The last time Alison Goldrum had to move with her husband for his permanent change of station (PCS), it meant having to leave her job. She’d already chosen her marriage over graduate school and frequent moves with uncertain work opportunities soon became part of her routine, too.
“I’d thought that my professional career had ended,” said Goldrum.
But along the way, she enrolled in a Department of Defense-funded programming boot camp and when the classes came to an end, she came across an open, remote programming position at Wells Fargo. The role, it turns out, was part of Wells Fargo’s first-ever Homefront Heroes Hiring (HHH) Program for military spouses, which launched in June 2022. Goldrum was offered the job, and joined the inaugural cohort in September 2022, which kicked off with a weeklong orientation.
“They showed us the ropes and helped us get our footing early on in our careers at Wells Fargo,” she said. “I had not been in the professional sphere for a long time. So I really appreciate that. We still keep in contact with new cohorts that are being brought on and with people who were in my cohort. It’s a great network to have.”
Wells Fargo has long had a robust set of military transition and veteran hiring programs, from Boots to Banking to Military Apprenticeships to the Veteran Employment Transition (VET) Program. But the HHH initiative is the first of its kind for military spouses, who face their own set of professional challenges. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the unemployment rate for military spouses has long been at 22% – more than 20% higher than the national rate overall.
According to Sean Passmore, Head of Military Talent Strategic Sourcing and Enterprise Military & Veteran Initiatives at Wells Fargo, a persistently high rate is largely because of PCS moves and the challenge of finding a portable career. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution to military spouse un- or underemployment,” he said in his announcement of the new military spouse program.
“The scale and complexity of HHH demonstrate our understanding of the unique career challenges faced by military spouses, and our commitment to helping solve the problem.”
For Simone Douglas, that desire for portability was a key component of her interest in Wells Fargo. Another member of the inaugural HHH Program, amid numerous PCS moves for her husband, she’d long struggled to build something for herself. When her husband was preparing to leave the military, however, she was ready to establish her own professional path.
“Professionally, I was in what I like to call my kindergarten stage,” she said. “Like I was ready to tap into my strength. Utilize everything that I had gained from graduating [college]. I was ready to propel forward and I feel like the HHH Program gave me that kind of catalyst.”
Douglas now works as an Underwriting Associate for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage in Fort Mill, South Carolina. The HHH Program, for her, and the professional opportunity that has come with it, have offered her the kind of potential for longevity that she’d long wanted. It’s also positively impacted her life at home, as she navigates working from home and developing her professional life.
“For my family, it’s been good [that] I’m not completely out of the picture, especially for my young son,” she said. “But I can still focus on blossoming my own career and be able to support them now in other ways: financially, professionally – things that I wasn’t able to do before.”
She’s also found internal peace that didn’t exist at her previous jobs. Previously, said Douglas, working for companies that didn’t have a lot of experience with military members or their families “almost felt like I was harboring a secret. Like, ‘Okay, I know I’m going to be leaving in a couple of years.’ Or ‘don’t tell them what your husband does.’”
At Wells Fargo, however, it was a different experience. Douglas tested the PCS waters, in fact, early into her employment. In November 2022, two months after she started, her husband was due to relocate. She was anxious when she went to tell her boss. Instead, said Douglas, “They were unbelievably cool about it. It was a very easy transition and has been such a breath of fresh air to just be transparent and have that support [at Wells Fargo],” she said. “I’ve definitely been riding that wave.”
Similarly, for Felicia W. Mitchell, a Senior Human Resources Business Partner based in Los Angeles, having to move soon after her start in September 2022, was a concern. The HHH Program gave her time specifically for her move, no paid time off needed. It’s just one example of the ways the program has impressed her since the first day of orientation.
“This program is a robust program,” said Mitchell. “And when I say robust, I say this from the perspective of someone who has been in Human Resources for over a decade.”
During her first week at Wells Fargo, Mitchell was able to pop in and out of the remote orientation with her cohort, which allowed her to attend meetings with her new team while getting acclimated to the company overall. Each day, the group was introduced to people that could help the new cohort, and the resources available to them. There were Q&A sessions, and talks from veterans who had joined Wells Fargo previously.
Even more compelling for Douglas, however, was what came afterward. “It’s the followup that I appreciate most,” she said.
The other key issue for her, she said, has been to pursue her own dreams, and the program’s role in helping military spouses do so.
“I don’t want to be a stay at home wife if I don’t have to,” she said. “A lot of the people I’ve spoken with who are military spouses, they didn’t have a choice. They didn’t go to college to not use their degrees or just be their husband’s or wife’s support.
“I do want to support [my husband],” Douglas said. “I love what he does every day and I want to support him and I love our country. But I also want to be a professional and I do have my own goals.”
“I tell all of our friends all the time that the best thing that happened to me after being married to my husband was joining [Wells Fargo].”
To join Wells Fargo’s military spouse talent community, and learn more about the HHH Program, visit Military Spouse Homefront Hiring Program – Wells Fargo (beamery.com).
*All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, or status as a protected veteran.