Like most military brats, Antonique Deveaux-Shores knows all too well the subculture and lifestyle that comes with having a parent serving in the United States Armed Forces. Constantly moving and never having a place to call home, this way of life followed her into adulthood when she joined the U.S. Air Force and eventually met, then married, her husband.
Retiring from the military after 16 years, Antonique wanted to find a home and stability, not only for her life, but for the next stage of her career. Her quest for stability led her to a place she never envisioned — Fort Madison, Iowa.
“My husband was originally from Iowa, and when we were both done with our service, he wanted to move back to be near his family,” she said. However, unlike Antonique, her husband had a job waiting for him in his hometown, working for his father’s property management company.
“I was making this huge life transition and, being new to Iowa, didn’t know what I didn’t know,” she said. “I quickly realized that I could use all help I could get to find the right job.”
The Air Force provided her with a foundation in project management, human resources and financial management. She just needed a hand gaining connections and guidance throughout the job process. Antonique found what she was looking for through Home Base Iowa (HBI), a program that provides veterans and transitioning service members with opportunities and benefits for a successful move to Iowa.
“I didn’t know something like the Home Base Iowa program even existed,” she said. “But after I was introduced to it and saw firsthand how they specifically targeted and helped military people, I immediately began to feel more confident about my job search and living in Iowa.”
Many of the positions Antonique held while in the military matched the human resources career track, and it was her hope that she could enter that field. With assistance from Home Base Iowa, Antonique was able to obtain a professionally recognized human resources certification, update her resume and prepare for interviews.
“The thing I appreciate the most was learning how to interview in person better,” she said. “I was able to get feedback on my nervous ticks and advice on how to sell myself. Working closely with them helped me find the right position. Not just any job, but the one that was right for me, in the right area.”
Antonique found the “right job” and today works as a human resources generalist for Conagra Brands. After dealing with what she admits was a bit of a culture shock, she says that Iowa now feels like home. “Although I didn’t grow up here, and had no ties to the town or state, the community here really embraced me,” she said. “I joke to my husband that I now probably know more people in the area than he does!”
In addition to the welcoming people, Antonique adds that the security of Fort Madison has been a welcome change. “Most of the places I lived in the past were larger cities,” she said. “There is just a hustle that goes along with those big cities — everything has to have been done yesterday, and people seem to be only focused on their own wants and needs. But here, it feels more community focused, people are more relaxed and willing to give you the shirt of their backs if you need it.”
When reflecting on the road that led her to her job and southeast Iowa, Antonique says she is extremely grateful for the help she received along the way, specifically from Home Base Iowa.
“With Home Base Iowa, it never felt like I was just a number or simply working with a mandatory veteran resource, but instead a friend,” she said. “When I finished my military career, I was worried about starting all over again at ground zero. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. I love coming to work every day — which is something I couldn’t say when I was in the service.”