Are you graduating from a degree program this year?
There may be more jobs waiting for you to choose from than in past years.
Employers plan to hire 4 percent more new graduates this year than from the Class of 2017, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
Surveyed employers said their hiring numbers are growing due to company growth, retirements and the need for entry-level talent.
The NACE report says the Northeast region is the only one of the four regions reporting an overall decrease in college hiring, with a slight dip of 1.7 percent. The Southeast (3.8 percent), Midwest (10.4 percent) , and West (4.1 percent) regions are showing increases.
While the Northeast region projects a small decrease in overall hiring, spring 2018 recruiting plans for employers in this region show the most promise, the NACE report says. More than three-quarters of respondents in the Northeast have firm or tentative plans to recruit on campus in the spring.
Wondering who employers are looking for? The organization says Almost 84 percent of new hires will hold bachelor’s degrees, 12 percent will have master’s degrees, 2.4 percent will have associate degrees, and 1.7 will hold doctoral degrees, with the remaining 0.4 percent holding professional degrees.
The top hiring fields are business, engineering and computer and information sciences across all levels of degrees, associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate. Near the bottom of every list in every degree type is humanities and education majors.
Army leadership is asking that question now and assuring senators that they are working to help military spouses find employment.
This week Military.com reported that top Army leaders spoke with lawmakers about helping spouses find meaningful work and that longer assignments to duty stations could be a way to make that happen.
Senators told those leaders that currently it takes 140 days for the Army to hire spouses or civilians for on-base jobs, a result of a “clunky and inefficient” vetting process in the Office of Personnel Management.
Earlier this month President Donald Trump issued an executive order encouraging federal agencies to speed the hiring of military spouses. Still, lawmakers say a lack of stabilization in one location, as well as a lack of on-base jobs, are the biggest hurdles.
PCS season is here. Time to start purging, packing and planning. Time to start looking at houses and school districts and things to do in the new place. Time to start convincing the kids how great the new place is going to be. Time to start saying goodbye to friends and neighbors and get ready to reinvent yourself all over again for the umpteenth time.
Not this year.
I don’t have to do that anymore. We’re retirees now.
Looking back on my husband’s 26-year Army career, it’s amazing that we spent 17 years OCONUS. We PCS’d 13 times. Here’s all the places we were stationed, in order:
Hawaii (Schofield Barracks), Georgia (Ft. Benning), North Carolina (Ft. Bragg), Okinawa, Korea (Yongsan Garrison), Florida (MacDill Air Force Base), Germany (Stuttgart), MacDill AFB again, Kansas (Ft. Riley), Stuttgart again, Canada (Toronto), Stuttgart a third time, and back to the U.S.
We weren’t on the typical summer PCS cycle until later in my husband’s career. Once we were, it was like clockwork. We moved five of the last seven summers. And now, it seems, nearly everyone moves between May and September. It has become the official season of goodbyes and starting over.
PCS’ing always brings a mixed of emotions. Marriages are stressed, kids are heartbroken, pets are confused, household goods are lost, finances are stretched.
But it’s exciting, too. One of my favorite things about Army life was the first few weeks at a new duty station – getting to know the area, checking out restaurants and shopping, meeting new neighbors. And if we got really lucky, my husband might have a little free time to enjoy the new place, too, before starting what always seemed like a 24/7 work cycle, or going TDY, or to the field, or getting deployed, or whatever else might come up.
Of course there was all the stress of deciding where to live, signing up for utilities, getting the kids registered for school, living in a hotel.
Our moves usually had a few extra unknowns, too. Since we did so many OCONUS transitions, we were always waiting for a car to arrive, waiting longer for our household goods, and trying to get settled while adjusting to new languages and a new culture.
But that part was kind of exciting, too.
Our last address change was in August, when we bought a house in Florida.
The other day my husband commented that, almost eight months after moving in, we were finally, completely, unpacked and set up.
“It feels like we’re really here,” he said.
Our next door neighbor made a similar observation while commenting on the long list of home improvement projects we’ve been doing.
He said: “So I guess you’re here to stay.”
And now, with PCS season upon us, the realization has hit me that we will never again get a set of military orders. Never again will we anxiously wait to find out where the next duty station is, and as soon as we get there start to wonder when and where the next move will be.
I don’t know that we’ll live in this house or this place forever, but we’re parked here for at least the foreseeable future. And, if and when we do move again, it will be on our own terms.
So, for all of you going through the PCS craziness this summer, I salute you. I wish you good packers and no damage, healthy kids, healthy pets, the strength of a superhero and the patience of a saint.
I wish you a smooth transition to your new place and, most of all, a great start to your new adventure.
I feel your pain, but I don’t feel bad for you. I’m envious.
“Live the life you love,” the bumper sticker said. “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life,” goes the age old adage. “Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work,” quipped the grandmother.
How many of us ever get the chance to say we do exactly what we want to do for a job? More often than not we hear about all of the office politics and watercooler jive. The commute kills our family time and we haven’t actually taken those vacations days in years.
Work bears the burden of responsibility. We are taught that responsibility is arduous and means being boring and underappreciated. When was the last time you walked out the door in the morning with a smile splitting your face like you might crack and a literal skip in your step because the idea of going to your job was that exciting and enjoyable?
I have been lucky enough in my time as a questionably responsible adult to have worked in some really interesting and completely off the wall careers. I have had, at this point, three major careers and one minor hop to the left – time warp fashion. I am pleased to say that I have loved them all for exactly what they brought into my life, both in friends and family, but also experiences I could have had in no other way.
My path was both random and planned. In some cases I decided to leap to a new cloud. In others my job disappeared and it seemed like a good time to try on a new career. Either way, the intent became following the wilds of change and listening to my heart.
When you think back on your first job, what is the very first sense that you remember? I’m not talking about working for family. I’m talking about the first job you interviewed for, even if it was one you resented. I remember walking into the smell of sawdust, cigarettes, cheap coffee, paint, and that slightly sweet smell of dust disintegrating on very hot metal surfaces.
My best friend was a theater brat at the local community theater. One afternoon at the end of freshman year in high school, in those strange, end of year, post-exam, pre-graduation days of early June, she needed a ride to rehearsal and I obliged. It was hot. The road was being repaved out front after the spring pothole season. Inside the theater the cool darkness wrapped itself around me as I sank into the faded, threadbare, velveteen seat. Until this point I had rarely been in a theater as an audience member. I had only seen a few live performances and never a rehearsal.
It seems so very strange to me to write that last sentence. I cannot fathom now that I once had not known the single slightest thing about how a theater worked. Sitting in that prickly seat in the dark, I realized that the thought had never crossed my mind that someone could do what those people were doing in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week, in the center of town in June. And they got paid to do it too.
I realized that my paradigm followed that adults went to an office to work during the day. That jobs were dull, the boss was a boob, the pay was terrible, and the prospects of it ever changing bore a striking resemblance to a snowball in – well anyway. I believed that performers of this level did something else during the day. I mean, of course I knew then that people did work in places other than offices for a living. But it never occurred to me that I might be able to do something other than work in an office. The liberation made me shiver and draw in a deep breath.
To say I got bitten by the proverbial bug might better be described as the summer I ran away with the theater for 15 years. My greatest fortune in life thus far has been that the very first job I interviewed for and was hired to also became not only my lifelong passion but also a teacher that all worlds are possible.
I spent this past weekend, as I often do in the warmer weather, at a festival with friends, many of whom were vending or performing. Theirs is a life often glamorized and polished with the rag of gypsy mystery. Both characterizations are patently false as the life of a nomadic performer is as glamorous as setting up tents in the pouring rain knowing that attendance will be meager at best and certainly not pay for the space let alone dinner or gas to the next festival. The Roma might have a few words of caution about the word gypsy. Not a single one of these friends would ever choose willingly to sit in an office building.
Then there is my dear friend, the actuary. She deals with risk assessment and management in a large financial firm specializing in international transactions. To say her job is the polar opposite of my entire existence is an understatement. She spends her days in an office glued to several large computer screens scrolling through numbers, talking about human nature, and assessing how it might affect decision making. Her job is figuring out how to keep the two separate for the health of both. The idea of living life on the road and camping most weekends would cause her anxiety that would rock an elephant.
How many of us have friends who make their living doing exactly what they are best suited for? How many friends do you have who are doing exactly what they love to do and getting paid to do it? How do you weigh the cost to your spirit against tithing homage to a paycheck?
Did you choose your career or did it choose you? Is your heart full when you do what you call your work? Is it serving your greater purpose to do your job? What would it take to live your dreams?
It’s a scary prospect to leap at that moon. It feels like leaving all sanity behind and landing among a pile of asteroids colliding. Sure there are risks and exchanges to be made when you follow your heart. Do you want to feel like you do when you are in your most productive, happiest, strongest place? There is nothing that says you need to stay doing the same thing forever unless you want to. Do you want to?
My husband retired from the Army five full years ago. It feels like a lifetime ago.
Five years without ceremonies, packing, early morning PT or deployment - five years without uniforms to clean or friends to say farewell to as they moved on to their next duty station.
We’ve settled quietly into civilian life, in a tiny town with a routine schedule that we once envied during our busiest PCS.
Our military life seemed gone, though I often longed for it while I sat in carline at the same school now, for five long years. After three years I felt the itch to begin packing and looking at maps and felt anxious, as if I was missing … something. By four years I was longing to get the heck out of here. At five years the routine has settled in and so have we. I now dread the idea of moving again.
Our military life, our military friends seem so far away. This week I was jarred from nostalgia and reminded of just how tight knit and wonderful our military community is.
My teenage son is traveling to two scout camps, 1,000 miles apart. The travel day from one and to the other falls on the same day, meaning my son will miss a bus and has to find his own way between Indiana and Florida.
That was the easy part, we could fly him without an issue. Getting him between the camp and the airport on one end and between the airport and the bus traveling through Florida was the sticking point.
Our military family rescued us. One retired friend in Indiana, now a state trooper, happily offered to pick our son up during his rounds, an hour out of his way, and drop him at the airport. His badge will easily get him through security to help our son make sure there are no travel issues.
On the other end, my husband’s former commander, and close friend, was delighted to pick up our son and not just play catch up with the traveling bus but also have time to discuss our son’s upcoming Eagle project him. The former military commander is also an Eagle Scout and spends as much time as he can helping other scouts achieve that goal.
Just when I felt at a loss our military family was there to support us, even at 1,000 miles away in two different directions. And after five years, though our military life feels a lifetime away, it is very much a part of us. The friends we made there were truly friends for life.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation continues to support military spouses as they search for jobs across the nation. They will host a number of job fairs around the country this month as well as several new events to help spouses meet potential employers and network.
The transition summits are a great way to help plan your move from military to civilian life. During the sessions attendees work on resume writing skills, find help building a well-crafted LinkedIn profile and participate in mock interviews.
The AMPLIFY military spouse career intensive is a relatively new offering. The two-day exclusive event leads military spouses through intensive career preparation and development. Attendees must apply and commit to the full, two-day experience. Class sizes are kept small to insure each attendee is given individual attention.
Attendees will be given the opportunity to: work with a mentor in the industry of their choice, participate in interactive sessions on salary negotiations, networking skills, PCS strategies and starting and moving a business as a military spouse. Each attendee leaves with an improved resume, professional photos and a polished LinkedIn profile.
For details on applying and reserving your spot at any foundation event, follow the links below. Good luck!
Oh bother. I have just discovered exactly how lazified I have become over this two-week spring break.
While my break was anything but quiet, I did get a lot of relaxing done. I spent the two weeks off working on everything I had put off for the previous month as I wrapped up a tough second term in my Master’s program.
It’s Sunday already which means it’s the day the summer term starts. My school meets on a trimester schedule; September to December, January to April, May to July with August off. Trimesters are 15 weeks. As a mom, I just cannot bring myself to discuss my education in trimesters. Not only would I have to go through six trimesters, I then have two more trimesters – I know - of internship to follow.
It makes it feel much too much like I will have to endure labor again. Thanks, but no thanks. This is going to be hard enough as it is. I call them terms.
I have been very much enjoying my spring break, doing all sorts of non-school related things. While I do know some of my classmates were in fact lounging on the beach in Mexico for the two weeks, I spent it catching up on a whole lot of overdue medical appointments, family time, and de-crapifying my house. It felt nice to be able to focus on a space larger than the 15-square inches of my computer screen every day. I even have tan lines from the one day it didn’t snow!
I also spent quite a bit of time focusing on the calendar for the next three months as I add projects and assignments to our already brimming family summer plans. Summer is the time we travel a lot. Being retired military with a large number of still active duty friends, we have built-in locals everywhere we go. We take the summer to travel a bit farther afield. This summer is no different with trips planned to new states and familiar festivals.
This morning I took the time to sleep in for the last time for a while. I am stay-at-home Mom working on this Master’s. I also homeschool our girls, so no one except Papa has to get up with an alarm unless we choose to. That is not to say that we live without a schedule, we do, it just follows a ratio of time from wake up to sleep rather than specific hours for specific tasks.
That changes for me a bit as I start to work on my assignments again. I am still old school and have to discipline myself to the clock for my work. If I don’t I will never ever get to all of the assignments to be delivered. I don’t exactly start an alarm, I shift the ratios of time around in my day. Rather than taking my quotient of quiet in the morning, I move those two or so hours to the evening. Moving into summer this works with the longer days, I can spend the evening after the girls go to bed for my quiet, me time.
It takes a bit of getting used to, getting up and moving into school mode immediately, but by choosing what class and task I work on first, I can ease into it and get a lot of work done before the kids get up. That way if I end up running over, I still have the rest of the day to work with. I know I crash mid-afternoon like so many, so if I plan to be done with the hard work before then, I should be able to keep up.
This term I have two online classes and one on-campus class. The online classes are shaping up to be regular but complicated assignment patterns. Both have regularly scheduled posts, discussions, and quizzes, but they also both include choosing three of five case studies or additional discussion topics, and multipart final projects.
Mercifully, both classes are designed by tech savvy professors with personal online learning experience. I have no idea what the adjuncts leading the online sections will be like however.
I know for a fact the on-campus class I have will be difficult at best. The professor teaching it is different from the one who set it up as is often the case these days. The professor who set it up has only recently moved to another institution and was dearly beloved by both the student body and program faculty.
The new professor is asserting their control over the class by interjecting different information and requirements while not adjusting the pre-recorded materials or previous syllabus. Unlike my online classes that have work due every week of the 15-week term, the on-campus classes only meet for five weekends with less work between each meeting. This will be the second time this class will be taught by this new professor and I hope the kinks have been ironed out.
This week is all about the introductions. Both online classes have us doing virtual meet and greets with our background, topics of interest, program of study, and a few personal tidbits. Each class is taking the time to present the baseline for the course of study. It is the time to really get a handle on how this term is going to run.
So far, I think it will be very busy. I have a lot of reading, researching and writing to complete and lots of planned fun to work around. It is summer after all. Let the juggling begin!
Navigating the VA disability claim can be one of the trickiest parts of leaving the military.
Even the term “disability” is confusing. One of the first questions my two teenagers asked when we explained my husband’s disability rating was: “Can we park in handicapped spots now?” The answer: No. Having a VA disability rating does not necessarily make one “disabled” in the way that term is usually applied.
Anyone who is retiring or separating from the military can file a claim for VA disability, even if they don’t have any visible injuries or issues that affect them on a daily basis. The point of a VA disability rating is to compensate servicemembers for injuries or medical conditions that arose during military service, and to ensure those injuries and conditions are cared for in the future.
Some cases are obviously more complicated than others, and VA disability is one of those many things where it seems like you ask one question and get a dozen different answers. I’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions below, based on my own experience and extensive research. It should be a good jumping off point for your own (exhaustive and exhausting) research. And, as always, mine is not an expert opinion. Always seek official sources for your own situation.
What is a VA claim?
A VA claim is a detailed packet of paperwork submitted as part of leaving the military. It includes medical records, details of any injuries or chronic conditions, and other information. The VA takes that packet and then sets up any medical appointments it deems necessary to gather additional evidence and screen the servicemember for a disability rating. The results of those appointments are then reviewed to determine if a disability rating is warranted for any of the injuries or conditions. There are eight steps in the VA claim process. You can find out more about them at this link: https://www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/index.asp.
What should be done to to prepare?
Start as soon as possible to document every medical condition. All those things your spouse never went to the doctor for because he or she didn’t want a profile, or didn’t want to take time off duty, or didn’t want to bother the doc? Yeah, all those things need to be looked at. Many people start do this during the last two or three years before retirement, when a.) they aren’t as worried about “looking bad” in front of their command, and b.) they realize that their time on active duty is nearing an end these things aren’t going to go away.
How long does it take?
I’ve known people who had their VA rating a week after retirement, and others who waited a year or more. The VA recently launched a new system called Benefits Delivery at Discharge, or BDD. This allows most servicemembers to submit their VA claim before they leave active duty. Under the previous system, a VA claim couldn’t be filed until after retirement or separation. The VA says most servicemembers who use the BDD system should expect to receive the results of their disability claim the day after they leave active duty. The key is that the claim must be submitted between 180 and 90 days before separation.
What’s a VSO and why should I use one?
A VSO is a Veteran’s Services Organization – think Veterans of Foreign wars (VFW), Disabled American Veterans (DAV), the American Legion, etc. Many of these groups are authorized by the VA to prepare and submit claims on behalf of servicemembers. They are experts, and they work for free. The VA has a list of such groups here: https://www.va.gov/vso/VSO-Directory.pdf.
Can a person who is rated 100 percent disabled by the VA still work?
Yes. There is a subset of VA disability called Individual Unemployability, or IU, but that is a separate rating that must be applied for in addition to the regular disability claim, and only a small number of veterans qualify.
Disability is a flat rate paid monthly based on percentage rating, and has nothing to do with rank or time in service. A junior enlisted servicemember who served only a short time will be paid the same amount as a senior officer who served 35 years. VA pay is also tax-free. There are some nuances (see CRDP below).
What is CRDP?
CRDP stands for Concurrent Retirement and Disability Pay, and is also known as concurrent pay. It means the veteran is receiving both retirement pay and VA disability pay. The veteran must have a VA disability rating of 50 percent or more to receive concurrent pay. Below 50 percent, the amount of VA pay is deducted from the retirement pay and offset by the VA pay (but still tax free). You can read more about this also-complicated math here: https://www.dfas.mil/retiredmilitary/disability/crdp.html
What do the terms permanent and total, and service connected mean?
Permanent and total means the VA doesn’t ever expect the condition to improve. People who are not rated permanent and total may be required to have their conditions reviewed after a certain number of years. Service connected means the injury or condition was as a result of serving in the military. These designations can qualify a person for additional benefits, although they do not change the amount of disability pay. A person can have a disability rating with both of these designations or neither of them.
Does a military retiree with VA disability have to get medical care at a VA facility? No.
Besides monetary compensation, what additional benefits are available for those with a VA disability rating?
Many benefits – but not all - require the veteran to have a specific minimum VA rating percentage. Any veteran with a 10 percent disability rating, for example, is exempt from paying the funding fee on a VA home loan. That benefit can potentially save thousands of dollars a year in mortgage payments. Those with a total and permanent, service connected disability have an education benefit available to their spouses and children that pays a monthly stipend while the family members are in college, vocational school and some other types of training. Disabled veterans are also eligible for job training and employment counseling. Many states also have their own benefits – such as lower property taxes (or none at all), free or reduced college tuition for family members, no vehicle registration fees … the list varies widely and is completely up to each state. Most states also have specific residency requirements to qualify.
Where do I find out about benefits?
You can google it all day long and find tons of information, but be sure to stick to official sources as there is a lot of misinformation floating around out there. The VA website is a great place to start: https://benefits.va.gov/benefits/. In addition, each state has a Department of Veterans Affairs to handle state-level benefits. But the best resource might be your county’s Veteran Services Offices. They are a one-stop shop for federal, state and local benefits.
It’s spring break week. Who knew that Master’s programs got spring break too? I mean, I guess I figured they did, but never really thought about it. Do doctorate students get spring break? I suppose the question should be do we take spring break or just keep plowing along?
In my case, I am taking a break. Not only was last term a dozy in materials and projects, but it was super stressful in my personal life too. I got really sick over the winter with no time to deal with it. So now, with this beautiful two weeks of no classes, I am taking the time to slow down and rest. I know next term will be as full as this last and I need to be healthy and in the right frame of mind for it.
We get two weeks off between spring term and summer term. Last week I spent catching up with my personal life, getting into missed medical appointments, and generally reconnecting with everything and everyone not related to school. I even read a novel and baked cookies.
This week, I need to make sure to not rev up too early for classes next week. I am planning something fun and not remotely education related each day. I will check in with my classrooms as they are open online already. I’ll print out the syllabi and the first weeks’ worth of assignments and set up my files. My books are mostly here and ready to go already. I still have to order the online toolkit we need for one class.
This past term was full of fascinating topics I really wanted to get deeper with but in the interest of time and keeping up with the lectures, I never went down those rabbit holes. Now I get to spend hours reading related yet tangential papers and surfing through professional pages searching for more tidbits to add to my project. Some people read romance, I read peer reviewed papers.
Eventually I will have to write a 50-page thesis to end out program. While I have a topic in mind, it is deep and expansive and could encompass a wide swathe of material. Now that I know a bit more about how the body works from my daily classwork, I can start to develop the outline for what I want to write about. This first pass at bullet points during one of two such spring breaks I will get in my Master’s career is proving to be not only fun, but re-invigorating to my research. I suspect I will spend next year’s spring break madly editing the thesis.
I really want to spend this week diving down those rabbit holes and working on tangential topics, and bullet points. Because I started this program with a solid, yet self-taught background, I am quickly learning where the tractor trailer sized holes in my knowledge base are. I am hoping to remedy some of those missing pieces this week as well. So I am starting with the basics and going up from there.
This serves two purposes. It fills out the beginning of the thesis, the part where one tells about the pathology of this condition, differences in presentation, the signs and symptoms, and traditional treatment courses. It also makes sure that I know that those gaps are cleared up in my own knowledge base. As the condition I am researching is one I live with, this is making for some very interesting discussions with my medical professionals.
While in class session, I don’t have time to breathe let alone research topics to my current line. I am too busy doing the class work to play. I am working hard to make sure every assignment I do follows my thesis project topic in order to not waste the research time. But, that leaves me precious little time for side trips.
I am a nut. I love to research. I love to learn new things. I love to find out that an assumption on my part is wrong and more importantly what the right information is. I like to problem solve. When I was told no such protocol existed for my condition, I decided it was my job to create one. So now I am learning everything I can about this topic, soup to nuts. It became the topic for my thesis and eventually my practice.
They, the grand They, say that if you do what you love you will never work a day in your life. I think I am learning this spring break that I love what I do. I love what I am learning. I can’t help but read about it when I could be reading about faeries or romance. I want to meet interesting people in my field to discuss theories of etiology and pathology. The snow has finally stopped falling here in upstate New York and I should be running for the hills to hike, but I’d rather run to the library and check out a fact in Grey’s Anatomy.
Are you working from home today? According to new, nationwide statistics, the number of employees working from home or telecommuting has increased by 115 percent in a decade.
The increase may be due to benefits for bot employees and employers. While telecommuting gives some employees a better work-life balance, allowing their workers to stay home saves businesses an estimated $11,000 per person annually, according to Global Workplace Analytics. The same study estimated that depending on an individual’s commute, each worker would save $2,000 - $7,000 per year in gas and vehicle upkeep.
According to Flexjobs.com, the largest online hub for employment outside of the traditional 9 to 5 box , companies are looking for certain skill sets from remote workers. According to flexjobs.com these are:
Digital communication skills: verbal and written
Time management, task management, the ability to self-focus
Proactive communication: being comfortable speaking up and asking questions
Comfort with technology and troubleshooting basic technical issues