Real Spouse Employment: Emergency Medical Technician

Sean O'Driscoll and his wife
Sean O'Driscoll and his wife

We love a good love story, especially one that starts on a blind date. That's how Sean O'Driscoll met his service member, a female sailor he's now lucky enough to call his wife.

But Sean hasn't let being a military spouse stand in the way of his dreams. Trained in the culinary arts, he is now working as an Emergency Services Support Assistant in the emergency department at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C. 

Aspiring professionals out there, take note: His can-do, take-no-prisoners attitude might be the key to his success. That, and some very smart planning.

What do you like best about your job?

I like the fast-paced work environment and, with being in a teaching hospital, I like to learn and see new things that I can apply to my job. 

How did you get your job?

I applied through Medstar Georgetown's website. Then once my application and resume was reviewed, I was given an assessment test, which I passed, and then my resume was forwarded to the department for manager review.

I received a call while on our way back from leave from the manager, wanting to schedule an interview. I interviewed 10 days later and within 30 minutes after the conclusion of the interview, I was offered the job.

Editor's Note: Giddy excitement here! Look, sometimes you really CAN get work through a website!  

If you went to college, what was your major?  Are you using it?

I attended Scottsdale Culinary Institute in Scottsdale, Arizona, from 1997-1998, and I graduated with an Associate's Degree in Culinary Arts and Sciences and Restaurant Management. I am currently not using my degree. 

How has being married to a service member impacted your own career? How did you get around that?

I would say that it hasn't impacted my career, yet. We have moved twice, and both times I was able to secure a job before we moved to our new home.

I start looking for jobs when we are about 4-6 months out from relocating and I apply for anything and everything I am qualified for. I ask for letters of recommendation from my current employers to help me get jobs in or around our future location. 

Editor's Note: Curious about asking for references before you leave? We have a whole guide on how to do it

What one piece of advice would you give to military spouses who want to balance volunteer work and professional work?

Both are great, but volunteer work doesn't pay the bills. I have done both. I was an EMT and the ombudsman for my wife's command when we were in Portsmouth. I was able to balance both of them quite easily and, if given the opportunity, I would do it again. You just need to prioritize your obligations and don't stretch yourself too thin. You also need to leave time for yourself and your spouse as well. 

How does your service member support your career?

Well, she allows me to work. LOL. Currently, my wife is loaded down with school, which means I do everything when it comes to the house.

She also understands that I cannot sit at home all day and that I too have a profession that I like, and if I don't continue to use my skills and keep up on my education, then I will lose them. She knows how important that is for me to do what I do as a profession.  

What is the one strength you use on the job every day?

Patience!!! I see a lot of people in their darkest hour, and I need to be calm and have patience when it comes to their care. I also interact with a LOT of people! Each one is different and has their own personality, which takes some getting used to.  

What are your favorite qualities in a co-worker?

Three qualities that make a co-worker great are a good work ethic, integrity and humor. We work in a stressful environment and sometimes you just need to laugh to relieve stress. 

Have you ever told a prospective employer that you are a military spouse during the interview process? Do you think it affected the way you were reviewed as a candidate for the position?

I have never told an employer that I am a military spouse or that my wife is in our armed forces! Even if I know that we will be leaving in a year, two years etc., I do not tell them.

However, once I am hired and have started to work, I do tell them what my wife does, but only if they ask. I do not volunteer information. Even if I know that we are leaving in a year, I still keep that to myself until I make the decision to tell them.  

What was the hardest lesson you needed to learn about work?

That things take time and there is a certain process when trying to get hired for a job that you know you are qualified for. I like things to happen rather quickly and a lot of the time I need to tell myself to slow down and to take things one step at a time.

What keeps you working?

Motivation! LOL. First, I like what I do. It also has a great future. I try and get jobs that offer me some type of retirement such as a 403(b) etc. so that I can contribute to our retirement for the future.

My goal is to work and save as much as possible during my wife's military career so that when we are ready to settle down and buy a house, I have saved enough to hopefully pay cash for it. I contribute no less than 15% of my check for that very reason and goal!

What is your favorite quote?

"Do or do not. There is no try." --Yoda

What is your version of happily ever after?

When the day comes for my wife to retire and for us to start a second life, we will know that we experienced and accomplished everything we wanted to do when we first talked about embarking on this great adventure! 

Thanks, Sean! So much to think about from this profile, don't you think? Do you think about benefits when you are looking for a job, or do you rely on your service member's benefits and gloss over that part?

As always, if you or someone you know has a good employment story, we want to hear it. We think the best way to learn is from those who have been there, done that! 

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Spouse Careers