- Kausha Donovan, left, at a National Military Spouse Network event in Arlington with founder Sue Hoppin. (Photo: TBD Staff)
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Kausha Donovan previously worked in the data entry field. Her previous job was actually as a cash poster for a retail bank called First Capital Corp.
Pentagon City resident Kausha Donovan is crossing her fingers after yesterday's job interview at the Navy Memorial.
It took her nearly two years to get it, after she moved to Arlington in 2008 with her husband, Robert, who is a lieutenant in the Coast Guard.
Without contacts in the area, Donovan, 30, was faced with few prospects of a career path job, even though she has a degree from Oklahoma State University and experience in the
data entry banking field. All she could find was a part-time job at Starbucks.
Until, that is, she met Sue Hoppin, founder of the National Military Spouse Network. Hoppin, a military spouse whose experience when she moved back to the D.C. area was not unlike Donovan's, started the network three months ago to provide support for spouses that are seeking jobs in their career paths.
The group has held networking events around D.C., and is hoping to expand into other military-heavy areas. At such an event Aug. 16 at EatBar in Arlington, Donovan and Hopping talk about how the interview was a direct result of someone else in NMSN reaching out when she was going to leave the job at the Navy Memorial.
"We just made the introduction, and she followed up, it worked well," Hoppin says. "That's what we were hoping for. We're not in the business of finding people jobs, we're just trying to make those connections."
Donovan said she thought the interview for the data entry job went very well. "They're very excited that I was a military spouse," she said.
"The reality is, it is in who you know," Hoppin said of job seeking in the area. "If you're a military spouse, but the time you meet those people, it could be time to move again. We're trying to give them a jump start."
Hoppin knows all too well how difficult it can be. She returned to D.C. with her husband eight years ago with a bachelor's and a master's degree and speaking three languages. She thought she'd have no trouble finding a position as an intelligence analyst or a similar job.
Instead it took months, and when the FBI finally offered her a position, it required her to relocate — something that wasn't possible. She ended up starting the program for military spouses at the Military Officers Association of America. Then, earlier this year, she "felt called to help spouses on a more personal level."
"I was talking to a lot of people that wanted to hire military spouses," she says. "So I said, 'this is not rocket science.'"
At the EatBar event, military spouses, many of them now living around the Arlington area, were networking with representatives from federal contracting companies including CSC, Integrated Finance & Accounting Solutions, and Tutor.com, which runs the military's tutoring and education services.
Hoppin says the networking events, especially ones held in people's own neighborhoods on a personal level, have helped make many connections like Donovan's. "They all moved here at some point for some reason other than themselves," she said of the group networking. "This way, it's not so scary if you're coming to meet other military spouses."