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2013 MOAA Military Spouse Symposium: The Scoop From Macho Spouse was originaly written for MOAA Spouse Blog: Making it in the MilLife.
When I was asked to participate during this year's MOAA Spouse Symposium, I couldn't refuse. Sure I am insanely busy with work and my travel budget didn't include a 2900 mile trip to Tacoma, but these were the popular kids calling.
I felt like I was in elementary school all over again and the jocks just asked me to play football at recess, no way I would miss this opportunity. (Side note: The jocks did ask me to play football with them in elementary school where I torched Braden Kelly, the most popular kid in school, for an 80 yard touchdown run that day. Great memory.)
Not only would this event be great exposure for Macho Spouse, but it would help give male military spouses some “street cred” while hanging with a great organization at a visible event.
MOAA wanted a male spouse's perspective on the difficulties of finding work after a PCS, the use of social media, and the importance of eliminating gaps in one's resume. This gave me an opportunity to share insight on how I've managed to overcome certain career obstacles throughout the years and demonstrate how men tend to process career disappointment differently than women. Kudos to MOAA for acknowledging the gender difference and insisting that men be represented at their symposium.
I could now regurgitate what we talked about during my time on stage and what I heard from others, but I want to go in a slightly different direction if that's OK; mainly because I don't believe I shared any earth-shattering revelations.
Nearly every person in the room was married to the military and experiencing the exact same circumstances that have caused me so much stress, frustration, and career disappointment. But what only a few in the crowd (the handful of other male spouses in attendance) could understand was how I processed those feelings of failure.
However, this was not the venue to go down that emotional rabbit hole because we were there to help inspire others to keep finding ways around whatever career obstacles lay ahead. Which is funny because I don't see myself as wildly successful, in fact, my list of career accomplishments are almost as long as my list of failures.
But MOAA didn't organize this event to showcase successful military spouses, they brought us all together to share what career strategies have worked and which ones haven't. Sure they offered inspiring and informative speeches from corporate CEOs, resume writing classes and reviews, demonstrations on how to give an effective job interview, and ways in which military spouses can best market their skills.
However, what MOAA was really hoping to provide was an opportunity for spouses to connect, network and learn from one another. If this was their ultimate goal, I believe they succeeded beyond expectations.
Nothing has been more valuable to me as a military spouse than simply listening to how other spouses manage to find success and happiness within this lifestyle. There are a million different ways to accomplish finding and maintaining a meaningful career and everybody tackles this challenge differently. In fact, that philosophy of learning from one another while finding your own path is the entire premise behind Macho Spouse.
So what happened during this event is exactly what male spouses needed to happen. We were given an opportunity to have a voice on such an important issue as spouse career development while reminding people that the way each of us finds career success can be as diverse as those within our community.