Commit to Continuing Education
It’s awesome if you already have an advanced degree or a certificate in your field, but never hesitate to learn more and move with the tides of your career field. Find a workshop to attend locally or make a trek to your industry’s annual conference. Take an online professional development course or simply tune in to periodic webinars on subjects that pique your interests and career goals.
Nurture Your Professional Network
Make sure you keep your LinkedIn profile current and continue to watch for influencers in your industry with whom you can connect. Don’t limit yourself to the virtual, however. If possible, attend networking events within your industry and across other fields. If there is an In Gear Career Chapter in your area I encourage you to network with other military spouse professionals, but many local chambers of commerce also host networking socials or there may be a young professionals (or seasoned professionals) organization in your location.
Afraid you won’t have anything to talk about besides diapers and school lunches? Nonsense! Use that networking time to stimulate your intellectual self.
Reevaluate, Modify (Maybe) Your Professional Goals
The military lifestyle is an ever-changing one and choosing (or needing) to stay home for a time certainly changes things. As you follow your journey don’t be afraid to let your dreams grow with you. You never know, you may love blogging and find yourself looking for other opportunities to write on a freelance or more permanent basis. You might also find yourself at one of the professional networking events mentioned above and someone may talk to you about an opportunity you can’t refuse— or perhaps you’ll stumble onto the perfect remote opportunity that will let you work part-time from home and still stay with the kiddos. I’ve also known many military spouses who end up turning their hobby or passion into an entrepreneurial venture that satisfies them both personally and professionally. Let this crazy journey take you places you’d never have guessed—you may just end up loving it even more than the dream job you imagined in college.
Volunteer in Your Industry
If you are particularly passionate about your career field, schedule a few hours each week to allow volunteering in that field. There is no better way to keep current than to have your hands directly on a project within your chosen career field. Are you an accountant? Maintain the books for your FRG, and the local Girl Scout Troop, or a military nonprofit (*ahem*– I may know one that would let you do their books). Are you a project manager? Volunteer to plan the command’s annual picnic or holiday party (there’s more that goes into those events than you might imagine). You get the picture: find something in your local community where you can plug in your expertise and not only help the organization you are serving, but also give yourself experience to put on your resume showing that you’re keeping up your skills for future use.
The bottom line is: no matter how long you plan to be a stay-at-home parent, if you plan to return to the workforce, the impetus is on you to keep yourself current and make yourself a marketable candidate when the time comes to look for a job. Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way!
Are you a stay-at-home parent planning to return to the workplace? Tell us about it in the comments below.