One of the hardest things about being a military spouse (besides deployments, moving every few years, missing family, managing kids on our own, etc.) is the lack of career options that run parallel to our goals and lives. We’ve all heard that military spouses are extremely educated but we also know that finding meaningful employment that utilizes our knowledge and skills is extremely tough. Being overseas or in remote locations makes it even more difficult with the lack of jobs and the extreme differences in jobs that are offered. Take a look at the jobs available at overseas locations and you will commonly find either entry-level, low-paying work or GS positions that require advanced degrees/years of experience.
There are some things that spouses can do to beef up their resumes and make themselves “more marketable” in the eyes of hiring officials though. One of the great things about technology is that it has opened up new avenues for getting online education and skill-building tools wherever you are located. These online education companies typically collaborate and partner with Universities, Colleges, organizations, and influential professionals to provide additional education resources. This post will link you to some great online education tools that you may not have heard about.
A few things to remember is that some of these sites will offer you actual certificates or credits and some are just for gaining knowledge and skills. They may not technically be from schools that you could put into your education section of your resume, but I firmly believe in having a hard and soft skill section anyways. Keep that in mind. For the most part they are free sites, however, some have the option of the certifications or actual degree completion for a fee.
Online Education Sites:
Coursera is a great tool for those wanting to take classes from top instructors from Universities and Colleges around the world. You can take individual courses or enter into a “specialization” series that will provide you with a certificate upon completion. Some courses are free but others may have a fee on a per class or per month basis. This is a great site to learn new skills from whether you are a beginner looking to add to your skill set or a professional hoping to move up with certifications. Coursera has also started offering University-recognized online degrees that require admission but will be lower in cost compared to traditional programs. Plus, you are able to pace yourself which is a huge bonus for parents, those living in different time-zones, or those balancing a job as well.
Udemy has the world’s largest collection of online courses and publishes new ones each month. Over 100,000 courses are currently available in Development, IT & Software, Marketing, Design, and Photography among others. Most courses will cost money but I’ve seen a huge amount at $9.99 to $19.99—so a great deal if you are wanting to build your skills in Microsoft programs, copywriting, SQL, Java, and thousands of other topics. I highly recommend this one and have used it to add to my copywriting knowledge.
Very similar to Coursera, EdX offers a huge variety of self-paced and scheduled courses. The courses are offered from schools and organizations around the world and in a wide variety of subject areas. Sheep in the Land of Fire and Ice anyone? Introduction to Cybersecurity? Or a Harvard course on The Opioid Crisis in America?
EdX also offers up credit-eligible courses, master’s degrees, MicroMasters® programs (Information Systems, Design Thinking, Sustainable Energy to name a few), and a selection of professional certification courses. Of course there is a fee for the certifications and credit-granting classes but many of the classes are free is done as an audit (non-credit granting). Even at a cost, the programs are significantly cheaper than most degree and certificate granting institutions would charge. Keep this on your list of potential sites to visit!
Other Online Education Sites:
- YouTube.com (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!)
- Lynda.com (LinkedIn)
Language Learning Sites:
If you are interested in beefing up your language skills Duolingo is a great tool. They have a website but also an app that makes learning on the go (car, trips, lunch breaks) even easier. There are currently 33 languages available from the popular Spanish, French, German, and Italian to the more obscure such as Hawaiian, Czech, and even Klingon. The best thing about Duolingo is its FREEEEEEEE! If you want offline and ad-free access you can pay $9.99 a month which is still a great deal for learning a language. The app might not make you fluent but for an avid traveler like me, I like picking up general words and terms before going to new countries. This will help you explore new languages too if you’re not sure which one(s) have you heart.
Other Language Learning Sites:
Technology E-Learning Sites:
CodeCademy is a great resource for all things tech and coding. You can take courses in programming, data analysis, website building, SQL, HTML, and soooo much more. There are some courses that are available for free but if you upgrade to Pro and gain access to everything for $39.99/mo (1 mo subscription), $29.99/mo (6 mo subscription), or $19.99/mo (12 mo subscription). This is definitely a great site if you want to brush up on your tech skills WHICH I should add are in high demand and much easier to utilize through remote work. Programming, web design, and coding skills are sought after, look great on a resume, and can be done from pretty much anywhere you are.
Other Technology E-Learning Sites:
I’m a huuuuge believer in Flexjobs.com. Although you have to pay for a monthly subscription to apply for jobs they offer up loads of great articles and career advice for free. I get a lot of articles and information from there so I definitely recommend looking through the site.
Creating a killer LinkedIn profile is essential for us spouses who are constantly moving around. Facebook can only do some much to keep you connected to professionals in your industry who you may not be “friends” with BUT are great resources for finding jobs in new locations or for introducing you to new connections. For networking, jobs searches, and career help I highly recommend keeping your profile up-to-date and connecting with supervisors and colleagues alike.
Hear me out…So yes, Facebook is the land of cat memes, “hard pass” gifs, and people hawking their wares but did you know that it can be a valuable tool for your career? I’m not saying you need to friend all your past bosses or remove any sort of language that you wouldn’t say in front of Grandma (although I would look at your privacy controls if you are actively seeking employment) but you can follow loads of great pages AND join groups that can help you network or give you career advice.
Here are just a few pages & groups that I follow or belong to:
- Blue Star Families
- Spouse Education and Career Opportunities Program – SECO
- Military Spouse Central
- The Rosie Network
- The Paradigm Switch
- MilSpo Project
- MilSpouse Resource for Military Spouses
- Military Spouse (Magazine)
- NextGen MilSpouse
- National Military Spouse Network
- Military Spouse Corporate Career Network
- Military OneSource
- Hiring Our Heroes Military Spouse Professional Network
- Instant Teams
Well that’s all I have for now. I hope that all this information gives you a jumping-off point in gaining more education and learning some new skills. There is only so much that we as spouses can do for our careers and staying on top of our skills is one of those things. I recommend if you are feeling a bit overwhelmed as to where you should start, write a list. Figure out what industry you’d like to be in and look at job descriptions (required skills) for jobs that sound interesting. Then target those skills when looking through the above listed online education and skill-building tools. Here’s a list of jobs that can quite commonly be found as remote or virtual positions.
Let me know if you have found some other great ways to add to your knowledge set (outside of traditional schooling of course).
Until next time,
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click-through and make a purchase. All of my affiliates will be marked and also located on my affiliates page