By Amber Avalona-Butler/ParaglideSeptember 16, 2010
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - For Angela Morganthal, job fairs have become a temporary way of life. When her husband received permanent change of station orders to Fort Bragg, Morganthal moved to Fayetteville early in her search for work. She is still looking. Morganthal said she appreciated the professionalism of Tuesday's Military Spouse Job Fair, hosted by the Army Community Service Employment Readiness Program, because employers came prepared to hire applicants, not just distribute information.
The ERP said it understands the need of some Families for a second income. In an effort to help spouses find jobs to meet their Families' needs, the ERP hosts job fairs to facilitate the search in a tight economy. It also assists men and women who find fulfillment in pursuing professional interests. The job fair, held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Fort Bragg Club, appealed to spouses like Morganthal who are committed to their own careers.
"In my experience, they are more likely to hire you because they know that you really want a job. You move with your husband, you're dedicated to him, you'll be dedicated to your job," she said.
Morganthal said she hoped to find a perfect niche for her skills in one of the local companies. "I know it's opposite of most people, but I just love paperwork. I also like interacting with people. Anything that moves at a fast pace," she said.
In the job hunt, finding purpose is just as important as securing a paycheck. Morganthal hopes to rediscover that satisfaction in the field of law, possibly as a paralegal for a Family law practice.
In divorce cases, for instance, Morganthal said, "While that may be an ugly mess, you're there to help the person through the ugliness and it's rewarding in the end to see people get what they want and what they need at a point where they can move on with their lives."
While civilians place higher importance on health benefits, Morganthal said she is thankful for the Army's excellent health care and considers job flexibility her highest priority. Spouses of deployed Soldiers often act as single parents for months or years at a time. Because of this, Morganthal said, "I want to be at home every night with my son and I want to be able to get him when he's sick. I want the flexibility to be able to be a mom at the same time."
The job fair also attracted dozens of local companies. Laura Robin, marketing coordinator for the Fayetteville district of H&R Block, spoke with spouses about the company's seasonal front office positions. The H&R Block tax course, which typically runs $321, is also free for active-duty, retired and reserve spouses and wounded warriors.
"This is something that our military spouses can take with them from duty station to duty station," said Robin, a retired military spouse. Graduates with a score of 80 or higher could potentially work from January to April 15 each year, with the possibility of securing a year-round position at an H&R Block location. The 84-hour course covers topics like interest and dividends, depreciation and income adjustments.
Spouses don't need a degree to work for H&R Block in a field where confidence and communication are of higher importance.
"Our military wives are usually our first (choice) because they are so used to moving from place to place and having to get out in the communities and having to talk to people," said Robin.
Other employers included Renaissance Day Spa (open positions for nursery staff, front desk, sales and the spa team), Jason's Deli (looking for military ID drivers), ActivCare physical therapy, Picerne Military Housing (hiring for relocation specialists, maintenance technicians and resident service specialists), Heritage Place (part-time positions in reception, dining room and housekeeping), First Citizens Bank, Cape Fear Staffing, WyoTech, First Command Financial Services, Cape Fear Valley Health and more.
Recruiters appealed to spouses like Latieya Stanley, the wife of a supply sergeant in the 82nd Airborne Division. Stanley graduated from Fayetteville State University with a finance degree and hopes to get a job as a loan officer.
She said that although high school felt like an extended shopping spree, she stepped into the role of a financially-responsible adult when she entered college.
"I had to learn how to manage (money) on my own versus calling home every weekend like most college students do," noted Stanley, who hoped to secure a position at First Citizens Bank or a similar institution.
Stanley is motivated to succeed in the financial sector. "I can help people get their credit on track or get loans for their home or a car - anything they need to help their lifestyle," she said.