Alumni Spotlight: Lauren McLeaird

Lauren McLeaird is a U.S. Navy military spouse and a Fall 2020 graduate of the FourBlock-Prepare to Launch U (PTLU) Military Spouse Career Readiness Program.

Lauren McLeaird

Service (Branch, Length of Service): U.S. Navy Military Spouse
Education: MBA, Methodist University; BS, University of Florida
Major: BS Tourism & Event Management  
FourBlock Cohort: Fall 2020 Military Spouse Career Readiness Program
Current Company or Organization: Activision Blizzard King
Position: Senior Recruiter, Level Up U
Hobbies & Interests: Live music, travel, reading, Pilates

Lauren shares her experience in FourBlock-PTLU’s Military Spouse Career Readiness Program.

What struggles or barriers did you face during your spouse’s career? 

The need to move to new areas that didn’t often have the same jobs market for my industry made it a challenge to continue on a direct career path. I had to pivot careers into academia and build a new network, skillset, and trajectory. Once my spouse separated from service, this made it especially challenging to pivot back, and programs like FourBlock really helped me organize the process as well as reflect on what was important and how to tailor my skills and experience to showcase my competitiveness for targeted roles, locations, and industries of interest and get back on track.  

What drove you to apply to participate in FourBlock/PTLU’s Military Spouse Career Readiness Program? 

I was laid off due to COVID and seeking military community/spouse programs focused on career support and development.  

How did the program impact you? 

Thanks to this program, I was able to identify my needs, goals, and desires in order to build a successful job search strategy and land a perfect opportunity for the next phase of my career. I was also able to better sell myself and advocate for myself during offer negotiations, which has led to going from unemployed to doubling my previous salary, finding a remote opportunity, and being able to work within industry and sub-sectors that I’m passionate about.  

What were your key takeaways from the program? 

Planning is key. Resources that help organize and define personal connections/networks, skills, priorities/desires, experience (whether professional, volunteer, hobbies, etc.) really helps create a roadmap and actionable plan. Once you have that, you can overcome the sense of being lost or lack of confidence in yourself to be able to reach for the stars. Once you have that belief in yourself and your abilities, plus a good plan of action, it’s possible to advocate for yourself and ultimately find success in the job search process.  

What did you like most about FourBlock/PTLU’s approach and/or the Career Readiness Program?  

The cohort format was engaging and helped build community and camaraderie. I was impressed by how well the team was able to make a virtual environment still feel very personalized, interactive, and relational. I have kept in touch with many of other spouses from the cohort because of the connection we were able to build through the program beyond the general career development pieces.  

How did the program help prepare you for your current role?  

The program helped me identify exactly how my skills, experience, and background were a fit for the role and connect the dots so that I could hit the ground running once I started. 

What can military spouses expect from the program?  

If you commit fully, and dedicate the time and keep with the pace, you can expect to walk away with a network, and clarity on what you want and how to get there. You should expect to split your time between zoom calls and self-paced activities and reflection/workbook style “homework.” 

What do you like most about your current company or position? 

I like that my company has been very committed to improving culture, moving fast to innovate and change systems to build a quality workplace for its people. In my current position, I have been able to make an impact not only within my company, but across an entire industry, helping others who share similar passions. I have also had a ton of opportunity for career growth and development plus significant support from leadership to move big ideas forward and build out new initiatives in areas I really care about. I enjoy the chance to work on side projects like Employee Network leadership, get involved in task forces, and working with other teams to cohesively solve for gaps that we can fill to get us to our end goals, so it feels like I can connect quickly and easily with contacts and teams across all areas of the business.  

What one piece of key advice would you give to other military spouses who are currently transitioning? 

Take advantage of all the resources, programs, and support organizations available to you, they are plentiful! Put in the work, take the critiques, feedback, and listen to the recommendations being given taking time to implement them. If you do this, along with patience and belief in yourself, you’ll get to where you want to be, I promise.   

Get the best of FourBlock in your inbox