September 13, 2023

From Unemployment to $185,000/Year with Hannah Maruyama (DF#114)

From Unemployment to $185,000/Year with Hannah Maruyama

How Hannah Transformed Her Life & Career Without a Degree

We’re switching things up this week!

Hannah Maruyama, the co-host of the podcast is our guest in this first part of a 2 part series. Hannah shares her journey of upskilling and landing a $70,000 job 45 days after unexpectedly being laid off.

Learn how she quickly adapted and took proactive steps to secure a new job with a higher salary. Discover valuable insights on upskilling, job searching, and the importance of feeling in control of your circumstances.

What You’ll Learn:

- Hannah's background, financial literacy, and the speed at which she upskilled and found a new job
- Taking immediate action and not feeling like a victim after losing a job
- Using free resources like Trailhead and Reddit to learn Salesforce administration
- Obtaining Salesforce admin certification after 31 days of studying
- Securing a remote job without a college degree and negotiating a $70,000 salary
- The power of taking immediate action after job loss and exploring different industries
- Hannah's personal journey of upskilling and obtaining a certification to enhance her career prospects
- The importance of research, negotiation, and using valuable resources for job search success
- Insights into the negotiation phase of job interviews and practicing negotiation skills
- Hannah's decision to leave college and pursue alternative career paths

Don't miss next week’s episode where we continue Hannah's journey to becoming a business analyst, and now Head of Operations of an AI Startup.

Tune in to the Degree Free Podcast for more inspiring stories and valuable insights!

Enjoy the episode!

Desperate for an alternative to the college debt trap for your teen?

Overwhelmed by all the college alternative options?

Unlock the secrets that colleges don't want you to know about. In our FREE live event, we'll teach you how to bypass six-figure of debt, choose the path that makes sense for your child, and create an actionable plan for you to get there!

Register for our FREE live event now and Help Your Teenager Save $100,000, Stop Feeling Overwhelmed, and Start Getting Excited About Their Future.

Like, subscribe, write us a review, and if you have a question or want some advice email us at [email protected]

Join the Degree Free! Receive our weekly newsletter and get exclusive tips and tricks to get hired and make money without a degree!

Newsletter Sign Up - Email Only

Listen to the episode on: Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsSpotifyAmazon MusiciHeartRadio, or on your favorite podcast platform.


Want to learn how to become a FAANG engineer without a degree? Check out the previous episode!

Links and Notes from the Episode

About Our Guest:

Hannah Maruyama is an inspirational individual who embarked on a successful career without a college degree. After losing her job at a call center due to COVID-19, she took immediate action and upskilled herself by obtaining a Salesforce administration certification. With determination and the knowledge gained through free resources, she secured a job that paid her double her previous salary. Hannah's journey exemplifies the power of taking initiative, continuous learning, and seizing opportunities in the face of adversity.

Connect With Hannah:


  • 00:08:07 - Hannah loses her job at the call center
  • 00:06:41 - Ryan explains the reasoning behind Hannah not being on the podcast
  • 00:09:18 - Hannah's initial reaction to losing her job
  • 00:11:29 - Identifying job loss and taking immediate action
  • 00:15:26 - Importance of acting quickly after job loss
  • 00:18:42 - Choosing a skill based on salary and job market
  • 00:21:43 - Choosing resources to learn Salesforce
  • 00:23:51 - Why the certification was important
  • 00:24:29 - Duration of studying and getting hired
  • 00:31:22 - Advice on negotiating job offers
  • 00:31:48 - Hannah's job title as a Junior Salesforce developer
  • 00:36:37 - Hannah's decision to leave college
  • 00:00:00 - The decision to not go to college and what happens afterwards
  • 00:42:56 - Exploring alternative career paths without a college degree
  • 00:47:24 - Transitioning from a low-paying job to a higher-paying job

Connect with Ryan:

Resources & Links Mentioned:

Episode Transcript
Please enjoy this transcript or our episode!

Please note the transcript may have a few errors. We're human. It can be hard to catch all the errors from a full length conversation. Enjoy!

Hannah Maruyama [00:00:00]:

I just sat down at the sociology final with this professor that not a bright person, this professor, and sat there, and she's giving instructions for me to complete this midterm. And I sit down, and I have this midterm in front of me, and I just go, I don't need to be here. I don't wanna do this. I don't wanna be here. I picked up my midterm, and I ripped it in half, and I threw it in the trash, and I left. And I remember I went to the library, and I took a book out of the library, and I sat outside, and I just felt the best that I've ever felt. And then I left. I left. I'd and I never went back.

Ryan Maruyama [00:00:38]:

Hello, folks, and welcome back to degree free, where we teach you how to get hired without a college degree. I'm your host, Ryan Maruyama. Before we get into today's episode, if you would like to receive a short weekly email that has different degree free jobs, degree free companies and different degree free tips on how you can get hired without a college degree, go over to degreefree.coforward/newsletter to sign up for our free weekly newsletter. I am super excited for this week's episode because I have a very, very special guest. My guest this week is Hannah Maruyama Hannah is the co host of this podcast, and she is making an appearance after a very long time away and we go over why you haven't heard from her in this episode. Also, I'm really excited because This is something that we've never done before. I actually got this idea because I interviewed my grandfather. I did a podcast episode with him. It's more of a personal thing. It's not really degree free related at all, so I won't be releasing it or anything like that. But I did an episode with him. And I was like, wow. This was awesome. I got to connect with him on a different level. And I was like, wait. I don't think I've ever interviewed Hannah before. And because she is degree free and she is the other half to the show and to what we do here. I was like, you know what? She should come on and I should interview her. So this is the interview that I had with Hannah Maruyama, if you would like to connect with Hannah, you can do so on LinkedIn. I will put links to her LinkedIn and everything else that we talk about in the show notes, degreefree.coforward/ podcast. You can connect with Hannah on TikTok as well. She's at degree free. You can follow her and subscribe on YouTube as well. And I'll put links to all of that in the show notes. as usual. I am really excited for you to hear this episode. We go deep on the beginning of degree free. and her getting her $70,000 job right after she had gotten laid off at a call center making $28,000 year, we go into her college background and her breaking out of college. This interview got so long and we ran out of time to do it that I said, you know what? We're gonna stop right here, and this is gonna be part 1. and I hope you like part 1. Please let me know how you like it. I really enjoy doing this. You can let me know by commenting on our YouTube video. and please enjoy part one of my conversation with Hannah Mariama. Hannah, thank you so much for taking the time to be here today.

Hannah Maruyama [00:03:28]:

Ryan, I would not be anywhere else quite literally. So --

Ryan Maruyama [00:03:33]:

I'm glad that we could find time on our schedules to make this happen.

Hannah Maruyama [00:03:37]:

Yeah. My people talk to your people. Yes. Maybe we made it work.

Ryan Maruyama [00:03:41]:

No. But I am really excited to have you on today because It's been a hot second since you have been on this program, so it's nice to have you back. But, also, we recently did a trip to Hawaii to go back and see my family. And while I was there, I brought some of my podcasting equipment, and I interviewed my grandfather. and that's really the impetus for me sitting here interviewing you because I realized when I was interviewing him, one that I had never had that type of interaction with him before because the mics were there, and I wasn't his grandson for a little bit. I was a podcaster, and I was behind my mic in that role. and it was very comfortable to me. And so he and I interacted on a level that I never got to experience, but then also You are degree free. I'm not sure how much of your story we have told. I know in bits and pieces over the years, But we never sat down and did an interview session like this. So I'm really excited.

Hannah Maruyama [00:04:51]:

Yeah. I've never been interviewed about this story in this way. Actually, so I'm I'm pretty excited too. And I'm I'm excited to go after all of these. You've had some pretty, big name guests in recent weeks. All these, a Meng FANG company guys on, and now I'm I gotta follow those act. So if you haven't listened to those episodes, go back and listen to them.

Ryan Maruyama [00:05:10]:

Yeah. Definitely go back and listen to those episodes. They are really awesome, and we have a bunch of guests lined up. for the near future. So definitely subscribe. Do all of those things. But I guess I should say why you haven't been on the podcast in a while And it strictly has to do with the logistics and stylistic choice that we made for this podcast. When we were first starting this podcast, we first started to take guests. If you go back and look at the backlog for those people listening, you will see maybe, like, 80 episodes or so where it was just you and I in the studio doing it face to face. And then when we started to take guests, we had to come up with a stylistic choice of whether or not we were both gonna be there and interview this person. And so we thought about it, and we were like, stylistically, we're not sure how that's gonna work. with you and me being in the studio and then this person being over Zoom or if you and I have to go into separate studios ourselves. It didn't really make a lot of sense because you're mainly the person on TikTok and long form is my native form of content. It just really made sense that we kinda divvied up the work. So I got the responsibility and the pleasure of interviewing and being the interviewer on the podcast. That's not to say that you couldn't have done it. It was just a stylistic choice that we made at the very beginning.

Hannah Maruyama [00:06:41]:

Yeah. So that's our Ben folks. Been on TikTok. Right. Yeah. Yeah. Been on the clock app.

Ryan Maruyama [00:06:47]:

now that we have all the preamble out of the way, we could start at so many places. Right? I mean, look at what we've done with degree free. It's 2 years now. which is kinda crazy to think about 300 plus 1000 followers on TikTok. So many people reaching out to us every day, thanking us asking for help. I mean, it it is amazing, but I would love to start at the beginning of degree free. And for those of you that don't know Hannah's story, I'll sum it up really quickly here. And then maybe if you could fill in some of the things that I'm gloss over or that I'm missing. But at the beginning of COVID or the beginning of COVID for Hawaii and the beginning of COVID for you, you were working at a call center job where you were making $28,000 a year, and then you got laid off due to COVID. And then you eventually upskill, you got a certification, and then got a job that paid $70,000 a year. And it's really neat and tidy. when you say it like that. Right? I mean, it's so neat. And I can say it because I lived it with you for 1, but also we've said it so many times. I would love to go back to the very beginning of when you lost your job at that call center. What did that feel like?

Hannah Maruyama [00:08:07]:

Oh, man. Well, I remember that day specifically because it was Saint Patrick's day. It was March 17 2020. It was probably about 1 o'clock. I had just come back from lunch, and my boss came over and is such a bummer because I just talked our team into, 4 day work week at that specific sales team. It was a huge victory. And I believe that that week was the start of our 4 day rotation. And I was all stoked on it because that was my last of the 4 days. So I was about to have 3 days off. And my boss walks up to me, and she just said, hey. grab some stuff that you need and exit the building. And I remember just thinking, what? I was in the middle of talking to somebody on the phone. And she just came over really quietly and said it to me. And I grabbed a couple things, like, not knowing anything about anything because we didn't know what was going on at the time. And I grabbed my stuff, And I waited for the next bus, and I got in the bus, and I went home. It's about a 20 minute bus ride. And so I had the rest of the day off. And I remember all she told us was that we were gonna get paid for the rest of the day, and then they would tell us what was going on the next day. So that was that was that day.

Ryan Maruyama [00:09:18]:

So it sounds like from then, you didn't know that you lost your job.

Hannah Maruyama [00:09:22]:

I did not. I think it took them about 3 days to officially put our team. And by our team, I mean, our whole floor, actually, our whole floor of of people on -- paid furlough, which is what they called it. And I believe it was 2 weeks of paid. It was just paid time off, basically, that they gave us. And I remember when they said that, suspecting that that was the end of that. I remember just going, yep. This is over. And they were taking such a big hit, and I believed it was to pacify people for the fact that they were gonna lay people off. That was what I saw coming. And I just knew too that even if they did keep pieces of our team, my specific sales team was a loss leader. And the goal of it was to sell tours and activities in order to have people come further into the sales funnel in order to buy higher ticket items. And so they were actually losing money. I knew that they were losing money on our team because it was new. And I knew that if they brought anybody back, it would not be us. It would be the big moneymakers and not us at all. So I just knew we were gone. I knew we were gone.

Ryan Maruyama [00:10:30]:

When you say you knew, like, you just had a very sneaking suspicion of it. I mean, all of those factors, because very honestly, and I'm not playing dumb here on this one. We've never talked about this. I was there when this happened. And I remember that you said to me, I got furloughed and you use that language because that's what they said. but my job is not coming back. Like, I know that I am not getting hired back. One of the things that's crazy about your story is the speed in which you've accomplished it. Right? I mean, I'm skipping ahead a few days, but the speed of which you skilled up, you got a certification, then you got a new job. And that was all predicated on you taking action immediately, but prior to taking action, you needed to identify that your job wasn't coming back. I mean, How were you certain?

Hannah Maruyama [00:11:29]:

A lot of that, I think, is actually from you. So this goes back further into my past but I'm not very financially or business literate. That was not how I grew up. I never had any sort of education in that area. And when my parents did make decisions, they were not very educated either. And so there was not much for me to pull on as far as just understanding -- how money works, understanding how businesses work, understanding how sales works, any of that. And my only exposure to sales had been working. And I just put together from a lot that I learned from you, actually, about how businesses work, especially because at the time, we were running our own business, does play into the story later, but I think that that was what really helped me see. I could just see the writing on the wall. They were very careful. The company was very careful about how they phrased everything. it was the fact that I knew that we were running at a loss, that we were the newest team. And not only that, But I was the newest hire or the 2nd to newest hire on the team. I found out later that I was actually the top producer on this team because I was focusing on selling larger baskets of items as opposed to just taking volume calls, which is what they wanted us to do, and that they were going to put me on the money making team within the next month. But, like, None of that happened, obviously. So I just knew I was like, okay. I was a second to last hire. I didn't know anybody's sales number, so I didn't know that I was doing well. And I knew that if they cut anybody, if there's one team that they were gonna cut from this floor of people, it was gonna be us. And so I just wrote it off and I was like, okay. Well, I have to find another job because our business was still really young at the time. A lot of entrepreneurs and founders know at the beginning if you're bootstrapping and you are paying the bills for your business at the beginning, which a lot of people do, then you have to make money in order to pay -- for your business to make money. And that's where we were. So I had to find something else to do, and I had to do it quick because I knew that there was At the time, I was like, okay. Well, I have 2 weeks of paid time. Learn a decent amount in 2 weeks, but then there were also whispers that there was gonna be some sort of, because this is during COVID, there was whispers that there was gonna be unemployment for people that didn't come back. And interestingly, This was the only time. And I don't mind owning up to this because the lockdowns put us out of work, but this was the only time I've ever pulled on employment in my life. I've been unemployed before, but I've never pulled it in my life, except for this time. So that was how I just looked at the situation. I did the math. I was like, hey. We're a cost center, we're a new team on the 2nd to newest hire. If they hire anybody back, it's not gonna be me. My job is gone. So I have to find something new fast.

Ryan Maruyama [00:14:09]:

That's awesome. Thanks for explaining that. The reason why I bring all of that up is I think it's super important for people that go through layoffs. to have that mindset and go through that reasoning, go through the step by step process that you did, and at least have an opinion on whether or not it's going to be really bad or whether or not it's just bad. I mean, the fact of the matter is that you got furloughed. So it's already bad. but is it gonna get worse? And then from there, making a plan and then acting on it. And then sometimes you don't even make a plan. Right? You just start acting. I mean, hopefully, you have some sort of plan, but then action too is gonna get you out of that. In start comparison, We know a couple of people that worked with you there that still don't have a job to this day 3 years later.

Hannah Maruyama [00:15:00]:

Yeah. And a lot of people, it took at least 6 months for them to find work again, and the unemployment money ran out before they did. I do think it was just a perfect storm of the business. queuing me in.

Ryan Maruyama [00:15:10]:

Yeah. And this experience is one of the reasons why I hold my opinions on becoming abruptly unemployed or abruptly losing your job. My opinion is that you need to start moving now.

Hannah Maruyama [00:15:24]:

I think a timer starts.

Ryan Maruyama [00:15:26]:

Yeah. And we've talked about this before on a previous episode. I'll link it in the show notes. But when you lose your job abruptly, a lot of people will say, oh, well, there's no rush. Figure out a plan. Take a little time. and then execute your plan. I wholly disagree with that. And I think that the sooner that you start acting, the better. If you don't wanna work in that industry anymore, skilling up, or putting your resumes into another industry, getting resumes out to different jobs in that same industry, whatever it is, but start taking action to get out of the situation that you're in. If nothing else, then to, you know, get that mental win of actually doing it because you just lost your job abruptly, which, like I said, that's already bad.

Hannah Maruyama [00:16:20]:

I think it's it also puts you back in an element of control. over your situation. So you don't feel like it happened to you so much as you are happening to the situation because I think that that might have been why. because I know that quite a few people that I worked with felt like they were the victims of a situation. And the only reason I didn't about work specifically was because I immediately was like, okay. Well, I gotta figure something else out. And so I felt like I was steering the ship as opposed to getting run over by a steamroller.

Ryan Maruyama [00:16:49]:

The last thing that I wanted to point out before we move on, and I know that we're spending a lot of time on this was you said you rode the bus home on that day. And I remember you riding the bus. One of the reasons why you rode the bus was because we couldn't afford or didn't wanna pay for parking the car, the second car, and the second car that we had, wasn't very reliable either or comfortable. I didn't have any AC. For a lot of people that live in cities, that have good public transportation, taking public transportation isn't that big of a deal. Plenty of people do it. Like, when we lived in New York, -- plenty of people used a public transportation there from all income levels. And in Hawaii, it's very different. Most of the people riding the bus ride the bus because they have to. And so we were in that category.

Hannah Maruyama [00:17:47]:

Yeah. We just found the other day one of your backpacks, and it had the bus pass on it. And it said March 2020. And I was like, woah. This is the last one I bought. That's crazy.

Ryan Maruyama [00:17:56]:

I only bring that up. to say, although you weren't making a lot of money, you were making $28,000 a year, which is not that much money. We needed that money.

Hannah Maruyama [00:18:08]:

Yeah. We did.

Ryan Maruyama [00:18:09]:

Right. We needed that money. It wasn't like you losing your job wasn't a big deal to us. It was a massive deal. And so it was good that you got furlough pay for a couple of weeks, but after that, we didn't know where your next paycheck was coming from.

Hannah Maruyama [00:18:27]:

Yeah. No clue.

Ryan Maruyama [00:18:29]:

Yeah. And so I just wanted to add that little bit of color there. Fast forward us a few days, you decided to learn a skill. What skill was that, and why did you choose that skill?

Hannah Maruyama [00:18:42]:

So for me, This was very much shooting in the dark. And now we call this method finding a job backwards. But essentially, what I did was I went and I looked for jobs that made over a certain amount of money a year. And I now firmly believe this is how everybody should job seek. You and I sat down, actually, at an Excel spreadsheet, and we were like, okay. What amount of money would make me working Awesome. That would just help us out so much, cover these specific bills, and make it all worth it. And I took that number and I went online and I looked for jobs that would pay that amount or more. And then from there, I looked at each job that would pay that amount or more, and I looked at what skill sets were valuable within those job applications. And from there, I looked to see which skills, which skill sets were re occurring across those types of jobs. And then I looked those skills up on Reddit. to see if they were actually real and then to see how I would go about getting them. And that is how I ended up getting my Salesforce administrator so -- vacation. That is how I picked that. From the research that I did, it was the most consistent amount of money that was what I was looking for. I could also see that there were enough jobs where we lived. There weren't a lot, but there were enough. And I also figured that It was a good shot for the time zone that we were in that I get some tech skill, and it also seemed like the most achievable because it didn't require me to learn how to code. which I believe would have taken quite a bit longer.

Ryan Maruyama [00:20:17]:

Yeah. Definitely. I want to chime in about that last portion there about learning to code. Yeah. Learning to code for you.

Hannah Maruyama [00:20:28]:

That would have taken me a long time. Then --

Ryan Maruyama [00:20:30]:

Would have taken you a long time. Probably still would take you a long time now, but not as long. Right. And so the reason why I bring that up, and I'm not busting up about it, the reason why I bring that up is because I know your level of technical skill, especially at this point. At this point, when you are doing all of this in the story,

Hannah Maruyama [00:20:52]:

When the wifi went out, I came and found you. I cannot exaggerate folks. I cannot exaggerate the level of, I would call it allergic to technology. That is what I would say. That was a phrase that would come out of my mouth.

Ryan Maruyama [00:21:03]:

Right. And so it's not like you were starting with a lot of technology experience or database systems administration experience.

Hannah Maruyama [00:21:16]:

Less than 0.

Ryan Maruyama [00:21:18]:

Yes. You were coming at this with very, very little knowledge of that role and of Salesforce in general. Right?

Hannah Maruyama [00:21:26]:

Yeah. We had used it. Of the team that I got furloughed from had gotten it about a month before, which is nothing, essentially. because usually a sales team will use one page. I had had experience one page kind of. That was it.

Ryan Maruyama [00:21:37]:

How did you choose the resources that you chose to get certified and learn that skill?

Hannah Maruyama [00:21:43]:

One of the biggest factors other than time was the money. And I remember because I remember building the case to you to spend the money for me to learn these skills. And so I was looking for something too that didn't cost an arm and a leg because we did not have an arm more leg. And so I remember looking Salesforce has one of the best free training programs. There's an abundant amount of material that you can use to teach yourself both from sales force and then also from other content creators that teach Salesforce, but Salesforce itself has Trailhead, which will allow you to teach yourself Salesforce at your own pace. and work in these things called Sandboxes, which are essentially play environments. They're fake Salesforce environments where you can learn how the tool actually works. And so I looked at that and I said, okay. I can do that. And then Reddit told me that the best course on it was actually on Udemy to kinda condense the information, tell you what the vocabulary is, which is half more than half the battle is knowing what the words mean. because if you don't know what the words mean, you can't figure out anything out. But if you know what the words mean, you can figure pretty much anything out. And so I took this Udemy course, and I think at the time, I wanna I wanna say it costs 17 or $18 somewhere in there and Trail, it's free. And then I remember I got stuck at a couple points So I went back to Reddit to find what the 2nd best resource that was the 2nd least expensive. And it was $50. And it was this really condensed course called certified on demand, which was essentially a study platform and then a vocabulary word bank that would help you figure with the words meant. Again, a reoccurring theme. And then I used free quizlet stuff to quiz myself on the vocabulary words because a lot of it, like I said, is just knowing what the words meet and then how they connect and how they build frameworks. And so that is how I studied. And I think my total cost I've tallied it a few times is $362 is how much it cost me to do. But I used Reddit to cross reference what people were using to get the fastest result for the least amount of money.

Ryan Maruyama [00:23:44]:

Why did you go with the certification and not just use Trailhead to gain some experience and then start applying to jobs?

Hannah Maruyama [00:23:51]:

That was another -- Reddit thing. And Reddit said that there are a lot of jobs where they require somebody to be certified. And so Well, that's absolutely true. And there are a lot of experienced Salesforce admins that just certified via experience. They're not certified by Salesforce. a lot of companies. And especially if there's any contracting or consulting companies, it'll be built into the contracts that they require somebody who has a valid Salesforce certification. And so I thought I could leverage that too and ended up being the correct bet.

Ryan Maruyama [00:24:20]:

So how long did it take you exactly or roughly if you don't remember exact to get the Salesforce admin certification?

Hannah Maruyama [00:24:29]:

It took me exactly 31 days from the time I decided to start studying. I studied about 5 a half hours a day. You probably remember that. And then I remember the day I took the exam because I scheduled it late on accident as opposed to earlier in the day, but you can't fix it unless you do it within a certain amount of time. So I left it. And so I scheduled this exam for late, and you and a friend of ours were home, and you guys were out in the front yard And I was taking the exam, and I remember coming out and telling you that I passed. And it was 31 days after I started studying, which was crazy, but you saw how many flashcards it did for how long. So --

Ryan Maruyama [00:25:10]:

Yeah. No. It was crazy. You had a lot of flashcards, like, a lot a lot of flashcards, and I was amazed as well. It looked like you gave it your all. I mean, I know that you gave it your all. but no joke. You did study for, like, 6 hours a day. Look, it helped with the fact that you were unemployed.

Hannah Maruyama [00:25:31]:

Yeah. That's something I can't discount, and I do take that into account when people are trying to find their own tech skill to learn. I say it's probably gonna take you longer unless unemployed, in which case, you should treat this like your full time job. Go nowhere. Do nothing, but this. But, yeah, for people with small children or people gonna take them a little bit longer to learn a skill because they're gonna have to split up their time. Probably it's difficult to get that many hours in a day together at one time.

Ryan Maruyama [00:25:54]:

Yeah. But for 31 days, we didn't do anything. I remember that.

Hannah Maruyama [00:25:57]:

Yeah. That's true. There was a lot of solidarity. You didn't go anywhere or do anything. You just hung out with me.

Ryan Maruyama [00:26:02]:

Yeah. So you got your Salesforce admin certification. And then what did you start doing? You just started applying to jobs now?

Hannah Maruyama [00:26:09]:

Yeah. So I had looked at jobs before I started studying because that's how I decided what to study. And then once I picked Salesforce, I put that on the back burner. And then as soon as I passed my exam, I started applying for jobs. and I applied for a lot of jobs. I applied for jobs on the mainland. I applied for jobs in Hawaii, but it was crazy because as soon as I applied to this specific job that I ended up getting, I think they called me back the next day. And I applied in the evening, so it was not even full 24 hours before they called me back, which is Insane. And you and I were both floored because that was really surprising.

Ryan Maruyama [00:26:42]:

And then when did you get hired with this company. How much longer after that after he applied, they called you back.

Hannah Maruyama [00:26:49]:

Yeah. I think it was about 2 weeks before I had an offer in hand. And so the total time. I do remember that the total time for me not having studied Salesforce at all to being employed as a junior developer for this company was 45 days, which is mind blowing.

Ryan Maruyama [00:27:07]:

And how much money did you make in that first job?

Hannah Maruyama [00:27:10]:

So the pay, I remember this because I actually negotiated, which was crazy because at the time, I should have just taken whatever they gave me because of the position that we were in, but I had done my research on what I thought I could get paid. And then what's funny about this too is I remember you had a friend that we asked what the market value was to ask for. And I told her, hey. You know, what do you think about asking for this much? She goes, I don't know. I think that's I wouldn't do that. And I was like, okay. But I was pretty sure that I was right due to the just sheer amount of research that I did, and I did a lot. And so when it came down to it, I asked really high and they talked me down. I let them talk me down a little bit. But then I stayed above the floor that you and I had decided before was if it's lower than this, I can't take it. And then I remember what I did to tip them in my favor was I said I can take this lower amount if you give me a 4 day work week. and they did. And it was a remote 4 day work week job for 70 k, which you and I both were just It blew our minds. We cannot believe that that just happened. We just can't believe it. But what really this story is a testament to is the power of doing your research on a market before you get into it. And that's always true about anything, but especially about skills and work. If you pick the right job, the right skill set at the right time, you can kinda write your ticket.

Ryan Maruyama [00:28:39]:

Yeah. Definitely a testament to that, but I also think it's a testament to Just doing the things too. We can't understate that as well because looking at the job descriptions, all of the job descriptions that you are applying all said college degree required. The job that you got hired for said college degree required on there, and you still got hired without A college degree.

Hannah Maruyama [00:29:04]:

It actually said computer science degree required. It's funny. I posted that on TikTok a while back, and it was because people were just saying, oh, no. It didn't. It didn't require college agreement. Here's the offer letter right here. It says it requires a computer science degree. I'm degree free. I don't have one. And so it was the craziest thing.

Ryan Maruyama [00:29:21]:

So the second thing is that, like, with negotiating, you said, oh, well, I shouldn't negotiate, but then you did. Right? Like, don't sell out of your own pocket. And and that's where a lot of our teachings and a lot of what we talk about is -- grounded in, right, is grounded in you doing these things because, yeah, maybe you shouldn't have negotiated. I remember the conversation that we had with my friend vividly because we were like, okay. This person knows because they're in recruiting and they understand the industry and they understand prices. And so whatever it is that we were gonna go in there asking for. And I say we because you and I do everything.

Hannah Maruyama [00:30:02]:

It was a joint effort.

Ryan Maruyama [00:30:03]:

Yeah. You and I do everything as a team. I remember being like, whatever it was. $80,000 that you were gonna go in and ask for, and they were floored. They were floored. They were like, I don't know. I mean, maybe you should ask for, like, 60. Maybe they're starting price. wasn't even the price that you ended up at.

Hannah Maruyama [00:30:21]:

No. I asked for 95.

Ryan Maruyama [00:30:23]:

Yeah. And so that is just the power of negotiating, and that's why we always say for everybody if it's your first first job, just negotiate. If for nothing else, then to just get the practice in. If you are locked in and you are at the negotiation phase of the interview, They've already decided for the vast majority. That is how this works. Right? There's the job applying, then there's interviewing, and then there's the negotiation. when you're at the negotiation phase, you are pretty much it. They are just hammering out terms now. if you ask for this number and they say, no. How about this number? Okay. That's it. You can decide whether or not you want it or not at that time. And then you give them another number or not, whatever you counter at that point, but just asking At least one time, you never know what will happen. You never know.

Hannah Maruyama [00:31:22]:

I just gave that advice to somebody I was talking to as well. He's a really in demand skill set too. -- data architect. And he said, you know, what what happens if you ask too high when when you once you get the offer? And I was like, the point that you get the offer really rare that those fall apart at that point because they're they're really just talking to you, probably. Even in a in an employer market, they're still Probably just talking to you. So you shouldn't be afraid to ask, and that was a lesson I learned. And it's one I still learned because it's difficult to remember.

Ryan Maruyama [00:31:48]:

Yeah. Perfect. So now you are in the Salesforce admin job. What is it's what is the title?

Hannah Maruyama [00:31:54]:

So the title of the job that I got was Junior Salesforce developer.

Ryan Maruyama [00:31:58]:

So you got a junior Salesforce developer, which for those that do not know Salesforce admin, is actually below developer. I mean, and I'm using below in quotes here because admins can get paid more than developers and whatever. But I'm just talking about the progression of the Salesforce certifications The admin is, like, usually the first one you get, and then you get the developer on top of that. Some people go straight for the developer. but the Salesforce admin is usually lower. And I'm using quotes there.

Hannah Maruyama [00:32:33]:

Yeah. On the job description, it did say it required a Salesforce admin certification or higher. which was my rationale for applying to that job. I thought I had a pretty good shot.

Ryan Maruyama [00:32:43]:

I would love to switch gears here before we talk about how we ended up here. I'd love to switch gears and go back to the very beginning or at least the beginning of you being degree free. Maybe not degree free starting because as we can see now for long time listeners. And even for those people who are listening for the first time, we teach all of these things when we teach people how to change jobs, and this is the start of it. If you would like a free course on getting hired and changing jobs, you can go to degree free dot co forward slash get hired to sign up for our 7 day get hire challenge there. But this is the impetus of a lot of what we teach and what we talk about all the time. Okay. So we have the base here I will pick up this story again a little bit later, but I did wanna go back to the beginning, like I said, of you being degree free. You do not have a college degree. You have some college, quote, unquote, I hate that designation. on, you know, like, forms and whatever. I just did it to round myself up.

Hannah Maruyama [00:33:54]:

Well, no. Because they do it, and then they rope those people too. They They break them out. Why? Why did they break them out? Because it's inconvenient that they belong to the degree free set as opposed to the college set. They're not explained and they're not they don't belong. Anyway, I I I agree with you. It's irritating. So

Ryan Maruyama [00:34:13]:

how did you break out of college? What did that look like?

Hannah Maruyama [00:34:16]:

So I remember being extremely bored in an art class, which is really unfortunate because at the time, I painted quite a lot, and I did sell some paintings later in life not very good. Just good enough to sell. And I was really bored in this art class. I'm going, why am I here? I was working a lot. because I was fully dual enrolled in school. So that means that in the state that I was living in, they allow you to fully enroll at the local college, university, And the school that enrolled, it gets paid for you being there, even though you're not there. Anyway, so I was full time at this college campus, and I was bored out of my mind. Didn't like it. Didn't really understand why I was going or why I was paying to be there. I think there was probably about 3 months before I just sat down at the sociology final with this professor that not a bright person, this professor, and sat there, and she's giving instructions for me to complete this midterm. And I sit down, and I have this midterm in front of me, and I just go, I don't need to be here. I don't wanna do this. I don't wanna be here. I picked up my midterm, and I ripped it in half, and I threw it in the trash, and And I remember I went to the library, and I took a book out of the library, and I sat outside. And I just felt the best that I've ever felt. And Then I left. I left. I'd and I never went back.

Ryan Maruyama [00:35:33]:

Hey there. I hope that you're loving this episode of the degree free podcast. We spend a ton of time every week creating this content for you. So my only ask is you take a quick second to leave a review or thumbs up on whatever platform you're on. It's one of the best and easiest ways that you can support this podcast. And this simple action can help bring more people into the degree free community. At degree free, we wanna help as many people as we can thrive and succeed with out needing a college degree. Your review will be a step in that direction. If you could do this small favor right now, pause this and leave a review, it would truly mean the world to us. Thank you. and back to the show. What was it that made you rip up that paper and then leave? Was it that you didn't see the value in the degree, was it that you didn't wanna put the work in to get the degree? Was it just that sociology class that you were like, this doesn't make sense that I'm learning this. This isn't what I want to study. I don't need to know this information. What am I doing here? What is going through your head before you rip that piece of paper?

Hannah Maruyama [00:36:37]:

So I had been in school. I had been in college full time for about a year at that point. And 3 separate things had happened that I think just culminated in this. The first was I had an economics professor who I did not get along with. because she assigned us op ed homework, which is to write an opinion piece, essentially. And I wrote an opinion piece, and then she graded it poorly because she didn't agree with my opinion. Not because my facts weren't correct, just because she didn't agree with my opinion. And when I questioned her on it, she continued to give me poor grades, and that really rubbed me the wrong way. And then the second was I had a college algebra professor who was a grad student and could not teach math to save his life. And I will say, aside from studying for Salesforce, this is the hardest I ever studied and tried to pass math class, but I could not pass his class. And when I tried to get his help, he just couldn't teach math. Like, he's a math professor, but he couldn't teach math at all. And so I'm like, okay. Really unhelpful despite going to the lab. Just literally, I tried everything. And then the 3rd was this sociology professor who was just I couldn't believe she was teaching people. She was just not a bright person. She was just not you shouldn't be a teacher. And that was just the last round. Like, I can't believe I'm paying these people to do this when I could be doing literally anything else. I could just be working because I didn't have a reason to be there. And I think that that was just like, I was just bored. I was frustrated. The one good thing that did come out of that was the op ed that that economics professor -- wouldn't publish. I actually took to the school paper, and they did publish it. And so they actually ended up publishing my biweekly column. They did pay me. And I was one of the youngest writers ever, right, for that university paper. That was the only good thing that came out of it, but I was just like, I don't need to be And I don't wanna be here, and I'm angry that I felt like I had to be here. And so I just tearing up the paper made me feel like I was freeing myself of the I have to be here and I have to be doing this because I I didn't. And my track record, I think, says that I didn't have to do it at all. And I and I didn't

Ryan Maruyama [00:38:34]:

Did you have a plan as far as what you would do for work to pay the bills?

Hannah Maruyama [00:38:40]:

I was already working full time at the time, and so I just picked up more hours. So I ended up working quite a lot. Actually, I was working, like, 60, 70 hours a week.

Ryan Maruyama [00:38:50]:

What? What are you doing?

Hannah Maruyama [00:38:51]:

I was working at an Irish bar in Savannah, Georgia on River Street. I did work there in on and off for years, and then actually later on, when we moved back to Savannah, years later, you and I worked there together.

Ryan Maruyama [00:39:03]:

I just wanted to talk about that because the decision to not go to college or the decision to break out or disenroll is a big one, and it's something that a lot of people deal with all the time. I know for myself, I had that same thought. I don't know what to do. Right? Like, I was thinking, like, okay. I am 2 years into college. for me, it was 2 years in. And I was like, I am failing all of my classes. What am I doing here? But for me, it ended up turning out different, right, where I said, okay. I'm gonna give myself one more semester. And if I don't turn my grades around, then I am just gonna drop out. Right? At at that time, that's the language that I use dropping out. We don't really say drop out here anymore. but that's what the mentality that I had then. I was just like, okay. And then I'm just going to as a bartender at the time. You're making good money. Exactly. I was making good money. And was like, okay. Well, I'm just going to not go to college anymore and pick up more shifts exactly what you said. I ended up turning it around. I also wonder in a different life, in a different universe, or whatever, what it would have looked like if I didn't turning around. I ended up getting, like, straight a's and a b maybe or something like that, which was a quite a marked improvement from going from failing every class. and getting, like, one d. Right? So instead of getting f's in a d, it was a's in a b. But I was wondering what it would have looked like had I Slacked off some more, would I have come out ahead and I would have saved another 2 years of my life? Right. Save 2 years of my life and 2 years of money for paying for that degree because I never employed that degree as I state all the time on this show. And I know for people that are thinking about not going to college if you're in high school right now or you are listening to this and you have a child that's in high school junior, senior, even freshmen or sophomore, you're thinking about these things. And you're like, okay. Well, what do I do or what does my child do if not go to college and not go and do those things. So hearing your story is very helpful because what a lot of people miss is what happens after afterwards. Right? So you make the decision to not go, but then what happens to my child after? What happens to me after I decide to disenroll after I decide to break out.

Hannah Maruyama [00:41:46]:

And I do wanna say a couple things too. 1, I was paying for my schooling because I was working. And so that's something that a lot of people, I think, discount too. Like, so not only was I paying for my school, but I also moved out of my parents' house when I was eighteen, And so I was paying rent, paying my bills, and I was also paying for school, which I think contributed to why I was like, why am I here? What am I like, what am I doing here? And not only that, but I wasn't actually a bad student, aside from math. I was actually really I had, I think, almost -- all of the English credits. And then because I had clipped out of a bunch of them, and then I had tested in. Yeah. For me, it just didn't make sense to continue to pay when I didn't see a future in it. And then immediately after, like I said, I picked up more shifts, but then I also was like, okay. What's kinda interesting to me? And so I actually ended up getting a job working as -- tour guide on a dolphin boat too, which was pretty cool. Like, I don't regret that at all. That was a really cool job. And there was a path there too because I had a friend who was working on a dolphin boat with me who -- trying to train to be a captain on those dolphin boats because you can do that without buying a college degree. And that was a really cool career path too that often gets overlooked, but that was a super interesting option that I could have pursued if I wanted to.

Ryan Maruyama [00:42:56]:

Yeah. To bring up, you know, different pursuits and things one of the things from having hundreds of conversations about not going to college with people that are thinking about this for themselves and also families that are thinking about this for their children. One of the things that we have recognized is the problem is just not knowing what jobs are out there. And I say it all the time on this podcast, but if you do not have a goal, then you cannot find a path to get there. You can't define a path to get there if you don't know where you're going. And so one of the things that we've created was vocational creativity to help with that. It's an exercise that you can do pretty much every day It's really good for yourself. If you have no idea what you wanna do and you're thinking about going into a different industry or a different job, the exercises and vocational creativity really, really help. And then also if you have kids that you're trying to be like, hey. You can do this for a job, and you can do this for a job. doing the exercises with them really help as well. And I'll put resources to some of the things that we talk about in the show notes degree free dotco forward slash podcast so you can look up the vocational creativity resources there. And then also I did wanna mention that there are the 5 degree free pathways as well that we talk about all the time. If you wanna learn about the 5 degree free pathways, you can go to degree free CO forward slash pathways. And you can sign up for a free course on the different options that you have other than going to college. and I'm not gonna go over it all right now because you can go to all of these different resources that are available to you. So I'm gonna fast forward for everybody I wanted to get to why did you settle for a $28,000 job? at a call center. What were you doing before that? What would make you take that job?

Hannah Maruyama [00:44:53]:

So what I was doing before that was also working to make sees part time. Very glamorous, everybody. I was working in the cosmetics sales counter at Macy's. And actually after doing that, I remember coming home -- and telling you that we should short Macy's stock because there was no way that that company was gonna make it. And I think right now, if we'd done that, our bet would have paid So I was working at Macy's part time. And the reason I was doing that was again, transparently, it was because our business was really young, and businesses that are really young need money. And I wanted to have enough time to still run our business full time, which is what I was doing, and we needed money still. And so that's why I was working there. Also, because at the time our business was somewhat cosmetics focused. And so part of the reason I did start working there was to understand how they sold high ticket cosmetic products because at the time, we were exploring launching a skincare line for our tattoo studio. And so that was part of it, but it was also to learn about the sales of it all as well. And so, yeah, I was working at Macy's, and then this friend said that other job had opened up. At the beginning of this interview, I referenced that there was potential to move me to that really high earning team. And this friend had mentioned That if I started on this team, I might be able to get to that other high earning team. And that team was making really good money doing really high level sales. And so that was where I was gonna try to go. because I knew that I could learn it. And so that that was the reason I accepted the $28,000 year call center job.

Ryan Maruyama [00:46:21]:

At Macy's about how much were you making?

Hannah Maruyama [00:46:24]:

Oh, shoot. Macy's. Uh-huh. I'll be somewhere between 12:14 bucks an hour. It was really not good. I remember too, those shifts. Yeah. Crazy. a lot of props to people that do work those shifts, though, because you're on your feet the entire time. It's it's quite a bit of walking. And I remember You get, like, a 30 minute I think a 30 minute or an hour lunch break, I can't recall. And I do remember those days being so long, so I was working in the studio, and then I would go to Macy's, and I would work my shift. And then I would go and I would take a nap in our van at the at Alameda Mall because that's where the Macy's is in Hawaii. And then I would go back to work, and then I would go home, and then I would go back to the studio. If we had a client, the long days that we were working too, because you were you were working on the on the studio stuff too. So it was long days. You and I were working those back then.

Ryan Maruyama [00:47:08]:

Yeah. Absolutely. And I wanted to talk about that because that wasn't that long ago. That was 2019 when you were working at Macy's, 2020 when you were making $28,000 a year. I wanted to bring that up because $28,000 a year was a real step up. from where you were in Macy's.

Hannah Maruyama [00:47:32]:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I was super grateful for that job.

Ryan Maruyama [00:47:34]:

And it sounds ridiculous now when you think about it, I mean, that's how fast it can happen. And I've talked to a lot of people that have very, very similar stories. a lot of them all around COVID. Something happened. COVID happened. And then something happened to them. Like, COVID was the impetus for something in their life, like they lost their job, or school went remote, or this that or the other, and they realized, okay. I need to do something. And 3 years later, their lives are completely changed. 3 years later, I'm interviewing them on a podcast about how they did it. When 3 years ago, they were just worried about paying their bills. They were worried about where the next rent is going to come from. And how are we gonna pay next month's rent? and here we are 3 years later and their lives are completely changed. And so it's not easy, but if you put in the work, it can happen. You can change your life.

Hannah Maruyama [00:48:36]:

Yeah. because when I think about that blur of studying, I don't know any other time in life where I was that consistent with doing something so difficult. And that paid off. And so that is a really good thing to look back and reflect on because there is nothing that I did that anyone else could not do. And I really, really believe that from the bottom of my heart. It's just looking at something going, okay. There's an opportunity here. much work do I need to do in order to make this opportunity real for me and then doing it. And that sounds very not fun, but and it wasn't fun. It was not fun, but that is how to make these things happen. If you were trying to get from point a to point b, what is in between there is just a lot of really crappy days of doing really crappy stuff that's really simple and boring and hard.

Ryan Maruyama [00:49:25]:

Yeah. Definitely. And I think this is a great place to end it. I don't wanna take up your whole day. I'm surprised with how much time we took talking about getting to this point where you are in your Salesforce job and you're making $70,000 a year. I thought that we would move a little bit quicker, but I like that we went into a lot of detail. I think there's a lot of things. 1, personally, there's a lot of things that I didn't even know. that was going on in your head and from your experience. So personally, I really enjoyed this episode. I'd love to know what the audience, what you folks think about this episode. Leave us a comment on YouTube. Contact us at contacted let us know what you think about this episode. I think we're gonna break this up into 2 parts. In next week, we will do part 2 where we're catch us up from your Salesforce admin job, getting that, landing that, and then eventually breaking 6 figures. How does that sound to you?

Hannah Maruyama [00:50:21]:

That sounds great.

Ryan Maruyama [00:50:22]:

Yeah. Awesome. And for everybody listening, thank you so much for tuning in. As usual, you can find links to everything that we talk about at degreefree.c04/ podcast. If you'd like to connect with Hannah, you can do so on LinkedIn. You can do so on TikTok. Her TikTok is at degreefree. A link to her LinkedIn will be at degreefree.co4/ podcast in the show notes. And that's pretty much it for this week, guys, until next week, Aloha.

Join the Degree Free! Receive exclusive tips, tools, and resources so you can crush it no degree needed:
Newsletter Sign Up - Email Only

Teach Youself. Get Work. Make Money.

We'll show you how in our Degree Free Launch Program
Check out the program
Degree Free Logo White

Are You Ready to Join the Degree Free?

Yes! Sign Me Up!
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram