What You Need to Know Before Attending the MOAA Military Spouse Symposium

Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) is holding the 2013 Military Spouse Symposium aimed at helping military spouses keep a career on the move. With panelist discussions, appearances by local government officials, and insights from actual employers, military spouses in the Tacoma, Washington area are in for a valuable day of professional development.


Though the symposium is a great way to learn how to progress your career, you should go prepared with your professional game face on even prior to the event starting. To make the most of the experience—one where there is likely to be networking and key players in the milspouse employment world—you have to be strategic. Remember that the hundreds of other military spouses at the event are seeking employment and advice just like you. So, how will you stand apart from the crowd? Below are some quick tips to get your professional on, even before the symposium starts!

What Is Your Goal?

Ask yourself, “What do I want to get out of the event?” Get very specific and write it down. I am a huge advocate for Stephen Covey’s famous quote that you have to begin with the end in mind.

I always find that when I attend an event a little unsure of what I hope to get from it, I leave a just as uncertain about whether it was successful or not. The purpose of this type of goal is to provide yourself with a gauge for measuring the effectiveness of the event. If you are unsure what to expect, think about past career-related events you have attended. What did you enjoy? What did you leave wanting more of? Now, consider how your answers to those questions can relate to what you want to learn at the upcoming event. Also think about actions you can take to find what you are looking for.

Do Your Research

I know—you are probably rolling your eyes! You may be thinking that a symposium is an event where you learn HOW to research and what to do, but the real work starts now. You don’t have to spend hours, just a few minutes learning who the panelists are, what the speakers’ backgrounds are and whom you might like to meet personally.

Make a List

If there is someone attending or presenting at the event that you admire, follow, or just want to learn more about, write their name down and make it a point to reach out to that person. Introduce yourself and have your business card handy! Prepare what you want to say ahead of time, and be your natural, charming self. Being the authentic you is what will naturally make you memorable.


Do More Research

This is a little different than what you might be thinking, but it is becoming EXTREMELY crucial as we continue to become a more socially connected society. It’s time to get your online identity in shape. If you have no online identity, it’s kind of like having no credit score. Who wants to give you credit (or a job) if they don’t know what you will do with that responsibility?

You can easily set up a LinkedIn account to get started. Even easier, you can take a few minutes to start a Google+ account. Above all else, make sure everything online is professional. MOAA will be providing free professional photos—be sure to take advantage of this opportunity if you need one! Finally, if you are unsure what your online identity says about you, try http://www.onlineidcalculator.com/index.php.



Have fun and enjoy yourself! I look forward to hearing your success stories and remember to send me your questions about the event (or any career topic for that matter!) in the comment box below.

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