- In March 2020, Tony Nguyen became one of 114 million people who lost their jobs in the pandemic.
- He used e-learning to gain skills for the tech industry because he had no experience.
- Now he has a more flexible work schedule and is happier in his new role as administrator.
Tony Nguyen was about to build what he hoped would be the next big restaurant chain. Then the United States was hit by the coronavirus pandemic, he lost his job and his whole outlook changed.
Nguyen was a regional manager at a Vietnamese sandwich shop in Minneapolis where he had worked for five years. But in March 2020, Nguyen became one of 114 million people who lost their jobs in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic swirled around the world.
“I’m not going to say I wasn’t happy, but I could have been more in tune with myself, my environment and my family,” said Nguyen, 29. “I made a lot of sacrifices.
Nguyen’s friend told him about Salesforce’s free, self-paced e-learning platform, Trailhead, and how he could learn new skills for a tech-focused role. Now he works as a Salesforce administrator at Calabrio, an IT software company in Minneapolis that uses Salesforce software. While Nguyen declined to share his exact salary, a Salesforce spokesperson pointed to data showing administrators typically earn approximately $95,000 per year.
As the pandemic continues to shape America’s workforce, laid-off individuals and workers wrapped in the “Great Resignation” are turning to online learning to gain skills and secure better-paying jobs. More than 3.5 million learners have used Trailhead to improve their skills, said Kris Lande, senior vice president of marketing and community at Salesforce, which plans to create 9.3 million jobs in the Salesforce ecosystem by 2026.
Nguyen shared with Insider the steps he took to transition from working in the restaurant industry to a job in technology with no experience, and how he manages to combine his customer service skills with the technical skills he acquired online.
Make a name for yourself in a fast-evolving sector
The tech industry has always appealed to Nguyen, who said he loved playing video games growing up. “Being in front of the screen is pretty normal for me,” he said.
As regional manager, Nguyen said there were months when he worked non-stop. After being laid off, he knew he didn’t want to return to the restaurant industry.
“I knew with the tech industry it’s always growing and it’s a lot more flexible,” he said.
As of April 2020, Nguyen was unemployed and living in his cousin’s basement. That’s when he started looking for leadership positions in technology because he had more experience working with people. It wasn’t until his friend told him about Trailhead that Nguyen realized there was a place for him to learn skills and get a tech-focused job as a Salesforce admin.
According to Lande, Trailhead saw a 40% increase in enrollment and a 50% increase in learner engagement during the early stages of the pandemic.
“We definitely saw an influx of learners coming to Trailhead during COVID,” Lande said. “There are so many people who had this moment of thinking, ‘Do I want to keep doing what I’m doing right now? How can I change my career path? “”
On the Trailhead platform, Nguyen said he got hooked earning rewards and badges that he compared to prizes in video games. He spent more than six hours a day for months going through Trailhead modules, which taught him hard technical skills for being an admin and soft soft skills, like how to practice equality in any place. of work.
In November 2020, after about seven months on Trailhead, Nguyen received a job offer from one of his Trailblazer community mentors. Today, as an administrator, Nguyen helps companies automate their processes, create reports and dashboards, and train users on Salesforce.
“My daily life is very unique,” Nguyen said. “Dealing with a wide range of people has been really fun.”
A Career Change Worth Trying
Through Salesforce, Nguyen said he was able to find a supportive community that encouraged him to continue in a tech role. While on Trailhead, for example, he became a member of PepUp Technology, a nonprofit that helps underrepresented people land tech jobs. He was also connecting with other Salesforce administrators on LinkedIn and Twitter to ask for guidance throughout his training and job search.
One of the biggest differences in her new job is the freedom, Nguyen said.
When he was a restaurant manager, he had to be physically at work, sometimes up to seven days a week for months without a break, he said. In the tech industry, he can work anywhere and spend more time with his family.
In the end, he said, changing his life to find a career that made him happier was worth it.
“Anyone who’s thinking, ‘Hey, I want to change my career. I want to change my life,’ I’ll say, ‘Try it,'” Nguyen said. “It paid off for me. It’s scary, but go ahead and do it.”