As part of its enduring commitment to veterans, CGI maintains a partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes Salesforce Fellowship Program. The program allows transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses to participate in a 12-week fellowship, where they are matched with participating host companies and receive sought-after Salesforce programming certifications.
Since becoming a corporate partner in 2019, CGI’s program has grown exponentially, starting with under a dozen candidates and reaching nearly 180 fellows across three cohorts in 2022.
Among them is Navy veteran Bradley Bazemore, who credits HOH with providing technical skills and easing the transition to civilian life overall.
“It's a complete life change with many challenges as well as rewards,” he says. “Military service touches every part of your life, in and out of the 9-5 workday, and it also provides any resource you may need to support that lifestyle. Civilian work requires a tremendous shift in one's life, mission and mindset.”
The same holds true for military spouses. Brandi Randle’s husband served in the Air Force.
“As a military brat turned military spouse, I am well-versed in constantly moving and reinventing myself,” she says. “Even with a master’s degree, I was finding myself leaving a job before I was able to develop skills or progress within a company. It is a challenge to find a role that is supportive and flexible enough for that lifestyle. After my 12-week fellowship ended, I was offered a full-time role, and have happily been part of the team ever since!”
Army veteran spouse Jyotshana Sharma also credits the program with augmenting her existing skills with hands-on experience.
“When I joined the program, I was a certified Salesforce admin but without any real-world working experience,” she says. “Through this fellowship, I have gained experience, am working as a consultant, and have been given the chance to work on projects.”
Xiaojing (Ariel) Zhang, whose husband served in the Army, agrees that HOH addresses the reality that building a career as a military spouse can be daunting.
“Deployment or duty schedules make the transition challenging, especially when military personnel are stationed in an isolated location where jobs are very limited for spouses,” she says. “The unique responsibilities and project work associated with the Salesforce fellowship helps participants develop the skills and experience required to work in a real job.”
HOH fellow Michael Lyons served in the Army and knows first-hand how challenging the transition to civilian life can be.
“I did have a hard time finding good work after my active status in 2006, but I would say that there is no better way to learn than on-the-job experience with other people that have learned great skills through their long careers,” he says. “This program is a lot like learning a language by immersion in a culture. If you understand the culture, then you can learn CGI’s way of doing things without the bad habits of other places that may not have the same level of excellence.”
Bradley agrees, noting that CGI’s culture has played a big role in changing his view of the transition to civilian life.
“I have learned that there are ample opportunities with CGI to work with talented, fun and supportive people who want to help me on my journey,” he says. “I have learned that there is a place for me in the civilian workforce and that I can succeed and have a fulfilling career.”
Read more CGI member stories in the Life at CGI blog series.