Military spouses face a higher rate of unemployment and underemployment than their civilian peers due to frequent relocations.
Hiring Our Heroes established the Military Spouse Professional Network (MSPN) to address this challenge and connect spouses with networking opportunities in their communities. MSPN has more than 70 networks across 27 states, Washington, D.C., and 11 countries.
This month, Hiring Our Heroes shares how military spouse Janine Santiago learned to prioritize meaningful employment in her job search, thanks to support from Joint Base San Antonio MSPN members. Santiago also explains how she fostered a robust network and stepped outside her comfort zone to get hired at USAA where she works as a contractor managing digital media projects.
Name: Janine Santiago
Status: U.S. Navy military spouse
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Job Title: Digital Media Project Manager
Employer: Team People @ USAA
Being a Military Spouse Has Granted Me a Skill Set of Immense Value
Tell us about yourself. I am a dynamic individual who excels in multiple roles — a military spouse, devoted mother, and driven professional.
What is your professional and educational background? I have worked as a business communications professional in highly regulated organizations, specifically in financial services, for more than 10 years. I have a bachelor’s degree in communications.
What has been your biggest challenge as a military spouse in the workforce? My challenge was effectively communicating the value of my experiences as a military spouse.
At times, I have struggled with concerns that this aspect of my identity might hinder my career trajectory.
However, I now recognize that being a military spouse has granted me a diverse skill set of immense value. It has made me better at adapting to different situations, tougher when facing challenges, and more skilled at handling complex situations.
What was once perceived as a potential limitation has blossomed into a source of strengths that significantly enhances my contributions in any professional capacity.
Related: Air Force Spouse Launches New Career During PCS to New Mexico Thanks to Network Connections
How did you hear about Hiring Our Heroes and the Military Spouse Professional Network? After months of job search frustration, I took a new approach and included “military spouse job search resources” in my online search. That’s when I landed on HOH’s webpage and found a treasure trove of resources.
I knew I found the right place and community.
MSPN and Amplify Gave Me the Confidence I Needed to Achieve My Goal
How did the Joint Base San Antonio MSPN help you land your current role? After settling for what [employment options were] available to me at Camp Foster in Okinawa, Japan, I knew I wanted to aim higher this time around [in San Antonio, Texas]. I no longer wanted to settle. MSPN and Amplify gave me the confidence I needed to achieve my goal.
Also, I gained a network of mentors turned friends. I no longer navigate life as a career-minded military spouse alone.
I no longer navigate life as a career-minded military spouse alone.Janine Santiago, Joint Base San Antonio Military Spouse Professional Network Volunteer
Can you provide an example of how the MSPN helped you plan for or reach your career goals? Both MSPN and my fellowship have been instrumental in my career journey. These programs enabled me to establish a robust professional network and foster connections with individuals who understand the challenges of uprooting your personal and professional life.
Why do you volunteer with Joint Base San Antonio MSPN? Having navigated what felt like an endless maze of uncertainties and setbacks, I understand the weight of feeling lost and defeated. Undoubtedly, the experience is challenging, and when combined with a sense of loneliness, it can become truly overwhelming.
By volunteering, I aspire to bridge this gap.
I want military spouses to recognize they are not alone in their struggles and aspirations. My aim is to ensure those who look to me for guidance are armed with resources.
I want military spouses to recognize they are not alone in their struggles and aspirations. My aim is to ensure those who look to me for guidance are armed with resources.Janine Santiago, U.S. Navy military spouse
Weight of Uncertainty Replaced With a Sense of Security
How has meaningful employment impacted your military family’s financial well-being? The impact on my military family’s financial well-being has been nothing short of transformative. [My career] has not only brought professional growth but has also alleviated immense stress and tension from our lives.
The opportunities I’ve gained from these remarkable HOH programs have been instrumental in reshaping our financial landscape. The weight of uncertainty has been replaced with a sense of security.
What advice would you give to a military spouse unfamiliar with MSPN? Don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it. It’s not a sign of weakness, but a demonstration of your commitment to growth.
I vividly recall attending an MSPN event where a speaker shared the “get comfortable with being uncomfortable” mantra. This mindset was a game-changer for me. Taking a step out of my comfort zone led me to the role I’m in now.