An interview with one of SMSS’ members featuring her journey and achievements as a military spouse in a STEM career field.
Meet Lily Snyder. Lily is originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan. She has a BBA from Grand Valley State University in Management Information Systems and International Business. She worked as an IT consultant on enterprise software implementations for many years. In 2016 she took the risk and joined a virtual reality startup, Doghead Simulations. Now she works as the Content Manager for SMSS while taking time to raise her son. No matter where she moves she always finds a martial arts dojo. She loves to be active outside of the office whether it’s walking her dog or participating in a local 5K. She thinks races are a fun way to get involved in and see a new town.
Tell us an interesting story about growing up that is related to your field of work.
Growing up, my parents worked from home. My dad had an office in the basement where he worked on government contracts. My mom ran the accounting side of the business. It wasn’t unusual to see my dad spray paint toy tanks different camouflage patterns and placing them around the yard to test their visibility with his computer programs. I’ll never forget the time he ordered an electronic wheelchair and turned it into a robot. He steered it around our house, trying to track our dog. “The tail is the hardest point to track because of the way it moves.” He said. Who knew that this was the first glimpse into my future, combining my love for technology and the military life.
What do you enjoy about your current duty station?
My husband and I are both from Michigan. We joke that we come from the frozen north. After so many long winters, I really enjoy the warm weather in Tennessee. There are lots of outdoor opportunities in the area and only being 50 minutes away from Nashville is a huge plus!
What company do you work for or if in school, what school do you go to?
I worked remotely and moved from state to state before I married my husband and we moved for the Army. I used to think it was no big deal to keep pursing my career while working from home. Since becoming a military family, I have a new perspective on what that means.
What inspires you?
My fellow military spouses are what inspires me. I want to show that you can make an impact, follow your dream, and have a career no matter how often you move or where you’re located.
How does your day start or what gets you out of bed in the morning?
These days my one and a half year old son is what gets me out of bed in the morning. After he goes down for nap I hop online to see the latest technology news and remote work trends. Since I was in a VR startup, I love to write about how VR will influence our lives.
What’s the coolest thing you’re working on right now?
The coolest thing I’m working on right now is SMSS! I was overjoyed to see a society for military spouses in STEM. I finally felt like I found a place where I belonged. I think it’s so important to join professional organizations as a military spouse because even if you don’t work at the moment you can still stay involved in your industry.
What do you appreciate about your work environment?
I am grateful to be able to work remotely. I’ve worked from home, local coffee shops, airports, planes, hotel rooms, convention centers, and my car. I love the efficiency of being able to get online from wherever I’m at to knock out some work.
What is your biggest achievement to date – professionally?
This is tough. I think my biggest professional achievements were when I was invited to speak at IIeX Europe in Amsterdam about virtual reality and marketing. Also, when I was nominated by my connections on LinkedIn to be the Keynote Speaker for VR Day at Cincinnati Startup Week.
What do you like most about your job?
My favorite part of working in tech is to spread joy and bring enthusiasm to a project. There are so many ways tech projects can fail but when we work together as people with a new technology we can create great things.
How do you see being a military spouse or being in the military space has helped you with your job?
Being a military spouse has helped me with my job because it’s allowed me to connect with colleagues who served or are part of the reserves on another level. There are special networking opportunities in the military space that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I am grateful for the unique bond that forms between everyone with a military connection.
How do you feel like Professional Organizations like SMSS can help you with your career or professional goals?
I think professional organizations like SMSS help with career and professional goals by connecting members to potential employers. Professional organizations provide learning opportunities, chances to speak and hear from other professionals in your field, they are great for networking. Talking to other professionals helps keep your mind engaged.
What advice would you give to new spouses about being in the STEM career field?
You have a lot of options. Join professional organizations, be active on LinkedIn, and be proud of being a military spouse in STEM. You’ve taken on a challenge, STEM career and military lifestyle, that not everyone gets a chance to take. You’ve got this!
Lily Snyder is an IT Consultant and freelance writer. She is passionate about telling her story of working remotely, cofounding a startup, and speaking worldwide all while PCSing from post to post. Lily is a proud military spouse to her husband, an active-duty Army physician. You can find her on her website Lilyotron.blog or reach out to her through LinkedIn.