On a clear brisk Saturday evening in October, over 125 Merivis alumni and their families (for many it was the first time to introduce their spouses or family to Merivis and it’s mission), recruiters, past and current sponsors, friends and supporters gathered in Austin Texas to celebrate three years of Merivis. We met to celebrate three years of great veteran stories, connections made, jobs landed and to take time and reflect on the impact this non-profit has had on the lives of military veterans and their spouses. This event was all possible due to the generous sponsorship of Tito’s Vodka, which allows Merivis to keep all proceeds for the Merivis veterans programs. Merivis raised $2500 through event registration, which was matched by Tito’s Vodka as well. Beloved Salesforce instructor Dan Goldston who has taught FOUR Salesforce classes was awarded the fist Merivis Community MVP for all his contributions as a volunteer and instructor to Merivis.
As Merivis moves into the next year, we did have an exciting announcement related to board leadership. Beginning in 2019, Joe Castro (founding member) will take over as board president of the organization. We are excited to have Joe lead the board and thank Hector Perez, who has lead the board and the organization since its inception in July 2015. During the event, we also celebrated cohort sponsors – Accenture, UST Global, Salesforce, National Instruments for their continued support of our veteran programs. Lastly, we would like to thank Cloud Pathfinder for selecting Merivis as their Pledge 1% nonprofit partner!
Jerry Markham – Cohort 2 Grad Sharing His Story
My time in the military started when I was in high school, I enlisted in the Army Reserves my junior year. I went to basic training at Ft Leavenworth, MO the summer before my senior year and the following summer I went to AIT school at Ft Gordon, GA to be a Tactical Telecommunications Center Operator. I loved all that technology and when I got back to my unit in San Antonio I worked with a great team of smart and resourceful men and women in the 694th Maintenance Btn HQ. When I graduated I used my GI Bill to attend the UT Health Science Center for a degree in Dental Laboratory Technology. My last semester in school was also when the Gulf War happened, but my unit wasn’t called up. I was end the end of my 6 year commitment and the timing seemed right so when I graduated I decided not to re-enlist. I moved to Dallas for a job as a Porcelain Technician at a large dental lab.
My civilian job before I joined Merivis was actually phased out in 2013 during a reorganization of the national nonprofit at. I was there 11 years, starting at the Call Center and after several promotions I was the Director of Online Strategies. It was a dream job for me, I managed all of the online resources for 6 states. I built a network of dozens of WordPress blogs, created hundreds of landing pages and delivered thousands of email blasts. I was working with cutting-edge technology again, but when that position ended I wasn’t able to get a job doing similar work because most of those positions at that level require a degree. So I used my severance to go back to school full-time and earned an Associates degree in Computer Programming for the Web, but after 2 years I was running out of resources and had to get back to work. As I was networking for new opportunities a former employer who knew I was a veteran put me in touch with a friend who knew about the Merivis Foundation. Soon after I was accepted to Cohort 3 and the rest is happily ever after!
I think the thing I struggle with the most in the transition from military to civilian world is the lack of the sense of a team. I found the current job market to be a highly competitive place to traverse without a good support network. The Merivis family was there for me in some pretty down times, the commeradery of Salesforce Saturdays and encouragement from my mentor Mary Kellum kept me motivated. She even interviewed me for a position at her current employer and although I didn’t get that job she provided an excellent reference for the job I have today.
The resources that Merivis provided has been fundamental in establishing my new career path. The Admin 201 class gave me an education in a relevant technology, and the certification gave me validation in a growing industry. After the class Hector sent frequent emails about job opportunities and the Merivis family gave me the sense of team that I hadn’t felt since military days. And it was the referral from Merivis that started me down the path that lead to my current position as Junior Salesforce Administrator at Tito’s Handmade Vodka!
I’m interested in a Salesforce career because Mark Benioff had the vision many years ago that the cloud is the future, and the future is now. I’m able to leverage all of my previous work experience in online strategies, as well as my education in computer programming, and work with today’s most cutting-edge web technologies. There are endless training resources and I have an entire folder of bookmarked blogs to try and keep up with. And the Salesforce community is stronger than anything I’ve experienced since the military.
Now that I’m a part of the Salesforce ecosystem my career goals are to keep collecting certifications, create apps that enable my company to increase thier philanthropic efforts, and pay it forward by helping to spread the word to other veterans alike that the Merivis Foundation can provide them the education and resources to aid in their transition to a new career path in Salesforce.
If I could tell someone considering a career in Salesforce one thing it would be do not wait to get started, take advantage of this opportunity. I tried the traditional education route but even with a degree and years of experience it wasn’t until Merivis helped me get certified as a Salesforce Admin that recruiters came calling. I wish I would have known sooner but I am making the most of the opportunity that’s been presented to me and anyone who has spent time in the military already has the motivation to be successful in Salesforce.
Most recently Merivis has been a continuing part of my career by accepting me in to the first Platform App Certification course. Merivis is the reason I joined Twitter at all so I can tell the world my success story and promote the good work of the good people of the Merivis Foundation!
A few more pics from the Merivis 3 year anniversary party
Hector Perez Jr was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. After joining the US Air Force in 1990, he trained to be a combat medic and served in Operation Desert Storm.
Since graduating from the University of Texas, Hector has two decades of experience driving complex global IT initiatives for an impressive host of large-scale organizations such as Dell, Inc. and continues to work in the Salesforce.com eco-system. In conjunction with his consulting and IT management work, Hector has received extensive CRM accreditation, including certification as a Salesforce.com Administrator, Salesforce.com Developer, and Salesforce.com Certified Sales Cloud Consultant.