Rosie Project members learning together in a computer lab

With the Rosie Project, Military Spouses Can Do It!

It’s a given, to the point of cliché, that military families move around. A lot.

For spouses of military members, all that moving can wreak havoc on career aspirations. They never quite settle into a role, and employers may be skeptical of hiring someone who would leave after just two years. What military spouses need are some transferable skills. The answer? The Rosie Project.

Rosie Project FoundersBorn out of the ethos of the iconic Rosie the Riveter, the Rosie Project is a team effort between Weber State University and Hill Air Force Base to provide military spouses with tech skills that can move with them rather than expire once they change base assignments.

“It’s not easy to get a job if you have an expiration date,” said Aniza Brown, co-founder of the Rosie Project.

The tuition-free information technology program is aimed at getting those spouses plugged into jobs with the Department of Defense. No matter where they are transferred to, they bring important skills with them. While building the program, Brown said, it became evident that they had to help participants overcome another barrier: imposter syndrome. So, Weber State and the Rosie Project worked to provide not only the technical skills, but also the human skills to go along with them.

Faculty members from WSU’s School of Computing are in the midst of teaching the technical side to the first cohort of 20 students. Later in the program, those students will focus on developing professional skills such as problem solving and other human-centered skills. Weber State will award digital badges — evidence-based credentials that signify acquisition of those skills — to qualified participants.

It’s a set of skills that became more integral to the project as Brown and Amanda McCrea, the other co-founder for the project, talked with military spouses.

Many of those spouses indicated that they had “imposter syndrome,” a phenomenon in which people don’t believe they have the “stuff” to succeed in a field.

“You need to build up their confidence and help them realize they can do it,” McCrea said. She expressed her admiration for the current cohort.

“It takes a tremendous amount of courage for them to do what they’re doing right now,” she said.

Not only does McCrea hope the project pushes participants’ self concepts, she hopes it pushes societal concepts of what military spouses should or could do. As a military spouse herself, she swam against a cultural tide that expected military spouses just to support and put career aspirations aside.

Having had a career in engineering and now a position as an accelerator program manager for the Catalyst Campus for Technology & Innovation, McCrea doesn’t fit that mold. She is excited for this new group of military spouses to break their own molds.

“They’re really the trailblazers,” she said of this first cohort.