Three Spouse Career Tips from a Top Government Official Who Has Been There

What kind of successful profession route takes you from having a GS-thirteen lawyer process in Washington, D.C., to turning into a GS-6 govt assistant to, in the long run, being shown by the Senate as the chairman of the Department of Veterans Affairs Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA)?
A navy partner one, of course. And at the same time as it wasn’t conventional, BVA Chairman and previous Air Force spouse Cheryl Mason does price her adventure for the equipment it gave her to help army spouses working in her enterprise now and the instructions it taught her alongside the manner.
Mason’s tenacity in pursuing her desires at the same time as also balancing the needs of being a military partner offer some awesome life lessons for career-minded spouses looking to do the same nowadays.
It’s the way to that lifestyles revel in — blended with her position on the BVA, where she manages almost 1,000 federal employees set to manner about 90,000 veteran score appeals this year — that Mason has been capable of putting in vicinity navy spouse-friendly employment regulations.
For example, navy partner attorneys who’ve been with the organization extra than a yr can observe to take their function far-flung, eliminating the need to find a new process or retake the bar examination when they move. And the BVA is the handiest a part of the VA that has joined the Defense Department’s Military Spouse Employment Partnership and made a pledge to rent spouses.
So what instructions does Mason need to skip on? Here are her fine tips.
1. Look at career demanding situations — even disappointing ones — as possibilities.
When Mason followed her Air Force husband to Germany, she changed into forced to leave her task as a BVA lawyer in D.C. With no attorney positions open at their new OCONUS obligation station, she needed to make a hard desire: Stay out of the workforce or take a secretarial job. She chose the job.
“My advice: Challenges are possibilities so one can decide how you want to have that effect on your lifestyles,” she said. “Especially navy, however, I suppose everybody in trendy global, you get to outline what your career looks like, and that’s a massive deal. … What I might suggest is, when you see challenges and you have those things and it’s not operating such as you wanted, search for opportunities to peer ‘what I can analyze or how can I grow in this activity? If I take this function, what’s it going to permit me to do?'”
It changed into that mindset that allowed her to apply the administrative assistant position to no longer just fill her time, however, lend her valuable existence revel in operating with humans and even handling contracts as they came throughout her table.
“Sometimes, you do must take a step backward to go ahead due to what you will study,” she stated.
2. Remember that army existence takes place in seasons.
As their time in Germany came to a close, Mason and her husband sat down to discuss their next pass. To supply her a shot at a profession, they chose to move again to D.C. With a small toddler, her activity hunt there had different priorities than it had earlier than she had her own family. And when their 2d baby become born, things have become even more complicated.
That intended she needed to stability her new priorities along with her preference for a successful profession — and say “no” to things that weren’t the right match for that time.
“I suppose you need to take lifestyles as seasons,” she said. “Each a part of your lifestyles is a season, and so when we’re elevating our kids, that was a season.”
She chose a role that wasn’t the whole lot she dreamed, however, did give her the power to dedicate time to her circle of relatives. Then, while her kids were older, she shifted consciousness again to her career.
“It’s about figuring it out, defining the existence that you need, and figuring out and trusting that there could be other possibilities to develop your self,” she stated. “But you have to figure out what that seems like. If you simply sit down and wait, it is no longer going to work.”
3. Learn to make tough selections through conversation.
As Mason’s career progressed, she and her husband faced a selection: Attempt to stability two very stressful profession fields with a circle of relatives, or allow one to determine to step back. After searching at their options, they determined her husband would depart lively responsibility after more than 14 years to enroll in the Air Force Reserve and take a civilian activity. That let Mason shift her recognition from own family to job.
Making that decision become tough, she stated, but thanks to good communication they have been able to choose the right route for his or her own family.
“I assume for all people approaching that, that is what they ought to take a look at This is this kind of large life selections, and you need to do it collectively. You cannot do it one after the other,” she stated. “Sometimes they get their flip, and on occasion, you get your flip, but you need to parent out how to balance it.”

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