What an Amplify Admin Learned at TrailheaDX
by Cheryl Curry, Salesforce Admin
I’m happy to work in the nonprofit sector, and have used Salesforce since 2012. At my third Dreamforce, I had recently started working on HomeKeeper, a nonprofit AppExchange partner, and my supervisor invited me to attend the Amplify breakfast. I appreciated this event, where I connected with others who use Salesforce and are passionate about empowering women, nonbinary, and transgender folks. At the Amplify breakfast, I had the good fortune of winning an “Ultimate” ticket to TrailheaDX.
TrailheaDX may be the Developer Conference, but this year was marketed to a wider audience, which I felt I could fit into. As a Certified Admin who majored in English, I had less experience with Developer tools and challenges. Salesforce Admin work has always felt approachable to me - although it still takes hard work and logical thinking - but coding felt like a different game entirely. However, I have several great Developer role models, like Angela Mahoney and Melissa Prcic, who I met through the Portland Women in Tech User Group (one of the sponsors of Forcelandia). This reminds me I can learn to code, and that anything I learn helps me communicate the needs of HomeKeeper users, when I work alongside our Developers.
With this in mind, I signed up for the Administrator to Developer Bootcamp, which was designed for Admins with little to no prior programming experience. If I was going to attend the Developer Conference, I wanted to learn the stuff that is hard to crack in Trailhead alone.
The Bootcamp occurred before the conference, and the three days of classes were bookended with two certification exams. Since there is no introductory Developer exam, I opted to take the Advanced Administrator exam. I don’t currently administer many features covered on that test, like Change Sets and advanced Security setups, so I was not surprised when I didn’t earn another certification. However, I learned from the tests, and it was valuable to be in the exam headspace– some Salesforce staff even made it enjoyable. All TrailheaDX attendees received two test vouchers, so I look forward to earning another certification.
Administrator to Developer Bootcamp was a challenge. I found much of the content beyond introductory level. Part of the challenge was that 5 days of content was condensed into 3 days (as instructors would remind us while speeding through slides). I found additional value when I worked thru challenges on my own to apply what I learned, and when I could discuss concepts with other Dev newbies. Unfortunately, due to the classroom setup of the room, and the sheer amount of information squished into 5 days, this often occurred outside the Bootcamp. The Bootcamp provided a study hall for all attendees, where I got to compare notes with attendees, and Salesforce staff. Overall, I was exposed to a lot of valuable ideas and learned some new Developer vocabulary that will help with “translation” and troubleshooting.
After three long days, it was time for the sold-out TrailheaDX conference. This was held in the Moscone Center, only, which saved on shoe leather, but I didn’t end up attending as many sessions as I planned. Often sessions advertised as “walk-in” were full. As a result, I and other seasoned users of the Salesforce Events app found themselves on the Expo floor. Organization was challenging - for example I only learned TrailheaDX had offered Hands On Trainings a week later, from another attendee. At an Expo computer demo, I get to test a cool new Process Builder tip on my own device. I attended some valuable talks that helped me understand best practices of version control, and mapping feature value. I found several Expo presentations that were insightful for my process of making HomeKeeper a “Lightning Ready” app, such as User-Centered Design for Moving to Lightning Experience.
Whenever I couldn’t get into the session that matched my skills and interest, I would do something fun, like leave a note from the HomeKeeper team.
Frequently, I returned to the Community Campfire. Here, Salesforce User Group organizers and other great people shared insightful stories. I got to hear from amazing individuals, and sometimes meet them, so I could explain that their formulas or clear instructions have helped me stay sane at 5:30 on a Friday. I also met organizers of other Salesforce Saturday groups, like Mary Tagler of Chicago.
Often, I heard seasoned Salesforce developer attendees talking about TrailheaDX as the conference where you could “get something done”. It was refreshing to be an event where building Salesforce solutions was the main goal. I enjoyed seeing local preteens at the conference, as well as Pep Up Tech students. The demographics of women and people of color were better than I would have expected at a developer conference. I look forward to hearing how TrailheaDX continues to evolve! Thanks again to Amplify for sending me. I appreciate being part of this mission-focused work.
Cheryl Curry is a Certified Salesforce Administrator, who enjoys learning tricks from the developer toolbox. She sees Salesforce as a tool that can help people feel empowered in their daily lives, and help build a more equal world. Cheryl is the Training and Support Specialist for HomeKeeper, a Salesforce App, which is a product of the nonprofit Grounded Solutions Network. Based in Portland, OR, she hosts monthly Salesforce Saturdays and Trailhead Tuesdays, and will speak at Forcelandia in August 2018.