ARLINGTON, Va. – Michelle Obama is telling women to be bold in their next career step.
“If you want a job, you can’t be modest. You’ve got to show off a little bit,” the first lady said Monday at a career development forum for women veterans transitioning to civilian life and careers. “And believe me, you all have so much to show off.”
In addition to a range of skill sets, Mrs. Obama said service members and veterans have an understanding of leadership, team building and completing a mission.
On the eve of Veterans Day, she announced new commitments from online networks LinkedIn and Coursera in partnering with the government to help service members, veterans and wives of veterans.
Military families can import their LinkedIn profiles to the Veterans Employment Center, the government website that helps them find jobs. They can also take advantage of a free upgrade to a premium profile for one year on LinkedIn.
Coursera, an online education platform, is offering one free verified certificate for an online course.
While commitments from corporations and organizations continue to grow in helping veterans, Mrs. Obama said more needs to be done, because women continue to trail men in employment.
The unemployment rate last month for women veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan was 11.2 per cent— 5 points higher than men who served in the same conflicts, and more than double the rate for civilian women, she said.
“The fact that any of you are worrying about where your next paycheque is going to come from, or struggling to put food on the table— that should be appalling to all of us as Americans,” she said.
Brittany Catton Kirk recently relocated from California to Virginia with her husband, a Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal officer.
She has been looking for employment for months and will take advantage of the premium LinkedIn account to promote her marketing and fundraising experience.
“I’d been weighing it in my head for my budget … ‘Can I afford this? I’m not working right now; should I really be spending that? So that’s a huge weight off,” Catton Kirk said. “I’m going to go home and register for those sites. That’s several hundreds of dollars of help here, just by me showing up today.”
The first lady has been a longtime advocate of service members since launching Joining Forces in 2011 with Dr. Jill Biden to support veterans and military families.
The daylong career forum also honoured business women and employers helping veterans, and provided workshops and panels on resume building, personal branding, education, finances, interviewing and work attire.
The program was held at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. It was hosted by the Business and Professional Women’s Foundation and Redbook magazine.
Mrs. Obama continued her Veterans Day celebration in the afternoon by hosting a White House screening of Disney’s “Doc McStuffins” for military children. The episode covers how children deal with a parent who is deployed. It will air on Veteran’s Day.