College graduates have fared best in the pandemic job market. But holding a bachelor’s degree in business economics and finance wasn’t enough to prevent Tony Nguyen from becoming homeless last year.
The 27-year-old graduate of St. Cloud State University had been working as a regional manager of a sandwich shop chain. After being laid off and subsequently moving into his cousin’s basement, Nguyen decided he wanted to break into tech. A friend of his sister’s told Nguyen he could be a good Salesforce administrator
. He googled the customer relations management software company and was interested. But Nguyen couldn’t afford tuition for college courses or other training options.
“Is there any way I could do this for free?” Nguyen remembers thinking.
Then he discovered Trailhead
, the free online learning platform from Salesforce. Trailhead offers more than 1,000 badges to help prepare people to work in jobs related to Salesforce and its huge network of partners—which could create an estimated 9.3M new jobs by 2026.
Traditional education systems have not been able to keep up with the technology and hiring demands in this space, says Kris Lande
, senior vice president of Salesforce’s Trailblazer ecosystem.
“For Salesforce, it’s not only about creating new technology and career opportunities for people—we also have to pave pathways to these new jobs,” Lande says.
More than 3.7M learners have used the self-paced online platform, earning 35M badges in Salesforce, business, partner, and other workforce skills. Trailhead has seen a significant spike in interest during the pandemic, with a 40 percent increase in student sign-ups and a 50 percent boost in learner engagement and badges earned.
“It’s the front door to the Salesforce economy, breaking down the barriers to learning while creating an accessible and equal pathway for anyone to succeed in the Salesforce ecosystem,” Lande says, “regardless of their background, ethnicity, gender, or education level.”
Nguyen has earned several Salesforce certifications. But the first one was the toughest. Despite studying six to eight hours a day on Trailhead, he failed the assessment.
The Trailblazer Community
and his mentors helped Nguyen stick with it, he says. The platform connects Trailhead students across 1,300 groups in 90 countries. Texts from his fellow students helped calm him down after the setback, Nguyen says—“It’s almost like a family.”
Three in five participants in the peer-based support groups say the community helped them get a new job or promotion, according to Lande.
Nguyen was no exception. Shortly after passing the certification, he was hired as a Salesforce administrator by Calabrio, a Minneapolis-based software company. He oversaw 550 users just three months into the job.
The Kicker: “You have to keep training,” Nguyen says. “The learning never stops.”