Take That, Catch-22!

A catch-22. The ultimate professional paradoxical situation that goes something like this: How do you get the job without the experience, and how do you get the experience without the job?

If you are like me, then your current career is not your first career. In fact, my current career is not even my second career, but that is besides the point. Those of us who are 2nd (or 3rd) career people know that reinventing yourself is hard work! Yet, there is a lot to be said for taking one calculated step backwards in this new career to ultimately be able to take two steps forward. If you really are like me, you realize that a step backwards is not backwards at all.

I am so pleased to share that this week I joined Red Argyle’s team of Salesforce rockstars. Not being a Salesforce rockstar (yet) myself, I am still not entirely sure how I managed to get onboard, but I believe it has something to do with the fact that I am dedicated and passionate about becoming a Salesforce Administrator. You see, I am willing to work hard and sacrifice to achieve this dream. I have the ambition, the fortitude, the time, the energy, and the passion to make it happen. What I don’t have is the real world experience. And let’s face it, when you’re trying to reinvent yourself for the third time, you’re not going far without real world experience. Fortunately, it turns out that the sacrifices we are willing to make to be who we strive to be aren’t really sacrifices at all – they are steps. Steps that lead towards a better tomorrow. Steps that lead towards a dream job. Steps that lead towards Red Argyle.

I feel I’m the luckiest girl on the planet. Red Argyle has made an investment in me, and the return on this investment will increase exponentially over time. But I too am making an investment in Red Argyle. I have the mentors, the tools, and the talent to reach my goals and my dreams. Every day is a step towards more experience and knowledge, towards certification, and a step towards becoming a Salesforce Admin.

Take that, catch-22.

Who wants an intern like me?

Make no bones about it – I want to be a Salesforce Administrator.  And I’m willing to do most anything, including interning with the right company, to get there.  There – I said it.  And I’m not shy about it.   Oh, and I want it now.   But who would want an intern like me?

I didn’t study computers or technology in college.  In fact, I studied music education.  I got a full ride cello scholarship to CU Boulder, and afterwards I taught middle school band and orchestra for ten years.  I taught kids how to read music notation.  I taught them how see  a note on a page, translate what it means in their head, and then transfer that knowledge to their fingers and arms – in a mere instant. In order to teach such complexities, you have to really understand and grasp the concepts. In fact, I believe that on the road to complete comprehension lies the art of teaching. To teach you have to separate, dissect, explain and put back together – but you have to do this in ten different ways to ensure you are hitting every kind of learning style your students might have. Bottom line?  I understand how to learn.  I am trying to further my learning of Salesforce by creating things such as my Salesforce Dashboard “Resume” (you can read my blog about that adventure here), but to develop the skills I need to continue my dissection of Salesforce, I need some “real world” experience.

I am not fresh out of college.  In fact, I graduated from college 12 years ago.  And as such, I have insight and hard earned knowledge about life in the workforce. I understand that every job comes with a certain degree of politics. I understand that there is no such thing as being OVER prepared.  And  I understand that if I’m not willing to work hard and put in the extra effort, then my boss will probably find someone who IS willing to do so. And maybe more importantly, I understand the road ahead.  While I still am looking for my “real world” Salesforce experience, I have studied and experimented with the platform enough to understand how much I still have to learn.  Bottom line?  I understand the work, effort and time that it will take to be the SF Admin guru that I am determined to become.

It’s no longer just about me.  I have a husband and a little baby boy.  I need to provide for my family and be an example to my son.  I need to bring home the bacon and take life seriously (but not too seriously, am I right?).  And in order to do that, I understand that I need skills.  And not just any kind of skills – I need mad skills. Bottom line? I will do what I need to do to get where I want to be. I can’t be an intern forever, but I am willing to take a step back now, knowing that it will help me take two steps forward in the future.

Salesforce was not my first passion.  As I mentioned already, I was a cellist and a music teacher.  I was 18 years old when I decided to be a music teacher.  And 16 years later, I finally feel old (and wise) enough to know what I want from my career.  Music kept me happy for the first quarter of my life, and Salesforce will keep me happy for the 2nd quarter.  (Quarters 3 & 4 will naturally be spent on a beach drinking pina coladas and getting pedicures.  Duh.) (BTW – who can actually decide at 18 what they want to “do” for a living and actually stick to it for their entire lives?  Not me.) Bottom line? I’m not a kid anymore. I know what I want, and I am choosing Salesforce.

I don’t need a paid internship.  (Don’t tell my husband I’m admitting to this.) I understand that in order to get my dream job of being a Salesforce Admin, I need mad skills.  I have done hours and hours of online training, and I have experimented with my own projects, but let’s face it, to have mad skills you need to DO the job over and over.  I need to DO the job in order to GET the job.  Bottom line?  I am willing to work for free to get my mad skills.  (Of course this mommy would never turn her back on a paid internship. Diapers don’t grow on trees!)

I am not as patient as I was when I was younger.  Because let’s face it – I don’t have as much time as I used to! When something needs to be done, I need to get it done now.  When there is a problem that needs to be fixed, I need to figure out how to fix it right away.  There is just not enough time in the day to wait, dillydally or put aside. Bottom line? My life revolves around prioritizing and getting the job done. From finishing laundry to customizing role hierarchies.

So there you have it!  I am an older, impatient, ex-music teacher and mother who is willing put money aside, take a step backwards, and work her ass off for the sake of getting some mad Salesforce skills.  And I am not afraid to shout it from the rooftop.  So, who would want an intern like me?



Salesforce Dashboard “Resume”

A couple of months ago I was tootling around on google – searching information about Salesforce – and I came across an infographic that caught my attention!  It was a dashboard configured to show resume information and strengths!  It was genius!

See here: Salesforce Resume

I wanted one.  I NEEDED one.  I could see that he had made an app and was open and willing to share his app, but isn’t that cheating?  Just a little bit?  I could do better than that.  Now that I knew what I wanted I was absolutely certain I could create my very own, custom made, fully functional Salesforce dashboard resume. The only problem was – where do I begin? I had never made a dashboard before.  And I’m not afraid to admit that I was a bit nervous that I was biting off more than I could chew.

And the adventure of my Salesforce dashboard resume began:

So I started with a new custom object. Added a new tab, some cool fields and some information about my work skills and…. bam.  A new custom object – that looked beautiful, but didn’t really do much.  So I turned it into a report! But it wasn’t allowing me to turn it into a report.  I had already done something wrong.  Time to go back and see what I missed.  Low and behold! I forgot to click the “Allow reports”  box in my custom object settings.  Fixed! Now back to my report. So many options, and such a simple report. Drag some things here, add some filters there, and… bam.  A report – again, beautiful, but I knew the tricky part would still be ahead.  Time to create my very first new dashboard.  I labeled it “Tamara’s Resume”, of course.  The anticipation at this point was definitely building. I pulled up my “work experience” in the data source search, dragged it over and added a vertical bar chart and…. (drum roll)… nothing. But did I really expect it to work on my first try?  (Yes.) Back to the report. Maybe I missed something.  I flipped some things and changed the row limit.  Added an average field from the summarizing toggle arrow.  Now things were cooking.  I could feel it.  Save – and back to my dashboard.  But alas – it still wasn’t working.  But hey – what’s this little wrench that says edit attributes?  Perhaps I should play there next?  Why of course you should!!!  I changed my component data on the Y-Axis, formatted by descending values and crossed my fingers.  After a couple seconds of the spinning wheel of death I had my vertical bar chart!!!!  It was beautiful!!  I jumped up and called dear husband over to look at my new creation.

Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 10.44.44 AM

It might look simple, and some people might laugh at this adventure, but what this little vertical graph meant (and means!) to me is that I can do anything.   I can figure anything out.  And from this point on things got a bit easier.

Before I knew it I had three, yes THREE, different charts and graphs that showed different information and strengths about me.

Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 10.53.11 AM

At this point I wanted to challenge myself a little bit.  I loved my “Understanding of Salesforce” tunnel chart and I wanted to create another infographic that related to my tunnel chart. I wanted a gauge that would average out my “Understanding of Salesforce” information to show where I currently saw myself between 0 and 100.  A ha!  A challenge!  Creating a report about a report?!  I got this.

And I did.

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Now if, and when, I changed my level of understanding in a certain category, my total understanding would change.  Did this take me a couple times to figure out? Yes, of course (with minimal curse words).  But I did it.  And I was very proud of myself.  Now on to the word wall – which proved to be the most complex of all the dashboards.

It all started with creating a word wall – which I did on wordle.net.  It was pretty fun to pick and choose which wordle looked the best to me.  I snapped a screen shot and then the fun began.  No charts and graphs this time!  This was the time for visualforce!  Wait…excuse me… visual what??  After a little (Ha!) time exploring static resources, and playing with some fun code (perhaps I am related to @WadeWegner after all??) I still didn’t quite have what I was looking for.  My sizing was all off and because of this my wordle was zoomed in to only show a partial picture.  So a bit of back and forth – back and forth – and I finally had what I was looking for.

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And once I put it all together:

Vogel Salesforce Dashboard Resume

Woo hoo!!  My very own, custom made Salesforce dashboard resume!!!!!  After a full Sunday fun day of Salesforce learning and building I felt satisfied and proud.  It’s amazing to think that when I began this little adventure I was nervous with some doubt of whether or not I could do this.  What I learned on this day was multi-layered.  Did I learn some fascinating things about Salesforce, reports, dashboards, custom objects, visual force, etc?  Yes, of course!  But more importantly I re-learned that I can do whatever I put my mind to.  I have the tools, the ability, the desire and the fortitude to be a Salesforce admin.  How exciting is that?!?

Thanks for joining me on this adventure of a Saleforce admin.

About me!

Very recently I have had the amazing opportunity to meet some wonderful people who have encouraged me to setup my first blog.  So here I am! In this blog I hope to share my passion for, and my experience with, being a Salesforce Administrator.   It has long been my dream to be a Salesforce Administrator and I am excited to share this journey!

I am a problem solver, doer, and maker who is passionate about finding solutions for Salesforce customers. I strive to enable people to do more, and be more, by using technology to solve business problems. I am a great combination of a question asker, and a self starter.  Initially I might have questions that will help me get on the correct path, but once I’m there, I am very comfortable  (and get excited by) exploring the path and learning all the routes.

On the road towards becoming a Salesforce admin I have had many amazing experiences as a classical cellist, a public school teacher, a bartender at an Irish pub, a singer/song writer and an account manager at a non-profit fundraising firm – just to name a few.  I believe what defines me the most, however, are my friends and family.  I strive off their encouragement and love.

My 6 month goal is to find a position being a full time Salesforce administrator with a company that needs an energetic, fast learner that is very passionate about the Salesforce platform.  This dream job will be my first experience being a full-time admin and I am looking forward to growing and learning new things every day.

I am not quite sure what adventures and mishaps will happen along this journey, but I am excited to be here, and happy to be sharing my adventures of a Salesforce admin.

You can contact me on Twitter @TamVogel.

You can connect with my on LinkedIn @ http://www.linkedin.com/in/tamvogel.TamPic1