Junior Enlisted Program: Kelsey’s Story

Junior Enlisted Program: Kelsey’s Story

Kelsey Wolf-Wallace
Latest posts by Kelsey Wolf-Wallace (see all)
Kelsey Wolf-Wallace and her husband, Nathan.

As someone who is married to a Junior Enlisted veteran, his story is closely intertwined with mine. When my husband Nathan had trouble finding employment after he left the military, we shared feelings of anxiety as well as the desire for mutual success. In this blog, I’ll share Nathan’s story from my perspective.

In May 2014, Nathan enlisted as an E-4 in the United States Army at 24 years old after several years of community college and work experience. He was hoping for a fresh start – a purpose. His MOS was a 94M, a Radar Repairer. When we met several months later, in August 2014, Nathan was finishing his initial training and was stoked to start his career in electrical maintenance. 

Upon completing his specialty school, he was assigned to his first duty station, Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington. When Nathan arrived, there were no radars to repair and he quickly learned, “the mission comes first.” He was put to work managing equipment in a shop, performing job duties that were much different than the ones he trained for. Additionally, he was a single soldier alone in a new place while I was completing college and graduate school on the east coast. 

Over the years, Nathan had trouble figuring out what his career was going to be. He learned technical skills but couldn’t apply them. He struggled with bouts of depression and wasn’t taking care of himself. He was conflicted, and I watched as he started to lose his identity. 

When it was finally time for him to separate from the Army, I helped him enhance his resume, and he applied for a job at Lowe’s Home Improvement. Nathan started as a seasonal employee while he applied to work as an Inventory Specialist at some larger companies in our area. I recommended he sign up for Hire Heroes USA services to get some career coaching support. He was paired with an excellent Transition Specialist who assisted with his job search strategy and resume tailoring.

After about three months of applying, Nathan finally landed an interview for an Inventory Specialist position. The interview went well, but afterward, the employer said they wanted someone who already knew the logistics information systems that the company used. Nathan had experience using the Army’s Global Combat Support System, a similar logistics information management system. He could have quickly learned the company’s system, but they moved forward with another candidate.

Instead, he decided to utilize his Post 9/11 GI Bill to pursue a degree in engineering. Nathan is currently enrolled in school and works full-time at Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has been lucky enough to have management who works with his school schedule. While attacking life as a non-traditional student, he is adjusting to virtual learning and still figuring out how to be a civilian again.

Nathan’s story is common, and I know there are spouses and partners of Junior Enlisted veterans and transitioning service members out there just like me who want to support their loved ones.

Junior Enlisted veterans have unique barriers to employment compared to more senior military members and veterans. They earn lower salaries, face greater underemployment issues, have less formal education and 50% leave their first civilian job within the first year. Hire Heroes USA wants to address those barriers and develop specific solutions for our Junior Enlisted clients. We are excited to improve the support of these skilled and experienced leaders and connect them to meaningful civilian opportunities!

Kelsey Wolf-Wallace is the Program Manager for Hire Heroes USA’s Junior Enlisted Program. If you’re interested in receiving free career support with Hire Heroes USA, click here to learn more.

Five Tips to Find Part-Time Employment

Five Tips to Find Part-Time Employment

Kelsey Wolf-Wallace
Latest posts by Kelsey Wolf-Wallace (see all)

Okay, let’s set the scene. You’re in the middle of your job search, currently unemployed, looking for a full-time role. You separated from the military four months ago and you’re running out of money. Or maybe you’re a veteran who was furloughed in your current role and needs to supplement your income, or maybe you’re interested in starting a new career and need practical experience.

I’m here to tell you that it’s totally acceptable for you to find a part-time job or find an opportunity to supplement your income. If you choose to pursue a part-time role, you won’t be alone. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found 4.6% of men had multiple jobs, while 5.3% of women did in 2017.

If you need to find part-time work, you’ll need to pivot your job search and portfolio. Here are five ways to find part-time work or supplemental work: 

  1. 1. Re-evaluate your resume. For example, you initially targeted a sales account manager role when you developed your resume. Now, you plan to use your professional experience from your time in the military to obtain a part-time inventory specialist role until you can secure the management-level role. You will need to revise your resume and write it in a way that indicates experience and interest in an inventory management role. A hiring manager looking to fill an inventory management role will want to know you can handle inventory, so those are the skills your new resume should reflect.
  2. 2. Your LinkedIn profile should align with your resume. You’ve revamped your resume to apply for inventory specialist positions, and now it’s time to do the same to your LinkedIn profile. Make sure your LinkedIn presence and resume are aligned. This allows recruiters and hiring managers to better understand your focus and in turn, determine if you’re a fit for an open position.
  3. 3. Be flexible. What other skills do you have, and what would you enjoy doing? Click here to find some side job ideas to get you brainstorming. Just because it’s a part-time job, it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun! For instance, I supplemented my income in grad school by dog sitting on Rover.com! Be open-minded and creative.
  4. 4. Maximize your network. If you need practical experience in a brand new career field, starting a part-time or side job could grow your network. The wider your network, you improve your chances of connecting with the right person in the future!
  5. 5. Avoid Gaps in Employment. Choosing to pursue part-time work while continuing to search for a full-time role can help you in the long run. Employment gaps stand out to employers! As someone who reviews and writes resumes every day, a part-time job stocking overnight at a retail store looks WAY better than doing nothing. 

A part-time position can be rewarding in more ways than one. Whether you’re gaining valuable work experience, pursuing your passion on the weekends, growing your professional network, or increasing opportunities for full-time job offers or promotions, part-time work can contribute to your professional goals.

Now that you’re interested, where do you look for part-time work? Here are some helpful sites to get you started!

Kelsey Wolf-Wallace is a Transition Specialist with Hire Heroes USA’s Junior Enlisted Program. If you’re interested in receiving free career support with Hire Heroes USA, click here to learn more.