Tag Archives: hiring our heroes

on “transitioning”

13 Jul

ok i am back! now that i have shared a bunch of beautiful pictures, i have some reality i wish to discuss with my online followers.

as you may or may not know, june 30th was my last day in the army. the last day i’ve been paid and the last day i could answer the question, “so what do you do” with a real answer. yes, i know, i am now technically a student, but classes for my master’s program don’t start until september. i took a lot of pride in having a career and working for my money and supporting christopher and i’s life together. i didn’t know how much i valued paying for my own groceries and items and bills until, quite recently, i haven’t been able to do so.

i digress. i began my “ETS leave” at the beginning of may, and although i wasn’t going to work, i definitely wasn’t relaxing. i started leave at the beginning of christopher’s week of graduating vanderbilt medical school, so i was hosting relatives and shuttling people and hosting a party and dinners – and although it all was AMAZING having the family in town and chris graduating and getting promoted to captain (!), i didn’t have a chance to really think about what was happening in my life. then the monday after his graduation, the movers came to pack, and then they loaded our worldly possessions up and then we drove across the country.

before we knew it, we were in tacoma with a week to kill before the movers brought our things – so we filled our time adventuring and eating voodoo doughnuts in portland. then the movers came, we set up our house and chris started orientation at the hospital on june 1.

the first day chris was gone, i started my thirty day study plan for the PMP exam. thus began my weekday life for the next month, studying for about four hours every morning and then job searching and applying for jobs in the afternoon. when he came home at the end of the day, i was frustrated with what i saw as my foreseeable future (at least until september when classes began). i explained my feelings with him, but as the days went on i became more and more distraught. it is easy to pretend to the world that life is all rainbows and butterflies on instagram – i mean, it isn’t all a smokescreen. i do love living here and everything is beautiful and perfect when i’m out exploring our new town, but the moment i get home i felt like i wasn’t contributing to the world in any real way. it is truly discouraging to feel like your resume is strong and your experience meaningful, and then not have that validated in any way.

during my four months in the hiring our heros program, we received SO MANY lectures about how “transitioning” (i keep putting it in quotes because i don’t like that this is the verb we use to describe leaving the army and entering the civilian sector) is hard and different. but truly, i thought it would be fine for me, or at least i would feel fine. i knew finding a job would take time, and logically i knew it would be harder because i am looking for a part time job in the non profit world while i’m in school, and all of the junior officer recruiters are looking for full time employees for the corporate world. but it really brought me down and i started to realize i didn’t even know where to start. online applications are so impersonal and i didn’t think i was getting any traction (i did get one interview from an online application though. but one out of like twenty.)

after one particularly tearful night with christopher, he sat down with me and looked over job boards with me and encouraged me to contact the veteran affairs office at UWT because when we had visited there previously someone had told me that the woman in charge was a west pointer (i was so hesitant to reach out to anyone – probably my pride problem). so i reached out to her, and to the person in charge of the hiring our heros coordinator at JBLM. one thing let to another and i started meeting face to face with some community leaders in tacoma, and i eventually was recommended to meet one amazing woman, who also is a veteran, and business owner and general superstar in the community. i reached out to her and since that day (just over a week ago lol), my life has felt like it is moving in the correct direction. i’ve signed up for many networking and community events because of her (yes, they are uncomfortable, and reaching out to strangers is awkward, but building a network is so essential, as she’s teaching me). and on tuesday i attended the greater tacoma community foundation’s women’s economic opportunity workshop because my new mentor was a speaker on one of the panels. she literally took me by the hand to meet two other women that could help me, and i have another meeting next week to talk about life and where my path should lead with one of them. i was encouraged to be surrounded by people trying to improve tacoma for women, and by doing that, for everyone.

she’s encouraged me to truly take some time off. and it has helped so much. even simply having the mindset that it is ok to take a break (and not scouring job boards every hour of every day) to figure out what makes you happy and centered. i passed my PMP exam sunday (!) and i had an incredible interview yesterday at a company i can stand behind. although i haven’t had any job offers, i feel so much better opening my lines of communication and meeting so many amazing leaders in this community. i feel like i’m on the right path. i’ve been collecting business cards like pokemon cards, and reaching out to every person i’ve met and exchanged information with.

my story isn’t an actual success story, but to me it already feels like a success story. because i am meeting people and integrating myself into our new community. of course, i hope soon to make at least a little bit of money to offset tuition costs and to not have to ask chris permission (barf) to buy whatever i want from anthroplogie’s sale. but these relationships are more important than working somewhere i am miserable. Β so i guess my main message here is: human interaction is essential, and admitting you don’t know what you are doing is humbling and hard but has led me to some great places already.

it has been hard to my independent pride to come to terms that i am unemployed. i am extremely privileged to be able to say this and to be able to take my time with my next move. i also admit that i am so so lucky to have chris and money saved and food on the table. i want to work somewhere where i can help those not quite as fortunate. and by dipping my toe into the beautiful nonprofit pool that exists in tacoma, i feel like my dream of doing that is much closer than it was a month ago. i already owe so much to this woman who has been helping me (due to privacy and such i’m withholding her name), but what a game changer.

my advice to you, if you’re considering leaving the service or a job in general, is to have a plan – but realize that the plan needs to be flexible and you need people to help you. try to build a network where you’re headed – hang up your pride hat on the peg on the wall, and realize that almost everyone has been where you’ve been, and will offer help – but you have to ask, first.

xoxo,
annie

IMG_8168

needless to say i totally made the right decision to leave, for me. but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t going to be challenges.

Advertisements

feisty me

11 Apr

written while watching “the collection” on amazon (i am obsessed. fashion design + paris + beautiful garments + murder and intrigue)

hello! today i “graduated” from the program i have been in for the last fourΒ months. if you’re curious, here is a link to their page. the department of commerce supports this amazing program (hiring our heroes) which gives veterans leaving the service a chance to pad their resume with some real job experience and prepare us for our big transition (and has led to job offers and leads within my cohort)! i loved my time with amazon, and am feeling much more prepared for what comes next (even though it won’t be with amazon since i am headed to grad school).

IMG_0878Β anyway, with this program finished, i have 23 days left in the army. time to get all of my stuff in order!

the other day, i was out with one of my friends who has recently joined my army unit. i’ve never before had a friend join whatever unit i am part of, which has allowed me the free reign to lead and act as i feel necessary at work without people hearing about me or hearing what other people have said about me. you know how people can talk – and in an army unit full of primarily men, i’ve sometimes wondered what people said about my leadership style and actions behind my back. not because i’ve done anything wrong, but because i think i act much differently than the status quo of male military man. i am passionate and loud and full of opinions, and i’ve learned over the years not to let a conflicting opinion stop my train.

anyway, he is working with a man who i once worked with, and our paths used to cross often. when i asked my friend what said man thought of me, he said he said “although we didn’t agree on everything, she certainly is feisty.

i’ll go with that. my legacy to the army will be myΒ feisty actions. and yes, i will focus on the positive connotations of that word haha.

xoxo,
annie