A program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation
In many ways, Travis Malott is your typical military spouse. This Park City, Utah native has a master’s degree and a resume filled with impressive work experience. Yet, like too many military spouses, he found himself unemployed after a military move from Tampa to San Antonio.
According to our research, the military spouse unemployment rate is four times higher than the national rate and even when military spouses find jobs, they are more likely to be underemployed than their civilian peers. For those men and women that are working, many are forced to choose between quitting their jobs to relocate with their service member or living apart in order to maintain a stable career.
Our research shows that many military spouses are willing to undergo training and upskill in order to secure a portable in-demand career. They have the desire to work, but until recently, there has been a gap between this available talent pool that is willing to earn Salesforce certifications and an abundance of job openings in the Salesforce ecosystem.
Hiring Our Heroes and Salesforce, along with an abundance of military-ready employers, are working together to change the military spouse unemployment narrative through the Salesforce Fellowship Program. The paid, 12-week, hands-on experience prepares fellows for a smooth transition into Salesforce careers. Participating host companies benefit by gaining access to skilled, certified professionals, while also developing a more comprehensive understanding of the veteran and military spouse job market.
The first cohort made up of 37 veterans and military spouses recently completed their remote fellowships with 21 host companies representing a variety of industries throughout the United States. Travis was among the first fellows to participate and Hiring Our Heroes followed him throughout his fellowship journey. Each week, he described what he learned, what challenges he faced, and if this fellowship fulfilled the program’s mission of connecting military spouses with careers in the Salesforce ecosystem.
Like many of the Salesforce fellows, Travis doesn’t have a computer science degree or a tech background. He has a bachelor’s degree in economics with a minor in international studies from San Diego State University. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Masters in global sustainability and a focus on sustainable energy. He studied abroad in China for a semester and completed an internship with the U.S. Department of State.
After moving to Texas for his wife’s Air Force career, Travis decided to pivot his career away from sustainable energy and into the tech industry. In 2019, he was selected for the first Microsoft Military Spouse Technology Academy cohort in San Antonio. The Microsoft academy is a 22-week training program that provides skills to military spouses to prepare them for a career in the technology industry, specifically in cloud application development. JBSA is the second location to have a Microsoft Military Spouse Technology Academy, which started as a pilot program in Tacoma, Washington.
Travis graduated from the program in March 2020, just as the coronavirus pandemic was starting to impact the U.S. economy. He didn’t receive a job offer after completing this program.
A mentor suggested he become a Salesforce administrator, pointing out that the demand is set to create 3.3 million jobs in the Salesforce ecosystem by 2022. In 2018, there were nearly 50,000 job postings for Salesforce administrators, boasting an average salary of $91,000, according to the latest research from Salesforce.
Immediately, Travis was exploring Trailhead, Salesforce’s on-demand training portal. Soon, he reached Trailhead Ranger status, meaning that he had completed a total of 100 badges and had at least 50,000 points on Trailhead.
“I found myself prioritizing developing my Salesforce skills, earning badges, and reaching Trailhead Ranger over sending job applications into what felt like a dark abyss,” Travis said.
Travis passed his exam and became a Salesforce certified administrator. He applied for the Hiring Our Heroes’ Salesforce Fellowship Program, was selected to participate, and aligned with host company, ICIX.
“I have been ping-ponging all over the place career-wise because I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” Travis said.
Now, with the Salesforce certification and 12 weeks of experience at ICIX, Travis is hoping to walk away from this experience with a job offer.
“I made a shift to the Salesforce ecosystem and put all my eggs in that basket,” Travis said.
Travis has three goals for his fellowship. First, he wants to obtain skills that will allow him to continue his career despite military moves. Secondly, he wants to gain Salesforce experience that brings value to ICIX. Finally, he wants to help employers better understand the military spouse talent pool.
“I want to represent the military community in a professional, hungry-to-learn way that shines a light on the military spouse underemployment issues we are facing throughout the country,” he said.
The Salesforce fellowship host companies include nonprofit organizations like Team Red, White & Blue and Operation Gratitude along with consulting companies like Capgemini Government Solutions and Slalom Consulting. A handful of host companies, such as Booz Allen Hamilton and Accenture Federal Services, already have established military recruiting programs in their talent acquisition departments. However, for many employers, this fellowship is their introduction to military hiring.
Three weeks into his fellowship, Travis volunteers to work on projects. He lends a hand, even when it means learning something new. During one of his initial weeks, Travis studies something he is totally unfamiliar with called Einstein Next Best Action and Einstein Analytics and uses those products on his projects. He learns about wireframing and practices building a wire frame using the Sketch tool.
“Trailhead is a great way to learn things on my own. But I’m learning so much more when I’m working on real-life projects and running into real-life barriers, which is exactly what I wanted in my fellowship,” Travis said.
Travis believes that the freedom to learn new things within Salesforce is one of benefits of the fellowship.
“I am learning things more quickly than if I was only studying them,” Travis said. He’s hopeful that his expertise will lead to a full-time job offer before graduation in October.
“If there’s a bright side to this COIVD-19 pandemic, it’s that I get a remote job — a job that moves with me,” Travis said.
Even if he doesn’t get a job offer with his host company, Travis is hopeful that his fellowship experience will lead him to employment with a different company. Being exposed to Salesforce and its ecosystem, he begins to realize just how in-demand this training is.
“You get a Salesforce cert and people start throwing jobs at you,” he said. “I’ve never had that happen before.”
“I have news. I am officially a full-time employee at ICIX,” Travis said as he smiles during his final weekly video call with Hiring Our Heroes. His satisfaction shines through the laptop screen.
Up until now, Travis had been unemployed for 544 days, ever since he and his spouse Hannah moved to San Antonio. Hannah is a pediatrician in the Air Force.
“It’s the military spouse plight. We know we have to move and that we are going to move. But when my (former) boss told me, ‘sorry, we can’t keep you,’ it was hard. Since then I’ve had a chip on my shoulder,” Travis said.
Now that’s changed.
“For the first time, I find myself in a position of power instead of desperation,” he said. “This company is 100% remote, which means I can do it anywhere. I can keep my career the next time we PCS.”
That’s not all.
“Salesforce as a platform offers something incredibly unique and valuable to the military community; adaptability,” he said.
A career as a Salesforce professional is a good fit for many veterans and military spouses because the opportunities to have a career within a fast-growing industry anywhere in the United States. Travis strongly feels that the Salesforce Fellowship Program was “the fastest track to the highest salary with zero experience.”
“My offer was better than if I was a direct hire because I was able to prove that I knew what I was doing,” Travis said.
Given the success of the Salesforce Fellowship Program, Salesforce is extending the program into 2021.
“If anyone is on the fence wondering if they should do this program, they should do it. Get your Salesforce certs and apply for the fellowship. It’s been a life-changing program for me and my family,” Travis said.
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A Program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation