Have you ever woken up one day feeling trapped in a career you used to love?
The stability of a steady paycheck no longer worth the daily dread of unfulfilling work?
Did you suddenly want a career change? I’m talking staring-at-the-ceiling-all-night type misery.
Alex Warneke from alexwarneke.com knows exactly how this feels.
She found herself creatively stifled and financially limited working as a marine ecologist and park ranger. While loving the subject matter, restrictions around income growth, adventure, and location independence nagged her.
She couldn’t shake the feeling that her current path just wouldn’t get her to the life she envisioned.
Despite no prior experience, Alex strategically skilled up and gained Salesforce credentials to increase her income potential dramatically.
Her story offers an inspirational template for others looking to pursue more career flexibility.
Tune in to Episode 590 of the Side Hustle Show to learn:
- How Alex was able to increase her earning potential by changing careers
- The process Alex took to learn Salesforce through the Talent Stacker program
- What a typical day in the life looks like working as a Salesforce administrator and consultant
- Common mistakes to avoid on your journey to career change and advancement
Want to learn if a Salesforce career switch is right for you? Take the free 5-Day Salesforce Challenge to find out!
- Monarch Money — Get an extended 30-day free trial of the top-rated personal finance app.
- Factor — Get 50% off America’s #1 ready-to-eat meal delivery service w/ code sidehustle50!
Making More Money with a Career Change
Alex was working as a marine ecologist and park ranger, but wanted more freedom and financial independence. She discovered Salesforce—a flexible software platform used by companies for customer relationship management—and saw it as an opportunity.
After going through the Talent Stacker training program and getting Salesforce certified, Alex started putting “Salesforce consultant” on her LinkedIn profile. She was soon flooded with inquiries from recruiters and hiring managers.
Without even applying, she landed a remote consulting role making around $60,000 annually.
As Alex gained experience, she continued moving up and now makes a high six-figure income working part-time hours. She still does some grant writing and science communication as side hustles on her terms.
The key was adding new skills to increase her earning potential.
Discovering Financial Independence
After 2.5 years of traveling North America and abroad for rock climbing adventures, Alex was excited to land a remote Salesforce consulting role. This first job came after completing 4 months of Salesforce training and getting certified while still abroad.
What originally inspired Alex’s career change was discovering the financial independence community in late 2019. After hearing podcasts like ChooseFI and reading blogs from Mr. Money Mustache, the concept of choosing freedom resonated with her.
Alex started with the end goal in mind: wanting location independence to travel and rock climb and worked at the same time.
She looked critically at her career prospects as a marine ecologist and realized she needed to skill up in something new.
Side Hustles to Salesforce
Even though Alex loved learning, she knew going back to school for another degree wasn’t aligned with her goals. She had already gotten a Master’s degree and didn’t want to incur more tuition costs and time invested.
Instead, Alex had been doing some side hustles like technical and grant writing that leveraged her science background.
Though profitable, these alone wouldn’t provide the income boost and freedom she was after.
Piggybacking Salesforce Demand
Alex used the “piggyback principle” to tap into Salesforce’s rapid growth. The software was selling so fast that certified talent couldn’t keep up. She strategically gained skills in this validated, high-demand field without needing to build something from scratch.
And that demand is clear as Alex notes, “people are landing jobs every single day.” The Salesforce platform is flexible enough to be customized for companies across all industries. So there is no slowdown in hiring demand in sight.
Salesforce 5-Day Challenge
Alex thoroughly validated the Salesforce career change before jumping in. She started with Salesforce’s free 5-day challenge to understand the landscape. Seeing the engaged Trailhead training community, rising demand, and defined certification path locked her in.
While still working her other job, Alex spent 4 months studying 10-12 hours per week to prepare for the Administrator exam. She credits the Trailhead resources and Talent Stacker’s “ohana” spirit and community for setting her up for success.
Testing the Waters First
Alex took what she calls an “MVP version” approach to their digital nomad life. She did a 3-month trial run traveling in Canada while newly Salesforce certified.
She completed Talent Stacker’s 60-requirement build project to demonstrate hands-on experience.
Alex even created her own nonprofit use case on the Salesforce platform. This allowed her to showcase domain expertise from her previous roles when interviewing.
Within months of announcing her skills online, the job offers rolled in without Alex needing to apply.
Overcoming Roadblocks on the Road to Success
Alex admits that migrating into the foreign realm of Salesforce initially intimidated her. Despite Trailhead’s abundance of free learning opportunities, she felt overwhelmed navigating next steps without guided direction.
Alex also found herself battling ingrained mindsets to “stay the course” in one lifelong career track rather than reinventing herself.
Thankfully, several pivotal mindset shifts empowered Alex to override paralyzing fears and impediments:
- Seek Community Support – Attempting to master Salesforce solo quickly proves frustrating. Structured programs, study groups, and coaches accelerate success.
- Start Small to Mitigate Risk – Alex tested interest and aptitude before fully submerging into intensive Salesforce certifications. Experimentation builds confidence.
- Growth Requires Discomfort – Leaving one’s comfort zone inevitably feels scary and unfamiliar. However, avoiding growth consequently stunts earning potential and fulfillment. Progress trumps perfection.
- Apply Existing Knowledge – Alex realized her scientific research background equipped her with easily adaptable abilities including analytical thinking, technical troubleshooting, solution orientation, and aptitude for continual learning.
- Ask for What You Want – Understand your worth and don’t fear requesting fair compensation. The squeaky wheel gets the grease!
A Day in Her Life
When working as a Salesforce consultant, Alex spent her days meeting with clients, configuring software for their needs, inputting data, and helping improve their business processes.
She enjoyed continuously learning about the new verticals she supported, whether construction, retail, healthcare, or more. Her background gave her insight into efficiencies for nonprofits specifically.
The Emotions of a Career Pivot
Even though Alex was progressing nicely with Salesforce, leaving marine ecology was extremely difficult after dedicating many years to doing what she loved. It meant decoupling her identity and what gave her purpose.
She had to confront deeper questions like “What do I actually want in life?”
Travel freedom with her husband won out. But a career is never binary.
Alex still takes on consulting projects related to marine ecology, grant writing, and science communication. She just no longer relies on it as her sole source of income.
The Next Adventure
After years traveling North America and abroad, Alex is excited to settle down in the Pacific Northwest for a bit. The area’s combination of mountains, public lands, and community makes the perfect long-term basecamp.
Growth Enables Freedom
You can follow Alex’s adventures moving forward at her website AlexWarneke.com. After years of nomadic living, she is excited to settle down for a bit in the Pacific Northwest.
Alex credits cultivating a “growth mindset” as instrumental to her success and freedom. That means continually pushing past fears and discomforts towards stretch goals.
Alex’s #1 Tip for Side Hustle Nation
“Start small; test it.”
1. Fit your work around your ideal lifestyle instead of your lifestyle around your work.
2. Identify in-demand, high-growth skills to “piggyback” on, rather than building from scratch.
- Talent Stacker training program
- Mr. Money Mustache
- Become a Salesforce Consultant: $225k a Year … Working Part-Time!, with Brad Rice
- How I Doubled My Salary During the Pandemic, with Anita Smith
- Piggyback principle
- Salesforce’s free 5-day challenge
- Talent Stacker
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