Alumni Spotlight: Sheldon Simmons

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Sheldon was in the Merivis Foundation’s inaugural cohort 1 back in the Fall of 2015. Since then Sheldon has stayed the course, become Salesforce certified and has been an example of whats possible when you connect the dots of Salesforce, the community and drive. We are proud of you Sheldon and thanks for sharing your story belowHector Perez

 

Sheldon meeting Salesforce cofounder Parker Harris with fellow Merivis alumni Yann and Ken

My name is Sheldon Simmons. I served eight years in the Navy as an Aviation Boatswain Mate. Before the Merivis Foundation, I didn’t have much experience dealing with computers or anything IT related. While in the Navy, when I wasn’t working on the flight deck, I would read magazines about jobs in the civilian sector. I would always read that IT was one of the fastest growing jobs and also one of the best paying. I was convinced that I needed to pursue a career in IT once my military enlistment was complete. Upon separation from the Navy, I end up working low skill jobs that didn’t pay much. At that time I didn’t have the skills I needed to acquire a higher paying job I desired. My rank didn’t matter in the civilian world and I had to start from the bottom. Long hours and low pay, was the norm for a few years. However, during this time I never lost sight of what I wanted and needed to accomplish. I decided to use this difficult time in my life as inspiration. The struggle I was enduring ended up being a blessing in disguise.

I had become fully aware of the career and life I didn’t want for myself and I needed a change I was working long hours but managed to take a Java coding class in the evening. This class would end up being the hardest class I’ve ever taken in my life. For at least four weeks I was completely lost. The class was full of student who had prior coding knowledge or worked at a job where they wrote code daily. Once again I was starting at the bottom but I was determined to learn and complete the course. About 25 students started the course, however when it finished a year later, myself and another student were the only ones left and presented our project. Once I finished my presentation, a counselor pulled me aside and ask if I had ever heard of Salesforce. I told her that I had never heard of Salesforce, and I didn’t want to sell anything to anybody and I needed a job working in tech.  She told me I would be perfect for the Merivis Foundation, which partners with VetForce.

Paying it forward. Sheldon speaking about his experience to fellow vets in Merivis cohort 4

Next the counselor put me in contact with Hector Perez and at the time I was skeptical about any opportunities that seemed too good to be true. I had spent the last few years working jobs that would promise things, only to end up being laid off later. I met Hector for coffee one afternoon and he told me about the Merivis and how their goal was to help veterans pursue careers within the Salesforce job market. He asked me if I would like to be a part of their next cohort. I was ecstatic! I knew this was the opportunity I had been looking for and it had finally arrived. The cohort classes were four weeks long with three weeks online and one week on site in Austin. I had started a new job the third week of class working nights. The onsite class started at eight in the morning. I left work at seven, leaving me with less than hour to sleep before class and was in a dilemma, but powered through. Once again hardships hand had to push me forward. I knew that if I could make it through the cohort, I would never have to work a low paying job again. I knew the cohort would teach me the skills I needed to compete in the workforce and it was all or nothing. So, for that last week of class I slept in my car for about 45 minutes, went to class and then went to work. I was extremely tired and wanted to give up. But knowing that I had a chance to secure my future financially, I felt sleep could wait. The training was great and I finished the cohort. I obtained my certification and I currently work as a Salesforce Consultant. We were fortunate to have Mandy Kelly be our instructor during the in classroom training, she did a great job helping us veterans just learning Salesforce.

There is a lot of short hours and high pay now. Don’t judge me, I deserve it! I owe all my success to the Merivis Foundation and everyone involved. I can honestly say that Merivis has changed my life by helping me secure the job I wanted. I will never forget everything Merivis has done for me and other Veterans like myself.

Thank You, Thank you, Thank you!

Sheldon Simmons

 

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