A blog from Army&You’s autumn 2023 edition by Liz Davies.
It seems to me that army spouses broadly fall into one of four employment categories: the doctors, teachers and physios who move their physical role from one posting to the next; those who just need a laptop and an internet connection to deliver; the artisan workers who frame, paint or upholster wherever they’re based; and then those of us who change role with each new location, seeking a job which merely fits with ‘life’, whatever that might mean at the time.
Having left a career in retail to ‘trail my spouse’ to the Far East many years earlier, I arrived back in the UK in 2019 looking for such a one-size-fits-all job. It was a chance book club conversation with a patch friend who had recently secured a part-time, termtime only (gasp!) role at a local school that steered my thoughts towards the education sector. The possibility of working and also enjoying holidays with my kids was a massive tick in the box.
On her advice, I started to scour websites and fell on a role as a marketing assistant working term-time only at a small girls’ independent school nearby. I had little-tono experience of working in marketing and feared, as many do, that my disjointed CV would let me down. Four years on, I’m confident that a positive attitude – whether that be towards learning new skills, working in a team or delivering on objectives – far outweighs any supposedly essential capabilities outlined on a job description. Do not underestimate how attractive the can-do, front-foot, capable military mindset is to civilian employers.
The education sector shares a remarkable number of strands with the military and immediately felt like a familiar fit. There’s a sense of altruism, with many working not primarily for the money but for the principle. There are block periods of leave and it shares many of the quirky behaviours that characterise the institutional life that we’re all familiar with.
My role involved managing multiple digital marketing platforms, copywriting, photography, events organisation, project management, and a whole load more! It was pretty demanding on my time and I consistently ended up working more than my contracted hours. My husband would argue that says more about me than my workplace, but education is definitely a world in which it feels as though the number of hours worked are never enough!
As we prepare for our next posting, I would reflect that working in education has been a hugely positive experience; mentally challenging, satisfyingly relational, full of opportunity for upskilling and hugely varied. There is great truth in the expression that ‘every day’s a school day’. Little did I realise that that would be as true for me as an adult as it was as a child.