Published: November 12, 2021
Opening Up Opportunity: Technology Careers for #MilSpouses
Meet Leslie. She’s a Navy spouse, mom of four, and, thanks to a partnership with Salesforce, she joined Blue Star Families’ team as the Technology DEPLOY Fellow. When Leslie met her active-duty Navy husband and they started their family, she decided to take a step back from her successful career in technology to focus on their children. She and her husband welcomed four young children, in between managing eight moves (two overseas), and three deployments; it made sense for Leslie to put her career aside to manage the home front. And she’s not alone. In fact, 20% of military spouses are unemployed(1) and, according to the 2020 Military Family Lifestyle Survey, 33% of active-duty spouse respondents report not working because their service member’s daily work schedule is too unpredictable.
That unpredictability—the long hours, deployments, and training schedules—leaves spouses taking on the lion’s share of the responsibilities at home. It can also make child care difficult. How difficult? In response to the 2020 #BSFSurvey, only 23% of active-duty family respondents can find child care that works for their situation. Despite the challenges, Leslie chooses to focus on the positive. “As a military spouse, I have learned to choose the joy in my journey,” Leslie shared. “So many aspects of military life are imposed upon us; we can choose to let change darken our path or seek the light. I have learned to thrive no matter what I am faced with, and can pivot plans quickly.”
It was that positivity that Leslie took with her throughout her many volunteer positions and her journey back into the workforce after her youngest child started school. She found a fellowship with Hiring Our Heroes, which led her to secure a role as a Cyber Intelligence Recruiter. While in that role, Leslie pursued her own career goals, and she also helped transitioning and retired service members find meaningful positions. Connecting military families with great opportunities is so important to Leslie, especially when it comes to military families of color. Leslie knows firsthand that families of color, oftentimes, are not exposed to the resources available to them and, sadly, that translates to increased unemployment among spouses of color; 27% of military spouses of color are facing unemployment, versus 17% of their white, non-Hispanic peers. The great thing about connecting spouses to positions within the technology industry is there are more remote positions available. We know from the 2020 #BSFSurvey that remote work is seen as a top solution to alleviating schooling and child care concerns for active-duty service members.
While being back in the workforce and creating success with Hiring Our Heroes was very fulfilling to Leslie, she was still looking for a way to push her career forward and impact families in even bigger ways. “As a biracial family, I have experienced people thinking my children were not my biological children,” Leslie said. “Fellow service members have made fun of our family instead of celebrating the beauty in diversity. I want the opportunity to show people that our differences should be appreciated, not ignored. And I want the platform to be able to encourage spouses, especially those of color, to consider the technology sector. There are so many great opportunities in this field, but diverse representation is missing.” The desire to celebrate diversity and create more representation within the military support space is why Blue Star Families’ DEPLOY Fellow Program was founded.
“DEPLOY Fellows is a Blue Star Program within our Racial Equity and Inclusion Initiative designed to diversify and expand the pipeline of leaders in the military community,” said Kathy Roth-Douquet, CEO and Founder of Blue Star Families. “The effort will embed and train individuals from historically underrepresented populations into Blue Star Families’ organization as paid staff in national and Chapter roles. Through our training, we’ll seed a new generation of leaders throughout the Veteran and military family support space.”
As the Technology DEPLOY Fellow, thanks to the support of Salesforce, Leslie will be able to do what she loves—grow and expand her career in technology while also speaking out in support of military families of color. In her new role, Leslie will provide a new perspective, engage with a diverse audience, and inspire spouses like her to pursue a career in technology by exposing them to the possibilities and the belief that they, too, can create their own success.
In her role, Leslie will be supported by the Blue Star Careers program, an initiative created to provide the training and connections military spouses need to find and maintain meaningful employment. And this month, in a historic partnership with USAA, PenFed, and Navy Federal Credit Union, we’re proud to announce a new Military Spouse Employment Initiative. This groundbreaking work will include a three-year study of spouse un- and underemployment and the creation of a road map of best practices for businesses, so they can see the incredible potential in the military spouse labor pool.
Lastly, if you’re a military family in need, please reach out for support. Find a Chapter near you for resources and programming that can help. If you’re in need of career support, learn how you can access the tools to empower yourself to thrive at www.bluestarfam.org/careers.