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In Gear Career

JBLM spouses develop portable business network

Published: 01:18PM April 10th, 2014

Career-driven military spouses face unique challenges.

With relocations and sometimes overseas tours, spouses are often derailed from their chosen career tracks, which can create gaps of relevant experience on their resume.

A new In Gear Career Joint Base Lewis-McChord chapter was started by two Army wives to help fellow spouses network with business professionals and other career-minded military spouses. In Gear Career is a nonprofit with chapters at installations all over the U.S and Europe.

“As spouses move from one location to another, we can tap into that network that already exists, even before we get there and know people,” said Katherine Adler, JBLM chapter lead.

The Army spouse stood up the JBLM chapter last fall with Pam Alvarado, also an Army spouse. The group held its third event March 25 with a resume writing workshop at the Family Resource Center.

The free coaching event featured guest Jessica Roberts, higher education consultant from Aim High Writing. Roberts, who is also an Army spouse, offered tips and pointers on writing an effective resume.

The workshop brought together fellow JBLM spouses who shared in the challenges of diverse work experience and sometimes more volunteer hours logged than work experience.

Cinda Doggett is a management professional and the wife of a 1st Special Forces Group Soldier. When the family was stationed overseas in 2006 for almost six years, she worked as a scuba instructor and taught English to Japanese women.

Her professional resume of corporate experience now has a six-year block of non-corporate experience.

“Now being here and wanting to go back to corporate, it gets a little difficult,” Doggett said. “I’ve been here two years and I’ve just been volunteering. I’m getting back into it.”

Doggett heard about the In Gear Career JBLM chapter at a recent career fair on McChord Field. She also found a connection with Alvarado, whose husband is also in 1st SFG.

“The military community, as big as we are, we’re really small,” Adler said. “We end up running into each other a lot every time we PCS. When they go to their next location we have chapters so you’re already tapped in.”

Lisa Dente is a 20-year military spouse whose husband will retire next year. To be proactive about the next phase of their lives, Dente has been sending out her resume.

She has an added challenge of a 17-year gap in her resume of being a stay-at-home mom. She’s leery to include her 10,000 volunteer hours on her resume for fear her potential employer would think she wouldn’t have enough time for the job.

Dente attended the workshop in hopes she could receive help with her resume.

“Why is that I’ve sent out over 100 and people say no?” she said.

Dente and the other spouses learned such tips as keeping the resume confined to one page and omitting such components like an objective statement and references — valuable space that could be used for relevant experience and skills.

The spouses shared experiences of what they found works and doesn’t work in their job search experience, taking notes on what they could benefit from.

The In Gear Career JBLM chapter’s next event is April 24 at the FRC at 6:30 p.m. The “Dress to Impress” event will feature Lisa Poundstone of Design Smart and will be about professional attire. For more information visit or email