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I married into the military with a Bachelor’s, Master’s, a Peace Corps stint, and years of experience in my toolbox. When we got stationed overseas less than a year after the wedding, I was overjoyed to continue expanding my career internationally. Once we arrived, I quickly learned that career opportunities for American military spouses in super-rural England were virtually non-existent – even with a loaded resume.

In case you’re unfamiliar, the military spouse unemployment rate is 24% (the country average is 3.6%) and the military spouse underemployment rate (finding work in the field in which you’re trained or that pays a living wage) is 70%. SEVENTY PERCENT. Despite most spouses being experienced, educated, trained or professionally certified, etc.

Enter the quarter-life career-identity crisis.

I took a job that paid less than half of what I was making stateside, and began building my (art) business on the side. Within a year I was making more with the business than I was in the j-o-b so I put in my notice. I thought I was set and that it could only go up from there – especially since I could take the business with me everywhere the military moved us.

3 years later we were stationed stateside again and I slowly learned that wasn’t the case. The market was completely different – the things that brought in the most income overseas definitely didn’t in Texas. The next three years would be a rollercoaster. Struggle alongside intermittent abundance and elation, sleepless nights and tears in the bathtub alongside the joy of having total creative freedom. It eventually became clear that if I wanted stability and consistency, I was going to have to go back to the world of working for someone else and restructure the business into a passive model.

I started applying to jobs allllll over place, thinking I wouldn’t have much trouble with my education, skills and experience. I heard nothing but crickets for over a year. Cue more tears in the bathtub and yet another career-identity crisis.

Fortunately, I live in a #milcity that loves and embraces the military community and learned that programs and resources and LOVE are abundant. I quickly found myself surrounded by amazing people that understood, that truly cared, and that had the tools and desire to help.

One night I found myself at a career networking event specifically for military spouses. One of the tables was labeled “Salesforce” and I ignored it because I wasn’t interested in “Sales” – naivete. When I came back by the table, there was this amazingly exuberant woman with a silver pixie cut and a colorful tatted arm sharing her story. She too was a military spouse who came from the world of art and nonprofit, whose career was also completely upended when she married into the military. And now she was the happiest she’s ever been in her career, makes the money she deserves to make, AND it ACTUALLY goes with her when she has to move? Do. Tell.

Skye Tyler changed my life that day. I went home and signed up for Vetforce and Trailhead just like she told me to and I’ve been addicted ever since. Soon after meeting Skye I attended my first #SalesforceSaturday with Nick Charles, a fabulously happy and generous vet whose life had also been changed, and that’s where I learned about Merivis.

Game changer. Here’s how it went down.

June: Met Skye Tyler

July: Attended my first #SalesforceSaturday, learned about Merivis from the amazing Nick Charles, and was accepted into Merivis soon after

August: Graduated from Merivis and gained a huge amazing family

September: Completed my Admin Certification

October: Landed my first Salesforce role with a massive consulting company, making more money than I’ve ever made in my life and gaining another wonderful family

November: Acheived Trailhead Ranger status and was chosen to go to Dreamforce as part of the 2019 Dream Team Cohort with Vetforce (now Salesforce Military) and met ANOTHER wonderful new family!

I never would have imagined any of this a year ago. It’s been an insane and amazing whirlwind ride and I know it’s only the beginning.

Not only is the training platform (Trailhead) completely free, it’s FUN. Like the most fun I’ve ever had while working, aside from painting. On top of that, the pay is amazing.

And then there’s the community. It’s called the Salesforce Ohana, and it is REAL. I’ve never felt so connected to so many strangers in my life. The community, especially the military arm of the community, is like family. We’re all here for each other, cheering for each other, celebrating with each other, looking out for each other, even though the majority have never met in person. It’s like career utopia. Seriously.

The #Merivets community takes it to another level, and that is why I’m sharing this story with you.

If you attended or watched the Opening Keynote of Dreamforce 2019, you’re already familiar with Merivis and the lives that have been impacted by what they provide for veterans and their spouses.

If you didn’t, please watch this short video to learn how this incredible volunteer led nonprofit changes lives, families and careers of both veterans and military spouses and how they are empowering individuals to succeed in their civilian career.

 

Incredible, right? Since they launched their first cohort in 2016 they have grown from a group of all volunteers to an established nonprofit and expanded their programs, veterans’ services and training opportunities for people like me to get a chance at an incredible career in the Salesforce ecosystem. And what’s even better? Is that they’re still expanding and doing everything they can to reach and upskill more individuals like myself. Lives are literally being changed by this organization, mine included, and that is where you come in: 

After being gifted with the indescribable experience of being part of the military cohort at Dreamforce 2019, I wanted to give back to this community in a meaningful way, to somehow convey my gratitude for all of this love and support and awesomeness.

One of the many things I love about Trailhead is the obvious nature-loving going on, since my other jam happens to be painting all the nature! So what better way to show my love than through a piece of artwork?!

Inspired by our beloved Trailhead, I give you “Gratitude”.

Gratitude with hanging lights
“Gratitude”
30″ x 20″
Acrylic & Sand on Canvas

100% of the profits from every sale of this print will benefit Merivis, a non-profit, volunteer-driven veterans’ service organization that focuses exclusively on preparing veterans for a career in Salesforce technology, through training, mentorship, and job-readiness guidance.

 

We’ve all got our own stories, and our own mountains behind us as well as ahead of us. Contributing to Merivis makes you a part of someone else’s story, and that creates ripples that have no limit.

So thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Emily Magone is a self-taught artist, entrepreneur and Salesforce enthusiast from NW Montana. She wants all women to rise into themselves to maximize their potential – whatever that might look like.

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