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.
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 employed military spouses, many choose between quitting their jobs to relocate with their service member or living apart to keep their jobs.
Research shows that military spouses are willing to undergo training to secure portable in-demand careers. Yet, there is a gap between this talent pool willing to learn Salesforce and an abundance of available jobs in the Salesforce ecosystem.
A Smooth Transition into a Tech Career
Hiring Our Heroes and Salesforce, along with 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.
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 employment opportunities.
Prioritizing My Salesforce Training Over Filling Out Job Applications
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. Travis 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 pivoted 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 prepares military spouses for a tech career, specifically in cloud application development. San Antonio is the second location to have a Microsoft Military Spouse Technology Academy. The academy 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.
Becoming a Salesforce Trailhead Ranger
A mentor suggested he become a Salesforce administrator. In 2018, there were nearly 50,000 job postings for Salesforce administrators with an average salary of $91,000, according to research from Salesforce.
Immediately, Travis was exploring Trailhead, Salesforce’s on-demand training portal. Soon, he reached Trailhead Ranger status — Travis 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.
‘I Have Been Ping-Ponging all Over the Place Career-Wise’
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 hands-on experience, Travis is hoping to receive a job offer.
“I made a shift to the Salesforce ecosystem and put all my eggs in that basket,” Travis said.
I’m Working on Real-Life Projects and Running into Real-Life Barriers
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. The list of host companies also includes 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 other employers, this fellowship is their introduction to hiring veterans and military spouses.
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 Einstein Next Best Action and Einstein Analytics. He practices using those products on his projects. Travis 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.
‘You Get a Salesforce Cert and People Start Throwing Jobs at You’
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.
“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.
If he doesn’t get a job offer, Travis is hopeful that his fellowship 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.”
For the First Time, I’m in a Position of Power
“I have news. I am officially a full-time employee at ICIX,” Travis said during his final weekly video call with Hiring Our Heroes. His satisfaction shines through the laptop screen.
Until recently, Travis had been unemployed for 544 days, ever since he moved to San Antonio. His wife 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.
The Fast Track to the Highest Salary with Zero Experience
Lastly, Salesforce is a good fit for many military job seekers because of the employment opportunities. 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.