I began working with Salesforce in October of 2012 at a non-profit higher education organization outside of Chicago. My entry to Salesforce started with mass data migration and data manipulation. I sat in a cross between power user and admin with limited abilities.
Within one year my fast-growing fascination with Salesforce had propelled me into a world and career I never considered. Originally I made plans to get a job that would pay for or support my return to grad school for a grad degree in English, so I could become a professor at a low tier university or junior college. I also determined I would be a published faculty member versus an administrative one.
Things did not pan out for those goals and now I am deeply embedding my roots into the tech sector.
My foray into tech was a gradual transition from a marketing role to Salesforce Report Specialist to Salesforce Data Specialist. I specialized in everything Salesforce without the permission to play in Force.com/back end of Salesforce.
When I made the decision to commit myself to Salesforce, I made the decision to ask for more money. My marketing role paid me twelve dollars per hour and I knew learning how to manipulate data on my own was worth far more than my marketing pay.
I was given the run around, then I was told there were budget issues. Next came the order to train someone else on all that I learned and established regarding Salesforce. Back to Marketing after learning about the magical world of Salesforce.
Yeah, right. I was livid, but I made a decision to invest that angry energy into myself. Improve my mind, my skills and my health. I cut my hours and I split my new available time between gym and learning Salesforce. I listened to inspirational and motivational TEDTalks daily.
I also made a promise to myself that I would say yes to opportunity and no to getting too comfortable. My chance came when the person I trained left with a couple of days notice at a crucial point: new campaign and new data loads needed.
I was called in and they knew what I wanted before I would start. I catapulted myself from $12/hr [$23K/yr] to a salary I had never seen before within eight months of starting the job. I quickly learned that the person I trained had performed minimal to none of the work necessary to maintain the existing data integrity. Now I had to roll up my sleeves and clean.
My data manipulation of records factored in the millions per month. Somehow I coordinated a method to migrate, monitor and maintain millions of records parsed out to twenty-something different business units. Working with a vendor who supplied regular data updates, I was able to establish a system that worked.
Granted things were very bumpy at the beginning, but my mindset at the time was “This is your job and you need to get it done, so you don’t get fired.” Of course when things went wrong, I was given a written referral. Never mind the fact that things went very well shortly after I realized what I did wrong. Hell, I had no idea what I was doing and I wasn’t trained to do it either.
In hindsight, I had a 70/30 chance of failure automatic given I only had a production environment and no sandbox to test. I developed several test scenarios similar to what I would do in an important graded chemistry lab in college. I learned from my mistakes and quickly acquired a knack for risk analysis prior to performing a mass manipulation or migration.
To further improve my methods, I began reading scholarly articles on the following:
- Business Intelligence
- Data Quality
- Development Methodologies
- Data Science
My research into these topics brought me to more TED talks. I began listening to tech podcasts in addition to TED talks daily, while I worked. I also discovered that there was a whole world of Salesforce users who shared everything from tips & tricks to their hard won journeys to their current positions.
The first moment I considered this Salesforce thing could be something more than data management was when I went to the website www.SFDC99.com. There is this guy named David Liu who wanted to work at Google. He learned how to become a Salesforce administrator and developer on his own. After achieving his goals as well as his dream job, he wrote about his experience on his own website.
I thought to myself, “If this guy can do this, I can do this.” I began to read about others who were inspired by David through his website because he created an open forum for others to share in their successes.
This was amazing to me.
As I made the decision to immerse myself into a career in Salesforce, my company had our own “Black Friday” on Halloween. I watched my boss walk out to her car in the parking lot and talk on the phone. I could see her crying. I thought, “What the heck is going on?”
Soon I discovered she had been fired along with fourteen others throughout the company. It was Halloween and a costume competition with festivities was planned. All of this coincided into something I would never forget.
People dressed in costumes walking into the parking lot with boxes of their belongings. I kept wondering if I was truly awake and if somehow I had made it into the Twilight Zone. It was sad and I immediately began cleaning my cubicle. Did I think I was next to get fired? Nope, I didn’t think I was next; however, nobody in the company expected my boss to get fired because she did everything for the company and yet she was in the parking lot in her car crying.
No way was I going to take a chance.
I began working on my resume and the following week I signed up for LinkedIn premium, the free trial. As a data person, I meticulously tracked my job hunt progress. I applied to 22 positions, received 11 replies, had 8 initial interviews with 4 follow-up interviews and an offer a little over a month since I initiated my job hunt.
I remember applying to LinkedIn and Salesforce just because I made myself a promise to try. When LinkedIn replied with a request for interview, that moment made me think about all of the “opportunities” I had missed in my life. What I missed became all the fuel I needed for what the future could hold for me.
Dwelling in the past and thinking about what could have been would not take me towards what I wanted, which was I am doing this or that. I did not get the job at LinkedIn. I did progress further than I ever considered and it was a validation to my “worth” in the job market.
My offer brought me to a new job as a Salesforce Administrator for a much bigger company.
I began my new adventure as a Salesforce Administrator the week before Christmas. See my next post, Rebe the Salesforce Administrator for what happened next.
Thanks for reading!