How to make a Career Change into Salesforce and Juggle Big Life Events

Salesforce Admins break the mold, coming from a great spectrum of backgrounds. It’s understandable that many outsiders hesitate about a career change to a Salesforce-related role – after all, it is a ‘techie’ role. The stereotyping of tech roles continues because the technology industry can be a scary place for some people; there’s big companies, big money, and it can seem very exclusive. Some people see the “You’re either in, or you’re out” attitude as a reason to steer clear.

This is why I wrote this blog post: it’s for those of you who are interested in changing careers, but have doubted your background or experience, or for those of you who think that working in technology means giving up your family or personal life – a big concern if you have a pending ‘life event’.

I actually thought both of these things before making the leap into a Salesforce Consulting Career. This is my story of how I got into Salesforce despite the doubts I had, and prove that a Salesforce career can open doors for anyone to break into a new career. There is no “profile” for Salesforce Admins – everyone is welcome to the Ohana!

My Big Life Event

I first started using Salesforce for Lead management when I reached management level after several years working in the education industry. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was sowing the seeds that would eventually become my new career.

During this time, I gave birth to my son. It was hard to have a very young child at home, and also work at a job with young children. I was starting to feel the stress of it. A friend of mine asked why I didn’t look in to changing jobs to the technology industry, but my doubts were strong: “No, they’d never consider someone like me”, I thought. Luckily, he encouraged me to apply, and amazingly, I got the job!

In at the Deep End – Reaping the Rewards

I was introduced to Salesforce in a whole new way on my first day. I liked getting through the first few assignments because it appealed to my sense of order and my co-workers seemed genuinely grateful for what I was doing.

However, out of the blue, over 1,000 new records landed in my queue and the orderliness began to disappear. It seemed impossible to handle all these records that needed modifying, and I sought advice from my manager. She introduced me to my new best friend, Data Loader. Of course, I needed an Admin profile, and when she set me up said jokingly, “Don’t break anything!”.  The feeling of watching data loader run through a batch was mesmerizing. I was hooked. I spent hours on YouTube watching videos on Data Loader, creating fields, and page layouts, and also spent a time chatting with the Salesforce Support team; they are very patient group, and will go over things with you, as many times as you need to understand it.

The weeks went by, and I became a wizard at the Data Loader. People began to ask me for help with bigger items, and then eventually started asking me questions about what else Salesforce was capable of. Every question I got, I researched and figured out how to make the change. I blocked off an hour a day on my calendar, 4-5pm. That hour was spent surfing blogs like Salesforce Ben and Admin Hero. I knew I needed certification because my lack of education in this industry, so I also studied on Certified on Demand, and the Salesforce Help & Training Portal. Soon I started getting questions from other departments, too. My role quickly changed in to more of a cross-departmental role, managing tons of data for multiple teams.

Every team that I worked with, I learned something new. I sat with anyone and everyone who was willing to give me time. I asked, “What do you use Salesforce for? Can you show me what you do? What would you change, if you could? What do you think I should know?” I started learning more advanced tasks, and eventually I progressed to workflow rules, validation rules, case assignment rules. A couple years in to this job, and, though I was not officially a Salesforce Admin, I had taught myself to do a lot, and people relied on me for things they needed. The Admin position came open at my company, and I applied and got the job.

My story progresses pretty quickly after that. I got my Administrator Certification, and attended my first Dreamforce. My skill level with Salesforce increased exponentially. But personal life doesn’t stop for anyone, and my little baby was now ready to start Kindergarten. I wanted to be home in the afternoons to spend time with him, and to be able to volunteer in his classroom. I decided to work part time for a while, and that was great. But I was still growing and wanted to learn how other companies use Salesforce. I left my job and started doing independent consulting. Today I do consulting on my own hours, on my own schedule. I do volunteer in my son’s classroom, and go on playdates. I also help companies start using Salesforce, train their new users, and educate them in best practices. I set up their new orgs and make improvements to older ones. I never stop learning. I’m constantly searching blogs and still watching training videos. One of my favorites is “90 Things I Wish I knew as a new Administrator”  Jenwlee’s certification study guides really helped me out, too. The Back to Basics series on Salesforce Ben is really great; I’m often surprised by this or that little feature that I didn’t know about. But my number one resource has been people: the first Admin I met, Community users, developers. Everyone I’ve met in the Salesforce ecosystem was happy and willing to teach me something.

Summary

I wanted to do this blog post to share that you really can break in to a new career. It truly doesn’t matter where you come from. There is no “profile” for Salesforce Admins. I’ve met admins who work full time at home with babies, or part time, and others who travel exclusively. Admins who only work remote, and admins who work the traditional 9-5 in an office. And they come from the most bizarre assortment of jobs possible. Some of them stumble in to Salesforce by accident, and some dive in, but they all have one thing in common: the passion and drive to never stop learning. It doesn’t matter where you are right now. There’s a whole new universe right at your fingertips, all you have to do is take the leap!

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