Megan Fraser is a 14-year U.S. Air Force military spouse and a Spring 2022 graduate of the FourBlock-Prepare to Launch U (PTLU) Military Spouse Career Readiness Program.
Service (Branch, Length of Service): U.S. Air Force Military Spouse, 14+ years
Education: MS Project Management, BS Marketing, BFA Painting
Major: Project Management, Marketing, Fine Arts Painting
Current Company or Organization: Prepare To Launch U
Position: Operations Manager
Hobbies & Interests: Hiking, gardening, art, cooking, entertaining, reading
Megan shares her experience in FourBlock-PTLU’s Military Spouse Career Readiness Program.
What struggles or barriers did you face during your spouse’s military career?
Moving to small towns in support of my service member’s career meant facing the military spouse stigma front and center. Employers were reluctant to even interview an outsider like me connected to the military due to frequent moves. The only jobs I could land left me drastically under-employed. After graduating top of my business school class with honors, it was a humbling situation that started me low on the career ladder that was only exacerbated when we were assigned overseas, twice.
While my spouse was tasked with deployments and busy TDY schedules, I served as the default parent for our young children in a foreign country. Job opportunities overseas would not cover the cost of childcare, not to mention the stress of being a solo-parent with no support, so my career ambitions were put on hold. Remote and part-time jobs were not as available during that time.
It is amazing to see the progress that has been made to support military spouses to remove these barriers, offer new flexible opportunities, and enable military spouses to achieve their own career goals.
What drove you to apply to participate in FourBlock-PTLU’s Military Spouse Career Readiness Program?
I heard about PTLU’s Military Spouse Career Readiness Program through a webinar Susan and Kelley did with The Mom Project. I knew I wanted to go back to work, but I was having a hard time identifying what I actually wanted to do so, instead, I was “circling the drain” and not making any real progress on my own. I was feeling stuck and uncertain how to pitch my career pause, which had lasted longer than I expected due to the pandemic.
As soon as I heard about the course, I knew I needed to apply. I wanted to be thoughtful and choose a career in alignment with my strengths, needs, and desires and not just anything that came my way. And I knew the accountability structure with weekly deadlines was something I needed to make real progress toward my goal.
How did the program impact you?
The program made me think deeply about who I am, life demands and mindsets. Rather than jumping right into producing career products (resumé, LinkedIn, etc.), the program encouraged me to rediscover myself first- the self that was buried in service to others and really needed to be unearthed.
The structure of the program was also a very helpful on-ramp back to the workforce as it forced me to carve out time for the meetings and assignments. I felt prepared to juggle the new work schedule and the effects that brought to our family because I had a chance to practice living it, defining boundaries, and setting up systems during the course.
Most of all, the program helped me define what I wanted to do and gave me the confidence and tools for how to get there in a holistic, real-life way
What were your key takeaways from the program?
My key takeaways were that I was pushed to dream of MY career again and given a roadmap to make it happen. I learned tools and techniques to advocate for myself (both in and out of work). Looking back at my past and noticing my strengths, and applying them with all of the skills I have gained while caregiving and volunteering really helped me clarify my direction and build a career vision. The most powerful part is knowing that I can build a new vision in the future as my situation changes- they truly taught me “how to fish.”
What did you like most about FourBlock-PTLU’s approach and/or the Career Readiness Program?
I appreciated the wordsmithing help with my resumé and LinkedIn profile, but most importantly I liked the PTLU approach on how to frame my career break and truly not be ashamed by it. I did what I need to do for my family at the time, and the time out of paid work was actually an asset to me personally, my family, and my community. There is a lot of self-doubt in the job search process and rather than feeling guilty for those past-decisions, I was empowered to move forward into a new career chapter.
How did the program help prepare you for your current role?
The program actually BECAME my current role! While in the course, I narrowed my lane to Marketing/Communications roles for a mission-driven organization, ideally impacting women and children. After graduating, Susan and Kelley approached me about an opening for PTLU as their Operations Manager. The stars aligned and I am happy to have found a role that hit all my marks.
What can military spouses expect from the program?
Military spouses can expect to learn more about themselves and make positive progression on their career journey, but it will take work. It can be uncomfortable and hard to do the introspection, but worth it to build a well-matched fulfilling career.
What do you like most about your current company or position?
I love working with Susan and Kelley and delivering on Prepare To Launch U’s mission of empowering women in work-life transitions. I enjoy organizing information, leading projects, and engaging with students. It is so rewarding to see the shifts in students and bring these programs to life.
What one piece of key advice would you give to other military spouses who are currently transitioning?
It’s hard to not see the finish line when you’re in it. Give yourself grace and stay the course. You will get there. If military life prepares you for anything, it is dealing with uncertainty. Take care of yourself, build those networks, and along the way and with work, an amazing door will open. Be ready for it.