What’s that you say, Mrs. Robinson?

My column in the September issue of Military Spouse Magazine!


Dear Mrs. Molinari,

Thank you for your completed application.  However, the work experiences you listed in section C were all prior to 1996. Without work experience from the last five years, I will not be able to offer you employment with our company.

Best of luck,

Ms. Julie Robinson,
Employment Manager

Wait, what? No WORK experience? Seriously? Ms. Robinson, do you have any idea what I’ve been doing the last 19 years as a military spouse?

Have you ever lived in 7 states and two foreign countries? I have. Have you ever completed the complicated paperwork necessary to file two successful Household Goods Claims? I have. Have you ever flown Space A as an unaccompanied dependent without getting stranded at Wright-Pat Air Force Base for three days? I have.

Have you ever moved three children, a 110-pound dog, two hermit crabs, a car and 15,000 pounds of household goods to a foreign country while your spouse was gone and you were suffering from a lingering sinus infection? I have. Have you ever read a set of military orders and understood them? I have. Well, sort of.

The point is, Ms. Robinson, that anyone who has ever lived military life has “work experience,” no matter whether he or she has an employer or stays at home to manage the family. In fact, ask any military spouse which she’d rather do — spend a day working in an office, or find another new gynecologist after her umpteenth PCS move – and I’ll bet she’d be running for her briefcase.

Despite its rewards, military life is hard work, and military spouses must necessarily be resourceful, resilient, frugal, independent, and mentally stable (most of the time, anyway.) Military spouses have to be multi-taskers, interpreters, accountants, decision-makers, entertainers, short-order cooks, mechanics, coaches, gardeners, mothers and fathers all rolled into one.

Many, like me, have professional careers that had to be put on the back burner so that we could support our active duty spouses and supervise our families through deployments and multiple moves. Other military spouses have managed to find employment after each move, but they are usually at a major disadvantage, starting each new job back at the bottom of the ladder, or having to apply for costly additional licensing in each new state.

What’s that you say, Ms. Robinson? Being a military spouse doesn’t qualify as “work experience?” Let me put it to you this way: If you have something that needs to be done, ask a military spouse to do it. I promise, you’ll be surprised by what we can do.

Coo, coo, ca-choo.

The October issue of Military Spouse Magazine is out! Check out my column “What drives us CRAZY! — I give and I give, but what do I get?”

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Comments: 13

  1. Linda Morrow October 18, 2012 at 9:10 pm Reply

    It is a choice we all have to make. I worked, raised two children, and had 7 PCS’s during my spouses 25 years of service. Four of those were overseas moves. I was unable to attend wives luncheons and Longaberger parties or take leisurely lunches with my spouse. Because I sacrificed some of the perks, I now have a very high paying position with the Department of Defense and all the experience of a military spouse. Nice article.

    • Lisa Smith Molinari October 19, 2012 at 10:42 am Reply

      Thank you, Linda, for telling us your story! I LOVE that your life experience as a military spouse ended up landing you a position because your employer recognized that, anyone who can successfully manage a military lifestyle with kids and lots of moves is responsible, capable and hard working!

  2. Beth Magness September 19, 2012 at 5:55 pm Reply

    This is great! So very true. I really appreciated reading this after acquiring 20 years “work experience”! Another thought that is relevant, involves teenagers – through their moving during HS it’s hard for them to find part time jobs, leadership positions etc. Easy enough to join clubs and maybe a sport but who can hold leadership positions as the brand new kid – again – on campus?! We are getting geared up for child #2 to fill out college applications next fall and with 3 high schools, it’s gonna look rather discombobulated! I pray for understanding by way of college admissions. Now, better get busy with updating that resume of mine!

    • Lisa Smith Molinari September 19, 2012 at 6:03 pm Reply

      Wow Beth, great point! My oldest is a junior in HS and we’ve only been here a year, but already worried about our next move. We thought we’d be here two more years so our son could graduate but no such luck. He will have to do his senior year somewhere new. Very hard for teens to cope with these challenges.

  3. Becca :: Making Room in Sicily September 18, 2012 at 9:39 pm Reply

    I am so worried that someone will say that to me one day! But I will just pull this post up and remember what you said, because it is SO TRUE. Moving to Italy with the Army and living there off base and traveling Space A… it’s some serious experience that no one should discount!

    • Lisa Smith Molinari September 19, 2012 at 8:05 am Reply

      Whether milspouses have work experience might be debatable, but the fact that we have major life experiences is undeniable!

  4. Nicole Michelle September 18, 2012 at 12:29 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on Shop Military Spouse Made and commented:
    What a great blog post!!!

  5. energywriter September 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm Reply

    Loved it. Great summary of your experiences. Left a comment. sd

  6. energywriter September 18, 2012 at 11:59 am Reply

    Send this blog to Ms. Robinson. She’ll get the idea in a hurry. If she needs more I can send a list of my milspouse experiences.

  7. lauriebest September 18, 2012 at 10:44 am Reply

    Excellent blog, Lisa. I have great respect for what you do. Might I add my own twist to your annoyance? I found much the same response when I, as a newly divorced, single mom of three who’d been ‘out of the work force’ for 20 years tried to re-enter the job market. Didn’t matter that I have a Master’s degree…only mattered that I didn’t have up-to-date typing skills. I could have organized, crisis-managed, and sweet talked them out of any situation! Most mothers could have! Your added experience with the military gives you an extra layer of competency. When will people learn to include ALL of our life experience when evaluating us?

    • Lisa Smith Molinari September 18, 2012 at 10:51 am Reply

      Amen, sister. However, I started writing and freelancing due to the referenced rejection letter. I was trying to get a part time job (between moves) teaching paralegal students basic law classes, but I didn’t have enough “work experience” under my belt — just six moves, deployments, and two overseas tours while managing a family!

      • lauriebest September 18, 2012 at 10:54 am Reply

        There’s always a plus. Writing and freelancing has its benefits!

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