CAMP WALKER, Republic of Korea — As an Employment Readiness Program Specialist at U.S. Army Garrison Daegu, Natasha Bergstedt's job is to help other people find jobs, especially military spouses.
"The primary focus of my program is to help empower them with employment. So we’re going through career exploration, career development, locating career opportunities, as well as developing the skills and resources needed to move forward with their career," said Bergstedt.
Military spouses interested in discussing their professional goals and career opportunities can find Bergstedt at Army Community Service (ACS), located on the second floor of the Soldier Support Center at Camp Walker.
According to ACS Director Robin Sherrod, Bergstedt's subject matter expertise will help bolster ongoing efforts by USAG Daegu to empower spouse employment in the area.
"I think one thing that’s very special about USAG Daegu is that we are a big proponent and champion of the military spouse hiring initiative within the Republic of Korea. Our spouses can have their resumes put into a repository and when positions become available, those resumes are some of the first that are looked at. So I’m really grateful in terms of our area that we have championed that. There’s many directorates within the garrison which have employed military spouses."
Getting resumes looked at is the first step, but both Sherrod and Bergstedt said the content of the resumes is important as well.
Bergstedt said many military spouses have a tendency to undervalue their own skills and experiences.
"I’ve always loved this military community. The people tend to be very humble — which is an admirable trait. But when you are putting yourself out there with resumes and looking for employment, you have to advocate for who you are, what you’ve done and the fact that you do have those skills."
"I think one of the biggest challenges — especially for spouses — is the misconception that they have this large gap on their resume with no work experience. But a lot of times we can talk about it and realize through dialogue that they’ve developed a lot of skills."
"At a minimum, if you’ve PCS’d you’ve managed an entire household and that’s no small feat, so there’s definitely ways that we can word that and put it in a resume to reflect that you weren’t just sitting and doing nothing that whole time. Most spouses are very active at what they do."
According to Bergstedt, one of the best ways to account for gaps of conventional employment is by devoting time to volunteer efforts.
"Volunteering experience has value. At a minimum it gives you a great reference point for potential employers. Is this person on time? Do they work well with others? Volunteering is a phenomenal opportunity to establish that."
The programs and services available at USAG Daegu's Army Community Service are numerous. In addition to Employment Readiness, ACS offers:
- Army Family Team Building
- Army Volunteer Corps
- EFMP (Exceptional Family Member Program)
- Family Advocacy Program
- Soldier and Family Readiness Program
- Financial Readiness
- Information & Referral Program
- Mobilization, Deployment, and Support Stability Operations
- New Parent Support Program
- Relocation Readiness Program
- SHARP (Sexual Harassment, Assault Reporting & Prevention)
- Soldier and Family Assistance Center
- Survivor Outreach Services
- Victim Advocacy Program
"If you have any questions or you’re experiencing any challenges, ACS has something for you. Please drop by and see us and we’ll get you connected to something or someone to help you get through whatever it is that you’re working through," said Bergstedt.