OCONUS Career Resources for Military Spouses

July 20, 2023

The opinions expressed in this guest column are the views of the author.


My service member has been stationed overseas. What does this mean for my career?

I vividly remember eleven years ago. My spouse told me we were moving to Guam. My first thought was, “Where is Guam located?” After a quick geography lesson, my concern became, “What does this mean for my career?” I had earned my master’s degree, completed my Florida Teaching Certificate, and was a couple of years into teaching and coaching at a local junior high. Once I realized the change was inevitable, I went to the NAS Jacksonville Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) for support. The FFSC staff reviewed my resume and provided me with guidance on where to look for jobs in Guam. I started applying for jobs and fortunately was offered a position before we landed on the island.


I am passionate about helping others, and one of my goals as a military spouse is to empower my fellow military spouses in their career goals while stationed stateside or overseas. Spousal employment is an important topic for many military families around the world as it provides not only financial support but mission support in many overseas locations. In my most recent position at the Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) in Naples, Italy, I assisted spouses in finding employment and navigating the unique requirements of employment overseas.


Military & Family Readiness Centers

Moving overseas can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to finding employment. The best place to start is your installation’s Military Family Readiness Center. Each branch of service has a center:


You can reach out to these programs at any time during your relocation process. I recommend contacting them before you move to the area to get an idea of what services they offer and what resources will be available to you upon your arrival. Locate the installation and connect on Military OneSource.


The first step I recommend is setting a goal for yourself. These goals may change at each duty station, and that is ok! My first goal in Guam was to find a position within the government, so I could continue to build my career at any duty station after that location. I was fortunate to have been employed by the government for my spouse’s following two duty stations. Now that we are geographically separated and he is approaching retirement, I am setting new goals for my career. I encourage you to take the time to self-reflect, ask yourself questions, and answer honestly.


  • What do I want to learn or gain for my career while at this location?
  • Do I want/need to find employment?
  • Do I want to work on my career goals by furthering my education?
  • Do I want to build my small business or prepare my business for the future? Your local Military Family Readiness Center may be able to provide you with local contacts to connect for any questions you may have about operating your business on the installation.
  • Should I try a new career to expand my skills and experience?
  • Should I volunteer?


The installation Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) is a wealth of information and resources. The Family Employment Readiness Program (FERP) can support you with a variety of career readiness workshops and assistance. Many installations have Certified Federal Career Coach Job Search Trainers© who can teach workshops specific to federal resumes and help you understand how to apply for federal employment. I understand the process for navigating USAJOBS and tailoring your federal resume can be daunting, but you don’t have to do it alone.


While in Naples, I loved the challenge of assisting spouses with their federal resumes and the joy of their success when they started their new position. Workshops at your local FFSC include a variety of employment resources such as resume writing, interview skills, networking, and many more! You will also meet people by attending the workshops virtually or in person. They may have connections or become a part of your support team during your career search.


FFSC can also help you to understand the Department of Defense (DoD) Military Spouse Preference (MSP) Program. At NSA Naples, we partnered with the local Human Resources Department for Appropriated (GS) and Non-Appropriated (NAF) positions to allow spouses an opportunity to ask questions about the MSP Program. This workshop covered what documents must be uploaded in USAJOBS when using MSP, how the hiring process works, what information you need to know from job announcements, and how to tailor your resume.


FFSC is connected with the installation community and can assist you with volunteering opportunities. Yes, I know you are thinking that volunteering is not a paid opportunity, but it can open the door to paid positions! By volunteering, you are able to network and gain new skills that may help with your career goals. Did you know that volunteer experience can be used on your federal resume? It helps build critical competencies, knowledge, and skills that can provide valuable training and experience which can translate directly to paid employment.


You will want to be aware of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) as they are unique to specific locations. FFSC will have information about employment in the area that adheres to the local SOFA. They can also connect you with the area legal department for any specific questions you may have about employment.



When moving overseas, you may take the time to continue your educational goals. FFSC may have information about what educational resources are in the area as well as points of contact for the local higher education institutions.


  • My Career Advancement Account (MyCAA) Scholarship is a workforce development program that provides limited tuition assistance to eligible military spouses. I was able to utilize this program when I first married my spouse and began working on my Professional Teaching Certificate in Florida – it is a fantastic resource.
  • Check out the DoD MWR Library Continuing Education. You can access information on career exploration, take language classes, and choose continuing education courses.


  • FFSC staff are familiar and can help you through the Military Spouse Employment Partnership, a key initiative of the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO) program. Through SECO, you will have access to career and educational coaching.
  • Hiring Our Heroes (HoH) is another resource for networking and providing career readiness for our service members and their families. Many installations have local groups that offer career readiness virtual workshops, networking events, and share resources for military spouses. There are even opportunities for volunteering with your local HoH Spouse Professional Network.
  • Find a mentor! American Corporate Partners (ACP) offers free mentorship to military spouses. This free one-on-one mentorship is year-long and personalized to assist you with your career goals.

What if you are not going to be located near an installation?


  • Find your closest center, connect with them, and ask about their virtual workshops and services.
  • Visit the Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC) Learning Management System (LMS) for virtual learning opportunities. The CNIC LMS has live and on demand webinars to support you in your career goals.
  • The MyNavy Family App has links to available employment resources, resume examples, and other resources to support military families.

I challenge you to reflect on this: How am I going to pay it forward? Think about how you can find a way to give to others and spread kindness. We are all stronger together and can help each other with the unique challenges of being part of a military family.

About the Author

Alysen Ware

Work and Family Life Consultant

An active duty Navy spouse and mom with a decade of experience in the Department of the Navy’s Fleet and Family Readiness Programs.