A program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation
As a Navy spouse of seven years, Kathleen Kaminski has been willing to go wherever the military sends her family. But upward mobility in her career hasn’t come as frequently as her husband’s PCS orders.
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When Kathleen Kaminski and her husband consider his Navy enlistment options, they discuss more than his pay, benefits, and workload. They also debate how her career blends with their military life.
“My job was something we had to consider when we looked at orders and we talked about him separating from the Navy many times,” Kaminski said.
Yes, the couple contemplated leaving the military because of Kaminski’s career.
Kaminski has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in public administration. She has worked in social services for 13 years. She feels fortunate that she has been able to find a job everywhere she’s lived, but that doesn’t mean her long-term career goals are being served.
“It was really frustrating that every time I moved I had to find a new job,” she said. “I wasn’t fully invested in a retirement plan. My salary wasn’t increasing despite the fact that I had a lot of education and experience.”
Kaminski has always managed to find jobs after moving with her service member. But her career wasn’t growing in the direction she wanted. When she moved to Jacksonville, Florida, in 2017, she was determined to make a career change.
“I started looking at opportunities to take my skillset to a bigger organization, one that is portable,” she said.
Her desire to have a career – not just a job – is the reason why Kaminski connected with the Hiring Our Heroes Military Spouse Professional Network in Jacksonville.
Employment experts report that approximately 80% of jobs are filled by referral. Since military spouses start from scratch each time they move to a new location, building professional network connections is challenging.
To address this need, the Military Spouse Professional Network (MSPN) provides military spouses with career development and networking opportunities in military communities around the world. Network events and programming connect military spouses with established networks, giving military spouses access to local business leaders, peers, and mentors, and support in their career development.
Here are three ways that Hiring Our Heroes Military Spouse Professional Networks helped Kaminski – and can help you – to connect with career opportunities.
Due to her vast experience in social services, Kaminski planned to work in that field until she started volunteering with the Jacksonville MSPN.
Volunteering gave Kaminski the opportunity to meet employees and hiring managers from a diverse group of companies – many that weren’t on her radar before joining the Jacksonville MSPN.
“Those interactions opened my eyes to trying something different than my social services background,” Kaminski said. “It [connected me] to companies committed to hiring military spouses and veterans.”
For example, Kaminski attended MSPN events and listened to personal experiences from current employees. It was at one such event that Prudential Financial fell on her radar. Hearing Prudential employees talk about their positive experiences piqued her interest in the organization.
“Through these interactions, you get a really good picture of that company and the people who work there,” Kaminski said. “I heard such wonderful things about Prudential and said to myself ‘I think that’s where I want to be.’”
Prudential Financial has a long-lasting commitment to hiring and retaining military spouses. As a member of Hiring Our Heroes’ Military Spouse Employment Advisory Council since 2014, Prudential is committed to being a leader in addressing military spouse employment challenges and issues.
“We support the HOH MSPN because this is a great opportunity for our hiring managers and leaders to engage with military spouse talent,” he said. “We have the opportunity to share with them the types of career opportunities we have available and help them develop and grow through networking events, resume review sessions, mock interviews, and visits to our various office locations and meet and greets with local management. This has been a win-win situation.”
Prudential is a founding coalition member company of the Hiring Our Heroes’ Hiring 100,000 Military Spouses campaign. This three-year campaign, in collaboration with Starbucks, seeks to elevate military spouse employment while providing real solutions for military spouses seeking meaningful 21st-century career opportunities.
Kaminski works as a Senior Retention Representative at Prudential and couldn’t be happier about her career switch. She said she wouldn’t have applied for a job at Prudential, if it wasn’t for the Jacksonville MSPN.
Anyone who has spent time job hunting knows that one of the hardest parts is finding just the right jobs for which you want to apply. Through the MSPN, companies are reaching out directly to military spouses with job opportunities.
That’s what happened in Kaminski’s case.
“Prudential sent the position directly to me because I am the lead for the Jacksonville MSPN,” Kaminski said.
Military-ready companies are also posting job opportunities on Hiring Our Heroes LinkedIn group. These companies want to hire military spouses, veterans, and transitioning service members. They value the experience that military talent brings to their organizations.
“In my experience, these organizations are really excited to hire military spouses, understand what we bring to the table, and are willing to work with us,” Kaminski said.
Kaminski added that because Prudential wants to hire military spouses and they knew she is a Navy spouse, she was able to openly talk about her career goals and family commitments during the interview process.
“It was the best hiring process I’ve ever been through,” she said.
Working at Prudential has eliminated the tense career discussions at Kaminski’s house. The job with Prudential has had a positive impact on her marriage and her mind. She isn’t as worried about receiving new PCS orders from the Navy.
“We are looking at PCS orders now and I feel like whatever happens, we will be okay because I have my job,” she said. “I am a lot more flexible about locations now. As long as we’re stateside, I have options.”
Beamesderfer said Prudential offers portable career opportunities for military spouses who have a military move.
“Job portability eases the burden military spouses too often face when they seek new employment as a result of their family’s service,” he said. “It also allows us to retain an incredibly talented workforce.”
Kaminski mentioned that she and her husband are no longer discussing separation from the Navy.
“Now I am more open to wherever he chooses to go with his career,” Kaminski said.
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A Program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation