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Young people, particularly Black and Latinx individuals, faced the highest increases in unemployment due to the pandemic, making our commitment to untapped talent more important than ever. At Salesforce we define untapped talent as young people from underserved and underrepresented communities who may be unaware of or lack access to the career possibilities that exist for them. These individuals are full of potential, intelligence, and drive, and we must be deliberate about opening doors for them.
After high school, Chimezie Anosike didn’t have a clear path forward. He worked as a server at a sports stadium in London to support himself, scouring job boards on his off hours. Pursuing university wasn’t his preferred option because he wanted to gain meaningful work experience and start building his career right away.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and Anosike found himself unemployed and panicked about his future. He didn’t think any company would be recruiting new talent during a period of such labor market instability until he came across Multiverse, an apprenticeship provider for those seeking an alternative to university. Through Multiverse, Anosike applied and was accepted to become an apprentice at Salesforce. For the past eight months, he’s been a valuable member of the Salesforce Digital Marketing team.
“Since being at Salesforce I’ve grown to love tech, and that’s a testament to the innovation of the company, which has had a profound impact on me.”Chimezie Anosike, Digital Marketing Apprentice, Salesforce
“I never thought I would be able to get a job in tech,” said Anosike. “So when a major tech company like Salesforce comes knocking at your door, you don’t quite know how to react. Since being at Salesforce I’ve grown to love tech, and that’s a testament to the innovation of the company, which has had a profound impact on me.”
Young people like Anosike join our company through internship and apprenticeship programs that provide paid work experience and on-the-job training for untapped talent. In partnership with workforce development training providers such as Year Up and Multiverse, these programs enable young people to establish a strong professional foundation, develop specialized skills, build their networks, and grow their careers.
There are multiple pathways to success
Our commitment to untapped talent stems from a steadfast belief that talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not. Being able to get a job is often about who you know; 70-85% of jobs are found through networking. Young people from underserved backgrounds often have the needed skills but face a social capital gap, lacking access to connections in fields that they’re interested in. And many jobs require a degree even when it’s not necessary, creating barriers for people who have valuable skills and experience but did not pursue or complete higher education.
These gaps have only widened over the past year. In the U.S., young people under the age of 30, Black and Latinx individuals, and those without a college degree are among the most likely to have been impacted by higher unemployment rates during the COVID-19 recession.
We know there is not—and should not be—only one single path to economic prosperity. It is critical for both our communities and our companies that we create more pathways and access points to opportunity for untapped talent. Tapping into this pool of talented, ambitious individuals brings diversity to our teams, which has shown to improve business and financial performance.
Untapped talent is making an impact at Salesforce
Our untapped talent programs have grown tremendously since they launched 13 years ago with just three Year Up interns in our San Francisco headquarters. To date, nearly 1,000 interns and apprentices have been placed in our U.S., UK, and Ireland offices, across all teams in the company. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive: more than 80% of managers report that their intern has added value to their team and made a positive impact on the business.
Working with Anosike over the past few months, Jo Pettifer, VP of Marketing, Salesforce UK & Ireland, has been inspired by the impact he has made in such a short period of time. “Chimezie has brought a new dynamic, perspective, and energy to our team,” she said. “He’s actively owning and delivering projects. There is much that he’s contributed to, including proactively updating our internal resource center, creating copy for our strategic marketing events, and most recently he participated in a virtual event customer panel.”
“The value is not just an additional resource on our team, but during this time you get to see the growth of these apprentices who are motivated, have developed their skills, understand our business, live our values, and have the potential to go on and do even greater things.”Jo Pettifer, VP Marketing, Salesforce UK & Ireland
Managers like Pettifer are leveraging untapped talent programs as a way to develop promising new talent for their teams. Functions like Sales, Solution Engineering, and Cybersecurity are hiring cohorts of apprentices, and investing in their growth and training aligned to the specialized needs of the business.
“This is a long-term plan to build new talent for our business,” said Pettifer. “The value is not just an additional resource on our team, but during this time you get to see the growth of these apprentices who are motivated, have developed their skills, understand our business, live our values, and have the potential to go on and do even greater things.”
Supporting untapped talent through the pandemic
Despite the pandemic, demand for interns and apprentices has surged over the past year. Driven by a growing commitment to diversity and the desire to recruit talent outside of the usual talent pools, we’ve increased the number of interns and apprentices by nearly 50%.
The past year also brought new challenges. Like Anosike, Patricia Vaz never imagined she would join Salesforce during a global pandemic. In the Bay Area, Vaz was running her own home organizing business, working as a nanny, and juggling being a full-time mom. While looking for more steady employment, a friend who had participated in the Year Up program suggested she check it out.
After a few months of in-person training with Year Up, COVID-19 restrictions forced programming into an all-virtual environment. Vaz recalled, “I felt like I was drowning trying to be a parent, wife, and full-time student all at the same time.” With a strong support system of Year Up coaches and mentors, Vaz completed her training and was placed in a six-month internship on the Salesforce Technology Content team.
As Vaz and other interns onboarded to an all-virtual work environment, we expanded our support to ensure their success. This included providing home office equipment and other work from home supports, and assistance for those facing food insecurity. As the past year saw a racial justice reckoning, we launched new programming to help interns process racial trauma and navigate their identities as people of color in tech. And we are focused on growing our future diverse leaders through professional development workshops, career sponsorship and coaching, an executive speaker series, and one-on-one mentoring.
Finding success after the program
Through the support of her manager, mentor, and Year Up alums, Vaz thrived in her internship, delivering on critical projects including developing learning content for Trailhead, Salesforce’s free online learning platform, and copyediting more than 100 pages of content for internal company playbooks. Her valuable contributions earned her a full-time position as a Technical Writing Associate after completing her internship.
“Getting a job at Salesforce doing something that I love—writing—has been beyond my wildest dreams,” said Vaz. “I feel lucky to work at one of the top tech companies in the world, driving content that enables other Trailblazers. Landing this job has brought stability to my family, not just for now but also for the future.”
“I feel lucky to work at one of the top tech companies in the world, driving content that enables other Trailblazers.”Patricia Vaz, Technical Writing Associate, Salesforce
Our goal is to help interns and apprentices secure employment at the end of their program and to remain at Salesforce when possible. We’re proud that nearly 50% of Year Up interns in the U.S. and 75% of apprentices in the UK have been hired for full-time roles at Salesforce. Some have even gone on to be managers of interns themselves.
For those who don’t stay on at Salesforce, we help them leverage their experience to continue building their career. Our goal is for interns and apprentices to graduate with specialized skills, a strong network, and a positive reference from their manager—all of which helps them secure roles they previously may have been unable to access. Many have used their internship or apprenticeship to jumpstart successful careers in tech, nonprofit, and other sectors.
Investing in the next generation of talent
The future of work is changing, and it’s our obligation to support the next generation of leaders. By investing in untapped talent, we not only help high potential young people build their careers but also bring great talent into our companies. And the impact continues to have a ripple effect when they become role models for other young people who follow in their footsteps.
Anoskie shared, “One of my aspirations is to be a future mentor and offer support to others following a similar path, to help them on their own journey to success.” As we open the doors of opportunity for more young leaders like Anosike and Vaz, we will continue to build a more equitable and inclusive workforce.
See FAQ: How Salesforce Works to Close the Opportunity Gap for Young People to learn more about our workforce development strategy.