Emmanuel Antwi is proof that it never hurts to ask a question. And in Emmanuel’s case, finding the answer to his question has paid off with a rewarding new post-military career for him and financial security for his family.
Emmanuel, a health care specialist, assigned to Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia, visited his military installation’s transition office armed with this question — is there a program for service members to help them pivot into an information technology (IT) career? Specifically, is there a program for transitioning service members pursuing a career in the Salesforce ecosystem? The answer was, “Wait, I heard there’s a new program, but I need to find out. Let me do some research, and I’ll get back to you.”
Less than a year later, Emmanuel is the first Army soldier to graduate from Hiring Our Heroes’ Salesforce Fellowship Program. After completing his three-month internship, Emmanuel was offered a position as a Salesforce Senior Consultant at Publicis Sapient. His first day is September 1, three weeks before his military separation date.
“As a veteran, a career as a Salesforce professional allows me to utilize my skills and passion as I enter this new phase of life. I enjoy using Salesforce to help customers reach their organizational goals and targets,” Emmanuel said.
‘Salesforce Offers You the Opportunity to Fix Problems’
The Salesforce Fellowship Program is a Department of Defense SkillBridge-eligible internship connecting transitioning service members with in-demand roles working on the Salesforce platform with host companies throughout the United States. Salesforce is the world’s largest customer relationship management (CRM) platform.
One misconception is that working as a Salesforce professional means that you are a salesperson. Salesforce is a platform that allows companies to effectively and efficiently serve their customers. The technology is used by both Fortune 500 companies and small business owners around the world.
“In the Army, every day, you find solutions and fix problems to achieve the mission. That’s what Salesforce does,” Emmanuel said. “Salesforce offers you the opportunity to fix problems.”
Following a successful pilot year in 2020 focused on placing veterans and military spouses in Salesforce roles, the Hiring Our Heroes’ Salesforce Fellowship Program was expanded to include transitioning service members.
This program works similarly to other programs within the DoD SkillBridge program, including the Hiring Our Heroes’ Corporate Fellowship Program. Candidates must be on active duty within their 180-day window and have command approval to participate. Interns must be available to work 30 to 45 days after the fellowship.
“Think of the fellowship as an interview. Every day you get to show off your strengths,” said Stephanie Murphy, program manager of the Salesforce Fellowship Program at Hiring Our Heroes.
One more thing to note, the Salesforce fellowship applicants are not required to have a college degree. Also, the internships are 100% remote.
‘It Took Me Six Months to Earn My Cert’
Emmanuel’s Salesforce journey was triggered by a conversation with a stranger in the waiting room at a car dealership.
This man utilized Salesforce in his business for 20 years, and he explained the benefits of the platform to Emmanuel. He also told him about the demand for professionals to work in this field. By 2024, it is estimated that the Salesforce ecosystem will create more than four million jobs. The two exchanged phone numbers and decided to keep in touch. Later, he invited Emmanuel to have dinner at his house. A friendship was born, which later grew into a mentorship. All because of that one conversation in a waiting room.
“With a passion for new ideas and innovation, I was intrigued,” Emmanuel said.
Originally from Ghana, Emmanuel moved to the United States to further his higher education goals. After completing a bachelor’s degree in economics, Emmanuel earned an MBA in accounting and finance from Webster University. In 2018, he enlisted in the U.S. Army for a consistent career.
As Emmanuel tells the story, this car dealership conversation sparked his interest in Salesforce, but he didn’t start the online training available for free to the military community through Salesforce Military right away.
Salesforce Military virtually offers free self-paced training to service members, veterans, and military spouses. The certification exam is also available for free through Salesforce. You don’t need to be transitioning out of the military to be eligible for the training. It is open to active duty too.
“I completed one module a week. I did that for one year,” Emmanuel said.
In 2020, Emmanuel had some extra time due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. His pending separation date from the Army also motivated him to dig into Salesforce Trailhead. He started to complete three modules per week instead of only one. He earned his Salesforce Administrator certification in October 2020.
“It took me six months to get it done because I still had my military duties,” Emmanuel explained. He proudly passed the certification exam on his first attempt.
Gain the Experience to Jumpstart Your New Career
Like many people that have their Salesforce certification, Emmanuel’s next goal was to gain hands-on experience using the platform. He needed to demonstrate to employers that he understood how to use the platform.
This is where Emmanuel’s story converges with Hiring Our Heroes. The transition specialist at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall put Emmanuel in touch with the Salesforce Fellowship Program, and he immediately applied. He’s grateful that he did.
“The program gave me the confidence that once I transition out, I have the experience to go out and get a job,” Emmanuel said.
Since Emmanuel was offered and accepted a full-time position with Publicis Sapient, his fellowship host company, he has a seamless transition from soldier to Salesforce consultant. The Salesforce Fellowship Program currently has a 92% job offer rate for interns at the end of the fellowship, Murphy said.
Transitioning service members interested in participating in the Salesforce Fellowship Program are required to earn their Salesforce certification prior to applying for the fellowship. The training is not completed during the internship.
Emmanuel recommends that service members explore and research their career options long before they leave the Armed Forces. And don’t be afraid to ask questions.
“If I didn’t ask, I wouldn’t have known this program was out there,” Emmanuel said. “Ask for what you want and you will find the right answer for you and your transition out of the military.”