From Music Teacher to Certified Salesforce Administrator

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Tam HS 2About a year ago I found myself at a fork in the road. Not only was I 5 months pregnant, but my desk job forced a 3-hour (round trip) commute down my throat every day. I also knew I wanted something more for myself. I’d been a public school teacher for 10 years prior to my paper-pushing desk job (yes, actual paper), and while I liked working in an office, I knew I was going nowhere real quick. That’s when I was introduced to Salesforce.

I’d never worked in sales. I wasn’t introduced to Salesforce through my work place. I simply had a friend who worked at Salesforce and just happened to say one day, “Hey, Tam. I think you’d make a great Salesforce Administrator.” Oh really?

After an hour-and-a-half commute home that evening, through the bumper-to-bumper DC traffic along the 495 beltway, I started my Salesforce journey with the help of Google. By the time I laid my head on my pillow that night, I had a spark inside my belly (aside from my in-utero son) that was exciting and terrifying all at the same time. I wanted to be a Salesforce Administrator. But how on earth do I get there? I mean, where do I even start? And let’s not forget, Tam, you are 5 months pregnant.

Making Connections

First, I got on Twitter. I found Salesforce people and followed them. I soon realized that these were experts and beginners, newbies and pros with decades of experience. These people shared my growing passion, they lived and breathed Salesforce, and, even more amazing, I soon learned that these people LOVE helping people learn about Salesforce! One of the most amazing things about Salesforce is the community and their openness to helping and sharing. Becoming one with Salesforce is like joining a family! But I didn’t stop at Twitter. I joined the Salesforce Success Community and found a local Salesforce user group. I was ready to start talking the Salesforce talk and walking the Salesforce walk.

Finding a Mentor

I am inspired by passionate people. Along my Twitter and Success Community travels, I found many passionate and inspiring people (they are also brilliant and outgoing and completely supportive). I reached out personally to some individuals in hopes of finding my mentor, and, as luck would have it, I found two. Mentors are important because life is filled with questions. Some questions don’t have answers, and other questions can’t be answered with words, yet there are many, many questions that DO have answers. But before you ask them, you want to make sure you’re asking the right people. My mentors also push me in new directions and come up with ideas that would otherwise elude me. I would never have been able to achieve this huge mile marker of passing my exam (in this epic journey of becoming a Salesforce Administrator) without the guidance, support, ideas, and brilliance of my mentors.

Starting a Salesforce Developer Org

I got a Dev Org, and I played. I found as many videos from Salesforce University as I could find, and I did what they did in my Dev Org. I wasn’t aware of Salesforce’s Trailhead training until a little further in to my journey, but I’ll mention it in this section as it’s a great learning tool. If you want to see my blog about Trailhead, check out “Why Trailhead is a Salesforce Newbie Must.”

Creating a Blog

Both of my mentors suggested that I start a blog. At first I thought it might be a waste of time. Who wants to read what I have to say? What do I even have to say? But you know what? People actually started to read my posts! Not only that, but people started to SHARE my blog posts, and then more people started following me on Twitter. I would write about what I was currently learning or the difficulties of that darn catch-22 (how do you get the job before the experience if you need the experience to get the job?) or how I would be willing to work for free if someone just took a chance on me! And then, before I knew it, one of my blog posts got the attention of a respected Salesforce consulting partner, and I landed a job interview. A DREAM job interview. Who would have guessed the secret to getting a job would have been a blog? Not me. So glad I listened to my mentors.

Working Hard

This was my chance. I ran with it. I worked hard. I still work hard, because I still want this. When passion drives you, it takes you to a whole new level. You end up working hard because you enjoy it.

Studying Hard

I didn’t just want a job, I wanted to be a Certified Salesforce Administrator. When I wasn’t working (or being a mommy and a wife), I was studying. Some days that meant I didn’t study at all, but if there was time, I used it wisely. There are a lot of great studying resources out there (some I’ve already mentioned in this blog), and a lot of bad ones, too. When in doubt, I always looked things up and made sure that I was studying them correctly. I took copious notes and tested everything out in my Dev Org. Pieces came together. I have to add that I am exceptionally lucky that my bosses and colleagues are supportive, encouraging, and amazing resources. They are like having a dream team Rolodex of Salesforce knowledge in my back pocket. The people I work with are amazing.

Booking the Exam

There comes a point when you just have to set a date. The time between when I was hired at Red Argyle and the date I took the Admin exam was 4 months and 10 days. I didn’t NEED to pass the exam at that time. It wasn’t a requirement of me keeping my job or anything like that. I WANTED to pass it then. This was a sort of test that I put on myself. I wouldn’t say that I was completely ready on the day I booked the exam (about 2 weeks before the exam date), but I knew I was ready when I walked in the exam room on the morning of the test.

Giving Thanks

My Salesforce Administrator journey is far from being over, and who knows if my friend will be correct that I’ll be a “great Salesforce Administrator.” I am still in daily need of mentors, colleagues, and help searches, but when I compare where I was a year ago to where I am today, I feel like I’m a different person. I would be remiss if I didn’t use this post to throw some important shout-outs to people who helped me get where I am today. Without being sappy or emotional, I’ll just say that you know who you all are, and I couldn’t have done it without a single one of you.

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