Striking a healthy balance between your professional life and personal life is a challenge for anyone, but the value of achieving this—for your work success, relationships, and general well-being—has never been clearer and more emphasized than now.
For the military spouse—the husband or wife who must align themselves with a partner whose career means frequent relocations or solo deployments—the challenge of laying the foundations of a fulfilling career trajectory is even greater. Initiatives such as the Adecco Group US Foundation’s Military Alliance program scholarship can help ensure military spouses don’t sacrifice their own career paths so their spouses can serve.
When Michelle Arteche first met her husband, Markus, he had just returned from an arduous deployment in Afghanistan and was visiting his family in Central Florida. Markus, a U.S. Army soldier, quickly fell in love with Michelle. Once married, they moved to Hawaii, where Markus was stationed. It all sounds idyllic—but for a military spouse, a life of following the sometimes frequent and unpredictable geographical shifts of your partner’s career can make it difficult to pursue a professional life of your own.
Michelle soon experienced the professional challenges inherent in becoming a military spouse.
“I really felt like a second-class citizen who was expected to put my husband’s career first,” Michelle recalls. “I was underpaid, and hiring managers were not taking my full skillset into account.”
The military spouse underemployment trap
It’s a common struggle—let’s call it the Military Spouse Underemployment Trap. A White House report calculated military spouses earn 26.8% less than their non-military peers and their unemployment rate hovers at 24%. This disparity amounts to $190,000 in lost wages for a family over the course of a typical 20-year military career. Michelle recalls that everywhere she went, “every military spouse I talked to had the same thing at the top of their mind—finding a good job.”
Why such a wage discrepancy? Experts cite the constant relocations required of service members’ families, which inflict on spouses multiple forced career restarts, lost promotions, résumé discontinuity, and having to constantly re-establish a local professional network—every one to three years. It makes it enormously difficult to build relationships, develop a reputation, complete education and training, and gain or build on experience—all while balancing, as in Michelle’s case, raising two children and supporting her partner.
Beating the odds: The Adecco Group US Foundation’s Service Scholarship
But Michelle’s story is one of beating the odds. After leaving Hawaii, she pursued a master’s degree while working contract jobs. Scouring LinkedIn one day, she came across the Adecco Group US Foundation’s Service Scholarship for military spouses. The scholarship offered free courses in data analytics, digital marketing and/or product management through the Adecco Group’s partnership with General Assembly (GA), an Adecco Group brand who is a pioneer in education and career transformation.
Michelle applied for and received the scholarship, deciding then to enroll in the part-time digital marketing course. She excelled in the program and used skills she learned to professionalize her employer’s web presence by updating their meta tags, which are content descriptors that tell search engines what a web page is all about. The next month, her employer’s site experienced a 312% increase in website visits. “The scholarship and course gave me a strong competitive edge,” Michelle says.
And the payoffs have been enormous: Michelle leveraged her new skills to seek a higher-paying job and after two significant offers, she accepted a position paying $55,000 more than her pre-scholarship position.