Bio: Kristen Smith is the proud mama of one year old Garrett and wife to CPT Kevin Smith, US Army, for four years. She earned a BA in Marketing before enjoying work in nonprofit marketing and event planning. Kristen is currently pursuing a second bachelor’s degree in dietetics in order to become a Registered Dietitian. Kristen enjoys participating in the Army community through volunteer opportunities with Army Family Team Buildings, FRGs, Army Family Action Plan, and therapeutic riding programs. She believes that the Army offers spouses a tremendous opportunity for growth and development and is committed to helping others make the most of those opportunities.
Posts by Kristen:
Roxanne Reed is the Executive Director and a Founder of the Military Spouse Foundation, a successful nonprofit organization that helps military spouses define their skills and figure out the path to
reach their biggest dreams.
Before the MSF, Roxanne co-founded two businesses: Jane Wayne Gear and All Fired Up Candles, both of which were incredibly successful.
However, the path to her success wasn’t always obvious or easy. Roxanne shares the stories her biggest challenge and proudest career moment as a military spouse.
Career Trial as a Military Spouse
In my experience as a military spouse, trying to be “Jack of all Trades” created the biggest career setback. I graduated from college, married a Marine, had two children and found myself running down
a number of career paths without defining my long-term career goals.
After 10 years I had a lot of great stories and adventures but I also had a grab bag of skills and experiences that seemed disconnected.
At an interview I was asked, “Tell me about yourself and what you will bring to our company…” and it struck me like a lightening bolt when I realized I couldn’t answer the question with clarity and
As you can imagine, in that moment I wanted to pull my hair out and start crying. As I left that office I kept saying to myself, “I spent 10 years building skills, getting two degrees, working hard, volunteering, doing a million different tasks but I can’t explain to this employer my skills and the values I can bring to the table…are you kidding me, Roxanne!”
It was heartbreaking.
Great Ideas Are Built By Solving Big Problems
After that experience, I licked my wounds, put my big girl pants on and started down a new path. This path was one I never thought about – learning how to prepare myself for career and business
opportunities. I always thought I “had it in the bag” by just doing my job. I never thought about how I would need to explain the relevance of what I had accomplished and how it could impact an employer.
I was determined to not let the situation take me down, so I found a mentor who changed my career and business life forever.
After my experience, my mentor, a team of spouses professionals and I reached out to other spouses to find out if they were having the same issues as I had. To my surprise, almost every spouse I talked said they felt the same way.
Once we realized what a wide-spread problem it was, we started working towards a solution for to help spouses learn to how to self-actualize, prepare and solidify a career or business path that fits their passions, skills and education. This solution can now be found inside the Military Spouse Foundation’s online courses. This is my proudest accomplishment.
We help spouses begin, rekindle, or change their career while also making it as portable as the life of a military spouse can be.
Having a great career personally is a blessing, but being able to help others prepare and secure a career path is truly a priceless experience and our proudest moments at the MSF.
Interview provided by Kaye Putnam, the founder of the Successful
Military Wife. Visit her site to be inspired by even more military
spouses who have created success from anywhere. While you are
there, make sure you sign up to the email list for instant access to her
popular Weekly Battle Plan and Build a PCS Proof Life guide.
With unpredictable weather, plenty of bugs and viruses making the rounds, kids activities stepping up, and PCS season looming, Spring months can be especially taxing. Which makes this the perfect time to spread a little cheer with small pick-me-up gifts for friends, neighbors or coworkers.
There is something about a “just because” gift that boosts everyone’s day. We all have days and times that we feel a bit unappreciated, like our stresses go unnoticed. Giving something a simple little something that says I’m-thinking-of-you lets the people in your life know that you notice their hard work.
I have a small shelf in my linen closet that I try to keep stocked with a small variety of homemade gifts to use as hostess gifts, house warming presents and “just because” day brighteners! The key to these gifts is being reasonably inexpensive, able to be assembled in multiples, and something that can be packaged in a pretty way.
This would be easy to customize and tins like this are usually carried at any dollar store. http://www.sisterssuitcaseblog.com/2013/02/spring-gift-idea-and-printable-tag.html
A great way to celebrate the improving weather is to bring a little garden to someone’s life. I’d probably use a little container that could be used as a window sill planter, include a packet of herb seed and a tag with with a recipe using that herb. http://pinterest.com/pin/283937951477344153/
Just to show that these little gifts definitely don’t need to be complicated, this darling idea would be perfect for the mini boxes I found at our local Dollar Store last month for my brother’s Easter Care Package 8/$1. http://bethproudfoot.blogspot.com/2011/04/handle-with-care.html
One of my favorite gifts (and a constant staple on my gift shelf) are scrubs- salt scrubs, sugar scrubs, any variety or type of scent. My favorite scrub is a Eucylptus sugar scrub but I think this citrusy Sweet Orange sugar and salt version from deliciously organizied is a perfect spring pick me up!
Whatever type of gift you choose from a ribbon bedecked home made candy to something as simple as a note, a thoughtful gift can turnaround a bad day, give a boost during an exhausting week, and let our friends know that we appreciate their presence in our life.
Take a minute, give a gift.
Spring is traditionally a time of renewal- new life, a new start…..and spring cleaning.
This month at Loving A Soldier, we’re talking about Spring Cleaning for your Military Life. From DIY gifts to a cleaning checklist to a Spring themed date night to refresh your relationship.
To get you started, let’s tackle the basics. If you’re going to check any Spring Cleaning off your list here’s the place to start. In January, we talked about making 2013 your year. Now that March has come, it’s the perfect to revisit your goals for the year and assess your progress. Your Spring Cleaning Essentials are designed to reduce clutter and keep you moving in a positive direction.
What are your Spring Cleaning goals?
I am very excited to share today’s guest blogger with you:Bianca M. Strzalkowski- Founder of the Military Spouse Education Initiative, Freelance writer, 2011 Military Spouse of the Year.
There used to be a rumor that military spouses couldn’t achieve what they wanted to because of the demands of military life. I refuse to accept that. I think, like our service members, we have the desire to be the best at whatever we choose to do, and we have goals that we are focused on. Whether you want to start a small business or attain a college degree or be the best stay at home parent, you are in control of accomplishing that aspiration; however, military life does add a unique, twisted path that may not be as straightforward as our civilian counterparts.
I, myself, have attended college since 1999. Today, more than any other time in our history, there is an immense amount of resources in place to make your journey to graduation day easy. You will have to put some time into preparation, filling out the array of financial aid documents, and it will be YOU who makes or break your goal. Here is a checklist of best practices to getting started:
1) Determine what you are looking for in a school. Do you need the flexibility of online courses? Are you more motivated by being in the classroom?
2) Understand accreditation.
3) Discuss an academic plan with a school advisor and create a schedule that fits your lifestyle.
4) Apply for financial aid.
a. Department of Education: File your FAFSA annually; you may be eligible for a Pell Grant or student loans. http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/
b. Branch Aid Societies: Currently, all 5 branch aid societies are accepting scholarship or loan funding.
i. Army Emergency Relief (Deadline is May 1) Must be the spouse of Active Duty, Retiree, or the Widow of a Soldier who died on active duty or in Retired Status. Further details at: http://www.aerhq.org/dnn563/Scholarships/Spouses.aspx
ii. Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (Deadline is May 1) Must be the spouse of a Sailor/ Marine on Active Duty or Retired. http://www.nmcrs.org/education.html
iii, Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (Deadline is: Rolling)Must be the spouse of an Active Duty Coast Guardsman, Retired, members of the Coast Guard Selected Reserve, Coast Guard
Civilian employees, Coast Guard Auxiliarists, and Public Health Officers serving with the Coast Guard.Further details at: http://www.cgmahq.org/Programs/edu.html
c. Local Spouse Clubs: ‘Tis the season for your local spouses’ clubs to accept scholarship applications for Officer and Enlisted spouses. For information on if your club is offering a scholarship, email me at Bianca.firstname.lastname@example.org.
d. Private Organizations: APPLY NOW- FREE MONEY
i. National Military Family Association (deadline January 31) http://www.militaryfamily.org/our-programs/military-spouse-scholarships/
ii. Pat Tillman Foundation (deadline February 15)http://www.pattillmanfoundation.org/tillman-military-scholars/apply/iii. Thanks USA (opens April 1; deadline May 15)
e. MyCAA Tuition Assistance: a Department of Defense funding program for spouses of ranks E1-E5; W1-W2; O1-O2. https://aiportal.acc.af.mil/mycaa/
5) Balance of life, love, and education.
6) Don’t give up on yourself.
The key is to remember you are not alone in this. According to the Department of Defense, over 61,000 spouses have utilized the MyCAA Tuition Assistance benefit to pursue a licensure, certification, or Associate’s degree, while an undocumented number of spouses are enrolled in Bachelor degree programs or higher.
Ready to get started?
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