Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

February 3, 2015 at 2:06pm

Military spouses network with Washington state employers

Coyeatta Lee, a military spouse who lives in Yelm, networks during a Hiring our Heroes job fair as part of the Military Spouse Program at the American Lake Conference Center at JBLM. Photo credit: Sgt. Ryan Hallock

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More than 250 military spouses and servicemembers from the Joint Base Lewis-McChord community attended the Hiring Our Heroes Military Spouse Program hiring fair at the American Lake Conference Center Jan. 29.

Employer after employer lined the conference center - Amazon, Starbucks, Uber, and more than 50 other local companies - to discuss potential career opportunities with military spouses.

"It's important that our country focus on helping veterans, especially those who have been unemployed, seek meaningful employment, but the awareness is so minimal for what (challenges) our military spouses have always faced and will continue to face because they're relocating so often," said Sarah Worley, the Military Spouse Program senior manager.

The hiring fair gave military spouses the opportunity to network with different employers, which is considered to be the most important aspect of landing a job by the Army's Service Member For Life Transition Assistance Program.

"This is the best place to network," said Neha Malhotra, a military spouse and business analyst who lives in Renton, Washington. "There is no way you can get a job just by applying online - you have to network."

In addition to local employment opportunities, the career fair offered resume building help, as well as educational specialists to network within the local area.

"It's a beautiful area with a lot of opportunities," said Malhotra. "It's not hard to find a job; it's just hard to find the best fit."

>>> Maren Nguyen, a military spouse and native of California, speaks with a Pierce County sheriff correctional officer about potential career opportunities during a Hiring our Heroes job fair as part of the Military Spouse Program at the American Lake Conference Center at JBLM, Jan. 29. Photo credit: Sgt. Ryan Hallock

Companies like Uber offer a unique opportunity to spouses who might be expecting to permanently change stations frequently. The company is in more than 260 cities, which means, as Kimberly Pine, a company driver said, spouses can "pick up and keep going," if moving to a new installation.

"They know they'll always have work," said Pine, who spent time at the hiring fair networking with spouses. "This event lets spouses know there are really a lot of opportunities for them."

Worley values the level of experience and professionalism that military spouses like Malhotra bring to their new community after a permanent change of station.

"Spouses are some of the most professional, dedicated candidates I have ever met," said Worley. "You know they want it. You know they're going to work the hardest for it, because they've been working for so many years to try and maintain a meaningful career."

>>> Karen Marie Blank, a military spouse and native of Astoria, Oregon, speaks with an employer from Washington state during a Hiring our Heroes job fair as part of the Military Spouse Program at the American Lake Conference Center. Photo credit: Sgt. Ryan Hallock

Spouses can also visit careerspark.org, a website designed to create skills-based resumes with nearly 1,000 volunteer positions preloaded. For more information on the Hiring Our Heroes Military Spouse Program visit uschamberfoundation.org/hiring-our-heroes.

Sgt. Ryan Hallock is with the 19th Public Affairs Detachment.

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