FourBlock Grant Writer Sarah Plaut shares her experience as a military spouse.
Sarah A. Plaut
Education: Master of Science in Education (MSEd) from University of Tennessee at Martin and Bachelor of Science (BS) in Family and Community Services from East Carolina University
FourBlock Affiliation: Part-Time Staff
Position: Strategic Communications Grant Writing
Hobbies & Interests: The beach, camping, coaching youth sports (tee ball and softball), reading, and crafts (woodworking)
Sarah Plaut works on Strategic Communications Grant Writing for FourBlock. In honor of Military Spouse Appreciation Day on May 8th, Sarah shares her experience as a military spouse, addresses some of the misconceptions & stereotypes about military spouses, and shares her advice for other military spouses and those interested in technical or grant writing.
How has your experience as a military spouse impacted you personally and professionally?
As a military spouse, I had to think outside the box about professions that would allow me to maintain consistency with my husband’s irregular and ever-changing work schedule. I discovered my passion for writing, which I may not have explored had it not been, at least initially, out of necessity. Ultimately, my skill set for writing in combination with my knowledge of military acronyms and language increased my marketability in the DoD field.
What were some of the challenges or obstacles that you faced as a military spouse, or in your transition out of the military community to the civilian world?
We moved because of Marine Corps orders about 6 months after we got married, which forced me to job hunt in our new location. Shortly after that, I was pregnant with our first daughter and it was incredibly challenging to find a new job while pregnant. It was at that point that I decided to pursue my graduate degree. Earning a graduate degree was absolutely instrumental in bridging the gap on my resume and making me more marketable in the professional arena.
What are some of the misconceptions or stereotypes about military spouses that you have encountered?
I have found that many people are surprised that I have graduate-level education and that we are a dual-career family. There’s a huge misconception that most military spouses are stay-at-home parents. While it is true that many spouses are stay-at-home parents, there are a lot more spouses who hold higher education degrees and are dual-career than many people realize.
What drove you to become involved with FourBlock?
I share a passion for serving our Veteran community and want to help our service members transition into meaningful careers. When my own husband transitioned from Active Duty to Reserve status after 14.5 years of Active service, it was difficult. We learned a lot about the process during that time that we weren’t prepared for. I place a great deal of value on FourBlock’s programs and the mission to better prepare our service members for the next stage of their professional life.
What would you like employers or civilians to know about the military spouse community?
Military spouses are incredible assets to employers. We are flexible because we are used to the constant change involved in military life. A large number of military spouses hold extensive trainings, certifications, and education that make them uniquely valuable in many different roles. Lastly, I encourage employers to recognize that many employees will move on to other roles/companies in the 3-5 year timeframe, which is very close to the move time military spouses can expect. It is unfair to count them out because of those moves.
What are some of the resources that you have personally found helpful as a military spouse? Or what other services or resources would you like to see offered to military spouses?
Personally, the military spouse network has been the most helpful to me. Professionally networking with other military spouses has been invaluable.
What is one piece of advice you might give to other military spouses?
Don’t wait to pursue your career if that’s what you want. It’s true that it can be difficult to progress in your career with the moving involved with military life, but it’s possible. If you are in between jobs and/or underemployed, volunteer! Volunteer experience is valuable experience and it is a great resume bridge.
What is one key piece of advice you would give to someone interested in pursuing a career in grant writing or technical writing?
First, explore education and training certifications. It does take a bit of training to learn the different types of writing. Secondly, internships or volunteer experience is important. There are many companies and non-profits who need help and will take interns. Then publish, publish, publish! Find online journals, magazines, and publications that will allow you to build your portfolio. As a writer, your portfolio is arguably the most important piece of the puzzle. You need to be able to show potential employers examples of your work.