Since 2020, Hiring Our Heroes (HOH) and Salesforce have worked together to connect transitioning service members, veterans, and military spouses with Salesforce certifications to companies looking to grow, strengthen, and diversify their workforces.
The Salesforce Fellowship Program (SFP) candidates are not required to have a college degree to participate in this 100% remote fellowship, but they must have a Salesforce certification before the cohort application deadline. They do not earn the certification in the HOH fellowship. The certification is available through Salesforce Military. Since 2020, 215 fellows have graduated, and 60 are enrolled in the current fellowship.
This month, Hiring Our Heroes is sharing Jienelle Herndon’s Salesforce Fellowship Program success story. An Air Force veteran with a service-connected disability, she shares the hope she now feels after completing free Salesforce training and regaining purposeful employment in a new career field.
Name: Jienelle Herndon
Status: Air Force veteran and military spouse
Military Occupational Specialty: Military Paralegal
Hometown: Angeles City, Philippines
Current location: San Francisco, California
Current job title: Senior Sales Operation Tools Analyst
Tell us about yourself.
I am a licensed nurse practitioner actively transitioning into the Salesforce ecosystem. Along with my master’s degree from Duke University, I have earned the Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) credential, the Salesforce administrator certification, Salesforce business analyst certification, and Slack Certified administrator certification.
Currently, I am working on a data analytics certificate from Hiring Our Heroes’ Career Forward program, as well as the Salesforce CPQ certification sponsored by Merivis.
I believe the Salesforce health cloud is very underutilized, and I know firsthand the pain points those medical providers go through with their current software. I want to be a part of the revolutionary changes I am sure will happen with cloud-based computing and healthcare.
Why did you join the Air Force?
My father joined the military. That is how we received our naturalization, so it was always ingrained in me to be patriotic. I was in ROTC in high school, and after 9/11, it was the obvious choice for me. I always thought the military was going to be my one and only career.
How did you hear about the Salesforce Fellowship Program?
I learned about Hiring Our Heroes and Salesforce through a Veteran Affairs email in 2021. I shared the information with my husband, a data analyst, who pursued the opportunity. Watching him go through the process captivated me; I fell in love with the Salesforce Military Trailhead and saw the potential of health cloud and its current underutilization.
I started my journey in May 2022. I loved that the program was accessible to those with disabilities, and most of all, the Salesforce ecosystem is very friendly. By June 2022, I had obtained my admin certification. By July, I had conquered the business analyst certification (on the first day it was available).
I see you were hired directly during the matching process of the fellowship, so you didn’t participate in a 12-week fellowship. How did the Salesforce Fellowship Program help you land your current role?
Although I did not go through the fellowship program, Hiring Our Heroes was the catalyst that started my journey. I wouldn’t be where I am today without that VA email about HOH.
Why is a career as a Salesforce professional a good fit for you?
I had never mentioned it previously, as I wanted to be chosen for merit, but I am a veteran with a service-connected disability due to multiple sclerosis. Cognitively, I function without limitations. But, due to my disability, I sometimes have certain physical impediments.
A career with Salesforce has given me hope I can use my previous knowledge, interest, and skills to do good while also being an advocate against ableism and demonstrating veterans with disabilities can be productive and capable.
Nearly a third (29.6%) of the 12 million veterans ages 21-64 report having a disability. Like all Americans with disabilities, veterans with disabilities are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). A national survey of veterans with disabilities found:
- 57% feared they would be discriminated against in hiring because of their disabilities.
- 36% intended to disclose their disabilities to an employer.
- 27% intended to request an accommodation when employed.
I made the decision to share my story because I want to help individuals with disabilities to feel empowered to regain purposeful employment.Jienelle Herndon
What does it mean to have companies willing to invest in and hire veterans with disabilities?
It is the difference between stagnation and productivity. It is the difference between depression and hope.
Even though I used to be “capable,” my disabilities result in a lot of insecurity. I talk about it all the time with my providers.
Having a company that believes in me and supports me gives me newfound optimism that I can rejoin the world in my own way, and that authenticity is accepted and valued.
Salesforce Military offers free online training and certification exams for active-duty service members, veterans, and military spouses. Visit Salesforce Military to learn more and to sign up for the classes.
How has Salesforce Military impacted your career?
Salesforce Military provided free training, exam certifications, and more that would have been financially burdensome to my husband and me. I continue to be grateful that they offer this for more than one certification, as I intend to learn as much as possible.
Without Hiring Our Heroes, where would you be right now?
I would have wanted to join the workforce, but I didn’t have a clue on how to go about doing it without taking a position I knew would put me in jeopardy of injury. Without Salesforce Military, I would not have even considered Salesforce as a career.
Did you know? The job offer rate is 95%, and the average starting salary is $90,000 for SFP graduates.
What advice would you give to veterans and military spouses considering a career as a Salesforce professional?
Be curious! I was curious when I read the advertisement, then became even more so when I witnessed what it was all about with my husband. Curiosity helped me obtain my Salesforce administrator certification within five weeks – I think I bugged my Merivis coach on Slack nearly every day.
Is there anything else you want us to know about you?
I was super hesitant to come forward because I am very private about my diagnosis. I know Salesforce as a company is amazing when it comes to disabilities, though not everyone is neither accommodating nor kind.
However, after consulting with friends, family, and my providers, I made the decision to share my story because I want to help individuals with disabilities, or even those going through a rough patch and who would like motivation, to feel empowered to regain purposeful employment.