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Student success story: Dan Pieterse

by | Jun 1, 2021

How one Pathstream student built a Salesforce career that aligned with his needs as new dad during the pandemic.

Dan began his career in Cape Town, South Africa where he worked in a variety of government positions and at private game reserves using his education in environmental science. After meeting his wife on safari, he moved to the US and worked for a number of environmental organizations such as the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the National Wild Turkey Federation. He played a variety of roles at these organizations from research on endangered species to communications. What all these positions had in common was their reliance on Customer Relationship Management Systems or (CRM’s), which piqued Dan’s interest.

This interest was further ignited by a conversation with Dan’s neighbor. He was curious about what job allowed her to work flexibly and from her home and she introduced him to the world of Salesforce. With the help of his wife, who was also interested in Salesforce, Dan began to teach himself CRM using Trailhead, Salesforce’s internal learning platform. He realized that Salesforce was the solution to many of the problems he saw in the nonprofits and NGOs he worked for throughout his career. With COVID lockdowns setting in, Dan realized that the nonprofit and NGO industry that he had devoted his career to was likely going to take a major hit with the pandemic, and that he should equip himself with long-lasting technical skills.

“I knew that the industry that I’ve come to love and respect and work my way into over the years was coming to an end, but I still wanted to work with NGO’s and the people within them. Learning Salesforce felt like a bridge to do that.”

With a new baby on the way, Dan began searching for programs and found the Salesforce Administrator Career Certificate offered by the University of Vermont. Once starting the program, he immediately found value in the hands-on projects, which mirrored real-world situations and felt very applicable based on his past work experiences. The pace of the program, overall length, and cost also fit within his schedule and budget. As his newborn baby daughter slept in the other room, Dan worked through the certificate program, sometimes working on nights and weekends to complete the material. When asked what drove Dan to make such a life change, the answer is simple — family.

“I’m a new dad. The industry I spent my entire career in felt like it was collapsing during the pandemic. My only option was to dust myself off, get back up and find a new career. There was no other option.”

After earning his certificate, Dan passed the Salesforce Administrator Exam offered by Salesforce, and worked with Pathstream Career Services. After a lot of networking, applying and interviewing, Dan landed a Director-level position within a systems and operations practice at a well-known philanthropic organization. In this role, Dan helps clients from healthcare to universities to conservation organizations optimize a variety of CRM’s to meet their needs. By earning a certificate from UVM and Pathstream, Dan is now able to blend his passions for public sector institutions and CRM into one.

To learn more about Pathstream’s certificate programs or to see if one of our programs might be right for you, click here!

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