Breaking into the Salesforce Ecosystem: A Military Veteran’s Story

Merivis recently named Sercante as their “Partner of the Year” for 2022, and I couldn’t be more proud to be a #Merivet AND a #SercanteDragon. In the spirit of this award, I want to share the story of my journey into a new career in the Salesforce ecosystem as a transitioning military veteran.

Summer is in full swing, and folks are having BBQs, going to baseball games, and heading out for vacation. This is also the time of year when many active-duty servicemembers and their families are getting ready to move from one duty station to another, or transition from the service back to civilian life. 

Every year, over 200,000 active-duty sailors, soldiers, airmen, marines, guardians, and coast guardsmen separate or retire from active duty. This is a large group of highly motivated, smart, and loyal potential employees that have no idea that they can break into tech and the Salesforce ecosystem. 

First, I’m going to tell you a bit about my journey and then I’ll lay out resources for you and your team to tap into this talent goldmine. 

My Limited Duty Officer Class in front of the USS Constitution in Newport RI, circa 2011

My journey from sailor to Salesforce solution engineer

Why am I talking about this? 

Well,  a little over two years ago, I was in that same group of transitioning service members. I was coming up on 20 years of active duty service and was preparing for life after the Navy (Yes, I’m a retired sailor). I knew I didn’t want to be one of the guys who leaves the service only to come back as a Government employee — it just isn’t for me. 

I spent a lot of time mulling over my options, and I knew I wanted to break into tech. But that’s a nebulous destination at best with so many options (too many to count!). 

By now, you’re probably thinking…

“Jason, get to the point, I mean isn’t this blog supposed to be about marketing?”

Well, not in the traditional sense but be patient young grasshopper. 

Here I am reenlisting one of the best sailors I ever worked with. Reenlisting a sailor was a sacred honor I cherish to this day.

Introduction to big tech through military-sponsored program

In 2019 as I was planning my escape, er I mean, retirement, I applied to and was accepted into a program called Fourblock. It’s a program specifically designed to help veterans and transitioning Active Duty break into tech. 

We got to do some cool stuff like visiting the T-Mobile HQ, Microsoft Campus, Amazon (they are truly everywhere in Seattle), and meeting with and networking with Veteran Group Leaders at these Fortune 100 companies. 

We did resume reviews, interview prep, and networking! Pretty awesome stuff, right? I mean I had never seen a place that had craft beer ON TAP in the lunchroom, wild!

It was during this time in my Fourblock cohort when I was lamenting about breaking into tech without any tech skills (queue up imposter syndrome), and someone recommended Salesforce.

I jumped on Trailhead, created my profile, and got to work. ANNNND then the pandemic hit — my job got super crazy and I totally neglected Trailhead, Astro, and all the cool things I was starting to get hyped about with Salesforce. 

Learning Salesforce through the Merivis cohort program

Fast forward to Spring 2021 and I’m starting to panic about my post-Navy career. Then, after one fateful Veterati Mentorship phone call, I was directed to the Merivis website

I applied to and was accepted into Admin Cohort 20, and I achieved my Salesforce Administrator certification in June of 2021. 

It was through a Merivis contact, the amazing (and former Sercante Dragon) Hayley Tuller, that I was introduced to the leadership team at Sercante. And the rest is history. 

Team Sercante with Merivis Executive Director Kate Perez

Since joining Sercante in September 2021, I’ve added 2 more certifications and I truly love my job! 

I get to work with thought leaders in the Salesforce and Pardot (MCAE) space every day. And the best part is that it’s fully remote. My commute is the 15 seconds of walking downstairs to my office after taking my dogs out. 

What is Merivis?  

The name Merivis comes from the Latin roots of Merit and Force, Merivis is a non-profit Veteran’s Service Organization (VSO) that specializes in “Transforming military years into tech careers.”

 It was founded by Hector Perez, Kate Perez, and Joe Castro and focuses exclusively on helping veterans, military spouses (current and former), and transitioning service members break into the Salesforce Ecosystem. From Hector’s experience as a hiring manager at various tech companies, he recognized a growing talent gap that veterans could be trained and hired to fill, which inspired him, Kate, and Joe to found Merivis. 

Merivis provides no-cost training by Salesforce Certified Instructors to members on a wide range of certifications: 

  • Salesforce Administrator
  • Platform App Builder
  • CRM Analytics
  • MCAE (Pardot)
  • and more

Members of each cohort are paired up with a coach to help them with the technical side of understanding Salesforce and a mentor for accountability and guidance on job seeking and networking. 

Seriously, that one phone call with  Jeri Lim and her advice to check out Merivis changed my life. 

Why Veterans? (or Transitioning Military, or Mil Spouses?)

We all know and appreciate military veterans for the jobs they do while wearing a uniform. But what if I told you that even the most junior enlisted sailor has better project management skills than the kid who just graduated from college? 

Real-Talk: Any member of the military who has served for at least 2 years has been a project manager. And the same applies to military spouses. Military spouses are project managers, logistics experts, and financial gurus. No joke.  

The point I’m trying to make is that most, if not all, vets, transitioning service members, and military spouses have those “soft skills” you see on job posts. 

Hard skills versus soft skills 

Hard skills are the things that can be taught or learned — like coding, building automation, writing flows, building marketing campaigns, developing reports, etc. 

Soft skills are more abstract and tend to be hard to codify — like being a team player, adaptability (whoa boy is that a military requirement), authenticity, passion, and leadership. 

You can study a book on coding and retain the information and make use of the skills immediately, but it takes time and effort to put soft skills into practice. And it takes a lot more time to effectively use and master them. 

Ok, you’ve convinced me. So what’s next? 

I’ve only scratched the surface of what the veteran and mil-spouse community can bring to the table. And I could write a series of blogs about each group, vertical, or specialization that veterans and mil-spouses can excel in. 

However, to keep this more of a blog and less of a Doctoral Thesis, I’m going to sum things up for you. 

  1. Veterans, mil-spouses, and transitioning service members are often overlooked as a resource in the martech space and Salesforce ecosystem when searching for talent. 
  2. Training in technology is easy. Training in soft skills is hard. Vets and mil-spouses probably have the soft skills you’re looking for. 
  3. Merivis and other amazing VSOs provide no-cost technical training to vets, mil-spouses, and transitioning service members. 
  4. Finally, if you connect the dots, Merivis and other VSOs fill the skill gaps for vets, mil-spouses, and transitioning service members so they can come to the Salesforce ecosystem and find fulfilling careers. At the same time, they’re filling skill gaps that make it hard to hire people for technical specialty roles.

Technology career resources for military veterans

There are a number of great resources out there for companies looking to hire veterans and veterans looking to break into the tech industry. 

Here are some links:

My sincere goal was to introduce you to these wonderful organizations, bring awareness to this untapped talent resource, and share a little bit about my story.  

If you have any questions, feel free to hit me up on LinkedIn or drop a comment below.

Cheers!

Original article: Breaking into the Salesforce Ecosystem: A Military Veteran’s Story

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