How I became a Salesforce Administrator


Even though I am very much aware, it is always so crazy to me how life can change so quickly. Traveling, moving, and a complete career change have all gotten me out of WACK but I’m still holding on by a thread trying to keep up The Glam Giraffe so bear with me! I'm already getting ahead of myself though so let me start from the beginning…

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This time last year, one of my best friends, Eileen, came back from Dreamforce and told me about Salesforce's relatively new program for both veterans and military spouses called Vetforce. This program, allows you to go through official Salesforce training, take a Salesforce exam, and choose your own career trail, all for FREE. With anything, there are struggles and hardships, but let me tell you, they are worth it. I'll walk through a little more detail of the whole process: 

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1. Sign up for Vetforce. You fill out a simple contact information form and verify your military status with "Troop ID" and then submit your registration. An acceptance email will be sent within 24 hrs and you are now verified into the Vetforce community!

2. Start self-paced Trailhead education. In order to open up access to attend a Salesforce class, (more in step 3) you must complete short lessons yourself, called Salesforce badges on their Trailhead platform. I think it is around 20-30 badges, but don't quote me on that. This is 100% self-paced, so you can go as fast or slow as you would like. The fastest they could realistically be done is probably in 2-3 weeks. It will obviously take longer if you are working on this while working full time or doing other things.. Personally, we were in the process of moving from San Diego to Monterey so it took me about 2-3 months to completely finish them all. 

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3. Register for courses. Once you finish the required trailhead badges, you are able to unlock registration for the actual Salesforce classes. These classes will depend on what path you want to take and what certification you want to obtain. The "Salesforce Administration" certification is a good baseline to follow, no matter what path you lean towards afterwards, and you can always get more certifications! A helpful tool for determining what you want out of your Salesforce career can be found HERE.

This is a little tricky when registering for the courses through Vetforce. The classes are one week long, Monday-Friday from 9AM to 5PM every day. They cost around $2500-$3000 each normally, but completely covered through Vetforce. Forever grateful. Based in Monterey, the closest "in-person" class was in San Francisco, and that was just not going to work out with commuting there everyday (3 hrs one way) or getting a hotel for the week, so luckily they offer Virtual classes as well! The only kicker is that each virtual class only allows two Vetforce students in at one time, so as you can imagine, these are full up into the future. 

I actually tried to take the "Advanced Administrator" course before the "Beginner Administrator" course because the beginner course waitlist was over 2 months long and I already had a few years of experience in Salesforce from my first job out of college, but I DO NOT RECOMMEND. The best thing to do is to wait for your spot in the beginner course because they cover extremely important information (only found in the course) relevant to taking the exam. I learned that the hard way after taking the exam after only taking the advanced course and failing by ONE QUESTION, then having to go back, get on the waitlist for the beginner course, and take the exam again. I passed the exam after that, by the way.

4. Exam time. You can choose to skip taking a course and go straight to taking the exam, however, I found the class to be the most beneficial before taking the exam. It is a 60 question multiple choice exam timed within 105 minutes. I wish it was as easy as it sounds, but it has those "A and B, B and C, all of the above, none of the above" questions that really get ya and force you to know what you're doing. It is usually $200 to take, but Vetforce covers the cost of your first exam via exam voucher ($100 after that). For more info on the exam process, check it out HERE.

The first time I tried to take the exam I had opted for the in-home version where cameras must be placed on me at all times (thinking it would come through my mac webcam) while I took it through my own computer. After reading all the info and downloading all the secure software, I sat down 15 minutes early to open up the exam and get logged in, but when I tried to open it, it kept showing error messages saying “two cameras were not found”. It turns out, you have to have two cameras facing you from the front of your computer and the back of your computer so they can see that you have no visible notes around you! Serious stuff! I obviously freaked out and called them crying saying I didn't know and either they felt really bad for me or this happens often, because it wasn't a big deal and I they just rescheduled me to take the exam at an in-person testing center... learned that lesson real fast. The downside was that the nearest testing center was in San Jose, about a 1.5 hr drive one way without traffic. All part of the process I guess!

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Okay.. so that was becoming certified. The next step is landing a job. To be completely honest, I was kind of bummed after I became certified I didn't have 13 offer letters in my inbox by the time I got home. Another struggle of being in Monterey (tough life I know) as beautiful as it is, the technology segment is not the most present. Yes, San Fran and San Jose aka Silicon Valley are about 2 hrs away, but who the hell wants to commute that far everyday?? No freakin way. So I tried limiting my search by virtual and remote opportunities ONLY to start. It shouldn't have come as a surprise that even though I had some experience and the official certification, this would be my first Salesforce "admin" position and employers were hesitant on hiring someone not in the office - as I can understand! If I were in different areas, like San Francisco or San Diego, this would have been no problem and people can't hire new admins fast enough.. 

I applied to Salesforce Administrator positions, Salesforce Consultant positions, even Salesforce volunteer work positions, literally anything remote I could find to gain some experience under my belt. After about a week of not hearing back from anyone, I really evaluated my process and remembered the saying “insanity is trying to do the same thing over and over again and expecting the same results.” I sent my resume into a free resume service: topresume.com which was an absolute game changer because they gave me back AMAZING feedback and I immediately changed my resume design through another free resource: canva.com!

Here is a different kind before and after - of my resume LOL:  

Totally makes a difference, right? This was kind of like an “ah-ha” moment and after I started using the updated version, I immediately got more interests and even a call that very same day!

Once the process started picking up, I went on about 4-5 serious in-person interviews, one actually in Sacramento where they put me in a hotel the night before, and had 3 different job offers. Eventually found my perfect fit, a Salesforce Administrator position here in Pebble Beach for a non-profit called AIM for Youth Mental Health. I had an interview with our founder on Monday, was offered the position on Tuesday, and started that Thursday! It was so fast, but was exactly what I was looking for after not being in the work force for about 6 mths! In fact, my first day was one week before our annual Gala at Pebble Beach which was amazing to be apart of to say the least.

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WHEW: You still with me?  For those of you in the process of transition in your career or looking for a new position, IT IS NOT EASY and I feel your pain.

My biggest pieces of advice are:

  • Keep Going - And start somewhere! What seems like a longggg process is really only baby steps and then before you know it, your goal is accomplished!

  • Evaluate - Maybe you get so excited about a position and even have an interview, but then it doesn’t work out. Why? Continue to tweak your resume + cover letter. Don’t get too down on yourself, remember that the perfect fit is still out there.

  • Don’t Settle - You are worth it and MORE. I asked for 10k more than what I was offered, and guess what, they said yes (a week after I started working and they saw my skillset)! You never get what you don’t ask for in my opinion and it honestly never hurts to ask.

At first I thought this was beyond my reach and too good to be true, but here I am, a certified Salesforce Administrator, working in the Salesforce ecosystem, and just scratching the surface of a life-long career.

What does this mean for The Glam Giraffe? To tell you the truth, I still don’t have an idea of what this is besides a creative outlet and hobby, so I guess I’ll continue to be sporadic and random and probably add in more “business casual” outfits ;)

And one final thing - I was asked to represent Vetforce this year at DREAMFORCE in San Francisco September 24-28! It’s truly amazing how things can come full circle if you put your mind to it and trust yourself.

Thanks for following along and please feel free to reach out with any questions you have! Special thank you to Salesforce and Vetforce for changing my life & career as a military spouse, I am forever grateful.

xx