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Military Spouse Rediscovers Her Passion, and a New Career, With BRCC

If you’re looking for the poster child for the military brat community, Black Rifle Coffee Company’s Shaunt’e Brinkley is your “it girl.” 


Brinkley, one of the leaders of BRCC’s evening-shift customer service teams, grew up, quite literally, in the military — her dad served 20 years in the Navy. They moved from California to Virginia when Brinkley was 10 years old, and she spent the rest of her childhood in the same place. 


“I met my husband in high school,” Brinkley said. “He’s also a military brat and was inspired by his dad’s service as an Army medic, so he knew even in high school that he wanted to join the Army.”


Upon graduating high school, she went straight into a dental assistant program, getting her certification within a year and a half, while her husband joined the Army. In the middle of wedding planning, Brinkley’s husband got ready to deploy. This changed their plans drastically, and Brinkley moved out to Texas, got married at the courthouse, and began coming up with a new career plan. 

 

Photo courtesy of Shaunt'e Brinkley/Black Rifle Coffee Company.

Even though Brinkley had completed her dental assistant program in Virginia, each state has different certification requirements, so she would have had to start the process over in Texas. To do so, she had to start saving all over again, which she did until her husband was assigned to USAG Benelux Brussels. 


“In Belgium, it was extremely difficult to get work as a military spouse,” Brinkley said. “You have to be able to speak French or Dutch, which I did not do. On a multinational installation, it's pretty hard to get a job if you can't ask for one.”


One of Brinkley’s friends suggested she apply for an animal care job on the American side of the installation (which consisted of a kennel/vet clinic, a commissary, and a PX). She worked there for five months, until she got pregnant. Because of the exotic animals the clinic cared for, she couldn’t continue work there while she was pregnant. And with no affordable or available child care, Brinkley spent the next two years as a stay-at-home mom. 


As the Brinkleys prepared to leave Belgium for San Antonio, Texas, she applied with a staffing agency, was hired by Animal Care Services, and went from an animal caretaker to an animal care technician with an affiliated rescue. Brinkley was in the middle of medical-care training for San Antonio Pets Alive!, when she had to pivot her career again. After a heartbreaking experience in the parvo ward, she was moved back to regular animal care. While helping with staffing, she ended up having an emotional breakdown. 

 
Photo courtesy of Shaunt'e Brinkley/Black Rifle Coffee Company.

“I left a job that I loved with no plan on how to move forward,” Brinkley said. “I just didn’t know what to do next, until eight months later when I came across a BRCC job listing post on a Lackland military wives Facebook group. I applied, interviewed, got hired, and went to orientation only to realize that I would not be working at a coffee shop.”


Nonetheless, the position Brinkley was hired into was what she called her “saving grace.”


Since Brinkley started with BRCC in November 2019, the amount she’s grown and the confidence she’s developed are undeniable.


“I was very shy, I just wanted to stay in my cubicle and stick to myself,” Brinkley said. “Trey Witzell, [then a BRCC Customer Engagement Supervisor,] taught me how to do customer service calls and just threw me right into a call. It was not what I wanted to be doing, but I excelled in that department. In 2019, we didn’t have a team lead, but Sara North-Smith, [then a BRCC Customer Service Representative,] took me under her wing, and I learned how to be more outgoing.”

Photo courtesy of Shaunt'e Brinkley/Black Rifle Coffee Company.


Five months later, a team lead position opened up. Brinkley applied for it, got it, and also got orders to Alaska. Her first fear was that she would be let go. Instead, Witzell told her to get settled, check in online, and let them know when she was ready to get back to work. After two weeks of PTO, Brinkley was officially the evening customer service lead. 


“I’ve learned how to be more professional, how to be quiet and listen to hear what people are saying to me,” Brinkley said. “My own personal growth over the last two years is noticeable. I remember telling Sara that I couldn’t train people, and a few months later I was helping to develop training classes. Getting the opportunity to contribute to this company that has built me up so much is wonderful.”


Brinkley said the best part of being on the BRCC customer service team was hearing from the customers who were so happy because of Black Rifle Coffee — especially those who have been in a bad place but because of something BRCC has done, have been able to come out of that. 


“It’s been an honor to work here, and I’m going to stay here until they tell me otherwise,” Brinkley said. “BRCC will forever be the best job I’ve ever had. I love this place and everyone that I get to meet, and it truly amazes me to see how they manage to cultivate an environment with so many people of similar goals and passions.”