“Success is different for everyone — what does it mean to you?”

This was a key question Sarah Sykes posed to over 20 female service members and military spouses during a career building lunch and learn event at the United Service Organizations of North Carolina’s Fort Bragg Center, Feb. 22.

Sykes is a veteran and current Army spouse who started her own business, At Ease Candles, after success making them for friends and Family. She shared wide-ranging advice that included tips on starting a business and general life principles.

One way people can go wrong when trying to find the right fit in a job is by following their passion, Sykes said.

“It’s not always all about your passion,” she said. “We all have a lot of passions. I think it’s about finding your gifts and what you excel at — you will find a way to share those gifts.”

Sykes encouraged attendees to get to know themselves by writing down little things that they like or bother them during the day because it will help determine what they can offer an employer or as a business owner.

“Think about what your gifts are and think about the myriad ways you can use those,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be in the box that society has traditionally put that role in.”

Being unique is a huge asset when applying for a job, Sykes said. She advised women to accentuate what makes them different and why it would enhance the team.

In the morning sessions, attendees received information from Hire Heroes USA and participated in strategic planning and networking sessions.

The event is held quarterly at the USO of N.C. Fort Bragg Center and changes based on input from program participants, said Randy Baker, Warrior and Family Programs manager, USO of N.C.

“We take constant feedback at all of our programs and adapt the curriculum to meet the requested needs of our participants,” she said. “Hire Heroes USA has a proven formula for hiring success and we have received many requests for information on female leaders and entrepreneurs.”

Baker said events like this are especially important at Fort Bragg because it is the biggest military installation in the nation.

“Every day, there is a spouse who is having to start their career over or a female service member who is transitioning out of the military who is beginning their civilian career for the first time and by offering this program, we give these ladies a chance to come together, be empowered, network with each other and learn how to be successful in today’s job market,” she said.