By Jenna Moede
I have heard military spouses say that they don’t feel qualified to find a job or start school. Some say they didn’t do well in high school. Others say that they have been out of school for so long they’ve forgotten how to do well.
I think that these awesome spouses have forgotten that high school is in the past. And since then, they may have gained some really valuable skills by being a military spouse.
In my case, I mastered multi-tasking pretty quickly while trying to juggle my husband’s ever-changing schedule, my own work schedule, my house, my pets - the list goes on. Many of my friends feel exactly the same. I think we all feel like master multi-taskers sometimes.
And multi-tasking is a great skill for a student to have. Not only will you have to handle everything from your normal life, but you will also need to add in time to study, take exams and write papers. While it seems like a lot to handle, already having the ability to mult-itask will help you add in the new work.
Employers love having a staff who can multi-task as well. When I worked at a law firm as a paralegal, I not only had to deal with matters related to our cases, but because the firm didn’t have a lot of employees, I often found myself filling in gaps by answering phones while reviewing documents or making copies or while writing a letter to the court clerks.
Having the ability to tackle several things at once will really help you stand out and become an asset to your company.
Additionally, as a military spouse, you may find that you have developed your interpersonal skills.
Military spouses gain this valuable skill by constantly meeting new people, going new places and doing things out of our comfort zones.
And the military's busy event schedule, flight BBQs, promotion ceremonies and annual balls demand that that spouses are thrown into a variety of different situations and learn to cope, quickly.
This will definitely not be a wasted skill when you return to college. Interpersonal skills will give you a leg up when you attemp to make connections in your classes and learn from other students.
This skill will help you form valuable relationships with fellow students and build networks.
Likewise, employers often value this skill as well. In many positions employees come in contact with clients, customers, and other business people throughout the day. An employee who has the ability to converse with all of them effectively and efficiently will perform their job well.
If I haven’t convinced you yet that some skills we gain as military spouses come in handy, let me give you two more examples.
I can bet that many military spouses have learned how to organize their life into a way that makes sense and works for them. This doesn’t look the same for everyone, but as spouses we most often schedule appointments, plan time off and vacations, keep a calendar of work and events, and keep our lives on track.
By doing this, many spouses gain the skill of maintaining a schedule. We not only plan the appointments, but we make sure they all get kept with all the necessary paperwork or equipment.
Similarly, during the college years, this skill helps students. Organization helps students stay on top of their school schedules and know their assignment due dates, when exams will happen and what they need to complete for financial aid and other school related deadlines.
After college, organization will benefit you as an employee. You might end up in a position you never expected, like when I started as a paralegal, but having the ability to keep organized helps keep you more relaxed.
Because I already understood how to schedule appointments, I could easily schedule meetings. Because I knew how to plan deadlines, I didn’t have any trouble docketing court dates. I found that the little skills that I had never recognized before helped me become a useful employee.
Lastly, many spouses know how to handle their personal finances. While this might not ring true in every case, for most of the friends I have made, it does.
Personal finances help set you up for success both in college and future employment. The benefits seem obvious if you plan to go for a business or financial specific degree, but it will also help you as a student in general.
While your courses might not focus on those skills, you will need to familiarize yourself with the financial policies of your school and your financial aid. Having financial knowledge will help you navigate this tricky part of college.
Likewise, it will help you as an employee because, as I mentioned, you might end up where you never expected. I paid minor bills for my previous employers, wrote checks and maintained a check register.
Knowing how to handle these items really helped me, and I found that these activities came really easily to me because I did similar things at home.
If you feel like you can’t go to school because you think you don’t think you have the skills, think about all the things you do and all the skills you have because of the life you live, the life of a military spouse.
You might be more prepared than you thought.