1. Tell us a bit about yourself
I am Dr. Lorraine Smoots, Author, Educator, Career Transition Coach/Consultant.
I am a mother to three AMAZING young adults (1 daughter, 2 Sons). I am from St. Louis, Mo and grew up in the suburbs of North County in the town of Moline Acres. My mother was a single parent of 3 girls. I had some challenges in my childhood with bullying and low self-esteem which resulted in me dropping out of high school in the 11th grade and getting my G.E.D.
While my peers advanced on in their Senior year of high school, I started my Freshman year at the local community college. It is there where I found my love for not only learning but independence. The ability to pick the times that I went to class and do my work according to the course syllabus deadlines was such a great fit for me. However, when my finances grew with student loan debt and only being skilled enough for fast food jobs I decided to join the military.
I served my country for 20+ years in the capacity of both the United States Air Force Veteran and a Department of Defense (DoD) civilian employee. I was also a 24-year prior military spouse with 10 duty relocations under my belt. To include bases in Japan, Germany, Alaska, Hawaii, and the U.S. territory of Guam. I loved my time with the military community and have made some great life long friendships.
During my time being a supportive military spouse, mother of 3 and a working professional, I managed to continue my education earning my Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Management, Master of Arts in Professional Development, and PhD in Human Services where my research focuses on the Resilience factors of Veterans transitioning into the civilian sector.
I am a lifelong learner and I enjoy listening to audible books, podcasts, reading O magazine, watching youtube, crafting, creating, meditation, hot yoga and doing Hip Hop step aerobics.
2. What was your first job and how did you get it?
I started working at the age of 15. My very first job was a cashier at McDonald's. I made a whopping $3.25 an hour.
It was directly across the street from my apartment complex so I could walk to work after school. I got it to have money for my own clothes and necessities as my mother did not have help financially with raising me. I worked fast food jobs until the age of 20 when I joined the Air Force.
3. How did you decide and get to your career today?
While serving as a Department of Defense employee I was fortunate enough to have jobs assisting Veterans and their family members. Working with the Veterans and their families brought so much joy to my life. I enjoyed everything from facilitating classes on finances, career transitioning, work/life balance and education readiness to organizational team building. My last position was a term position, (meaning not to exceed a certain date) and when the term was coming to an end I wanted to try something new. I had a passion and a calling from the creator of the universe to become a teacher so I enrolled in an alternative teaching program at Regent University earning a Postgraduate 10-year Business Education teaching license.
However, when I was working in my new career as a Middle School Educator I felt a great deal of dissatisfaction with the job. I did not feel like I was teaching at all. Other teachers would share their dissatisfaction with me about their career and I would find myself providing them with coaching on how to transition out of teaching. One day when I was having this coaching conversation with a teacher who happens to be a military spouse she said to me, “You’re really good at this. You should do it for a living.” The light bulb came on, my wheels started turning. I knew I missed the connection with the military communities and helping the Veterans and their families. But instead of looking for a job in the field I decided to create my own and I launched Smoots Soft Skills Training and Consulting. Where I provide Soft Skills training to Federal government organizations and Career Transition Coaching/Consulting to transitioning women veterans.
4. What advice would you have given your younger self? Or what is the best career advice you have ever received?
I would definitely tell my younger self to focus on one thing you are good at and do that one thing. When you get tired of it, focus on the second thing you are good at and then do that thing. It is okay to change your mind and switch it up as long as you have a plan of action and you maintain the 4-Rs Responsibility (if you don’t have this you don’t have action), Reality (If you don’t have this you don’t have direction), Risk (If you don’t have this you don’t get results) and Resilience (If you don’t have this you will not persevere). I would also tell my younger self, do not allow outside people to influence the chapters of your book. The only person responsible for your life is you. The only person living your life is you and the only person that should control your life is you!
5. In 5 years, where do you hope to be professionally and personally?
In 5 years personally I hope to continue to be in a state of living in peace and joy. I would like to have a partner that loves, adores and supports me to share my life with. Both personally and professionally I would like to continue being a servant of God in whatever he calls me to do. I always say If God provides for me in a way that I do not have to worry about the basics of living I would work for free. Meaning the compensation that I earn would go towards the benefits of helping others.
Also professionally, I would like to expand my business ventures to create a Women Veteran Military Life cycle Inc. Run by women veterans for women veterans. To assist them in areas of their military life cycle as a whole, from entering the service to transitioning out.
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