WilsonHCG's Sarah Kelton shared her story with us about what it means to be a military spouse and how remote work helped her gain back a fulfilling career.
When I think of Military Spouse Appreciation Day, I think of the immense sacrifices and huge joys of the job. I think of all the ways military families choose love every day in this journey, despite how hard it is on ourselves and our children. I think of my children's resiliency moving place to place, making new friends, going to new schools and watching a parent leave to go to a place of war. They don’t ever have a “place they grew up” or a “hometown.” They didn't get a choice in how they grow up. These are just a few of the things I think of, as well as how I got here and where my family and I are going.
"How can I work when we’re just going to move in nine months or a year? Then I’ll have to start all over. And I’ll never be there long enough to get promoted or excel."
When I met my husband, I had my dream job and an established career, but after we got married, we knew we wanted children. That meant leaving my job in HR, because in 2015, remote jobs were rare. My last day, I cried during the exit interview with a colleague. I loved my job, I loved my coworkers and I was leaving all that behind for the unknown, not knowing where it would take me (literally and figuratively).
Being a military spouse has meant traveling nonstop. In four years, we've moved from Georgia, Louisiana, New York, Georgia, Kansas and now California. I've learned the most difficult question in the Army is "What's your zip code?" During my husband’s last deployment, I delivered our youngest child with a two-year-old at home. Alone. The picture above was the first day he met Sadie. Being a military spouse makes you tough in ways nothing else can.
Fast forward a few moves after we're married in New York... I decided to try and go back to work and applied to a few HR positions. Even with almost 10 years of experience in HR, a staffing agency only offered me $10 an hour. I cried. Daycare cost about $9.50 an hour at the time. I felt like I'd never be able to go back to work. This isn't limited to just me — many military spouses feel this way. They wonder, "How can I work when we’re just going to move in nine months or a year? Then I’ll have to start all over. And I’ll never be there long enough to get promoted or excel."
When we got to Georgia in 2020, the world completely changed with the COVID-19 pandemic. I decided with everyone going remote, it was “now or never” to get employed again. I got on LinkedIn, reached out to some old coworkers, put the banner indicating I was “open for work,” and applied to jobs tirelessly. Luckily, one of my old coworkers was working for WilsonHCG. We connected, and eventually, I was hired.
Honestly, working at WilsonHCG has been an emotional milestone in my life. It’s given me the career back that I've always wanted, the career that would've never happened had it not been for the remote flexibility. It gives my two daughters a mom to look up to who works hard and gets it all done. I come to work every day with the attitude of “I GET to go work,” as opposed to “I HAVE to work.” I think about how so many spouses before me in the military didn’t get the opportunity — I get to have a career, a family and follow my husband’s job wherever it may lead. I wish every spouse could have what I have (if they want it!).
In spite of all the challenges, I'm grateful to be a military spouse. It's made me and my family cherish and celebrate every moment together. It's made me who I am, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.
WilsonHCG is an award-winning, global leader in total talent solutions. Operating as a strategic partner, it helps some of the world’s most admired brands build comprehensive talent functions. With a global presence spanning more than 65 countries and six continents, WilsonHCG provides a full suite of configurable talent services including recruitment process outsourcing (RPO), executive search, contingent talent solutions and talent consulting. TALENT.™ It’s more than a solution, it’s who we are.