A Journeyman Finds a New Trail

The Ohana is full of amazing stories of people changing their lives, helping others, overcoming adversity, and showing that hard work, a good heart, and a goal can beat just about anything thrown our way.  We want to share some of those amazing stories to encourage those starting their own journeys and demonstrate the real power of Salesforce. 

Our first entry in this hopefully regular series (contact us at ohana@theaccidentaladmins.com to share yours/nominate someone) is about a Journeyman electrician, Lucas Felman, attempting to rewire his career & life with Salesforce but is having trouble getting a company to see past his work experience and understand his new direction. 


Enough is enough.  I needed a change in my life – a serious change.  Real change.

I have been ranting to my wife, Shannon, about my career as Journeyman Electrician for several years. I just didn’t know of many career paths that are open to me, a construction worker.

Shannon has been working with Salesforce for 10 years and tells me every time I complain, “Get on Trailhead.”  I believed her when she says I could be a Salesforce administrator, but I have never followed through…until now.

I was coming back from a long weekend of mountain biking in North Carolina, having cleared my head, and decided I was finally going to take action and start with Trailhead.  That was November 10, 2017, and I’d like to share my journey with you as I approach the half-year mark.

I sat down with my Macbook and Shannon directed me to Trailhead.Salesforce.com. She showed me how to get started, and pointed me towards a few modules to start with.   I began learning and collected a few badges. This lit the fire that still burns in me today…I was now using every spare moment to learn Salesforce on Trailhead.  This was the beginning of my lifestyle change; the biggest step towards becoming a Salesforce admin.

There would be many late nights putting in the hours to learn the Salesforce basics.   It was confusing at first, as it was all very foreign to me. Objects, fields, picklists, API, lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my?  Okay, but really, what is this terminology and how does it all work?


I found the Trailmix curated to help with those sitting for the Salesforce administrator exam. I started working my way through all of the modules. My love for Salesforce was growing. At the end of this Trailmix was a Superbadge – these are real world hands on problem solving badges. I was thrilled once I acquired this Superbadge! I said to myself, well, maybe I am ready. Maybe it’s time to try a practice test. Maybe it’s time to see where I stand, and what else I need to study.

I took a few practice tests from Mike Wheeler Media. Feeling very confident with my skills, I took all three tests. I was disgusted with my results; on all of the tests, I scored below 65%. There were questions on topics I never read about or learned on Trailhead. Confused, I dove back into Trailhead for help. Still searching for more answers, I went to Focus on Force and purchased their study guide and practice tests. These tests were very hard. Long, wordy, scenario-based questions. I failed all six tests. Now I knew I needed more hands on learning.  I began using the study guide, taking notes, and configuring items in my developer org. I ran through the practice tests many more times. I looked at the answers after each question to easily learn from my mistakes. Now, things were starting to click. It was as if the smoke cleared and I really started to understand all of the fundamentals of Salesforce.

I now felt proficient enough to schedule my admin certification test for three weeks out. This was a sure way to give me a deadline to make myself stay on track and keep studying. I continued to read over the study guide, read the Ohana’s questions in Salesforce Chatter groups. I was continually taking the practice tests and scoring better each time. The day before my test, I took all nine practice tests and passed every one with an 80% or better.

Test day was Monday, January 22 at 9:30 am. I was a nervous nelly as I checked in at the testing site. You must hand in all your belongings to the proctor and they hand you a laminated piece of paper and a marker for scratch paper. I was so anxious to begin. I started the test and felt scared and lost. The questions were very tough. I said to myself, “Well, it’s okay to fail. You can take this test again.” I marked many questions for review. But about halfway through the 65 questions, my mood changed. I calmed my nerves and felt better about my answers to the questions and gained confidence as the test went on. Excited to finish and see the results, I first went back and reviewed all the questions I marked for review.  I changed many answers. With five minutes remaining, I clicked on the submit button.

Imagine the butterflies in my stomach…the few seconds the test took to spit out my score felt like an absolute eternity. Then I read this: “Congratulations, Trailblazer! You’ve successfully completed the certification exam to become a Salesforce Certified Administrator.” I wanted to scream and throw my fists in the air. I did it! I passed! Almost too excited to drive, I texted my wife the good news and collected myself to drive home.

I collaborated with Shannon when I got home and we immediately got to work. We changed my LinkedIn profile to include Salesforce certified administrator. We put my resume together with my new accomplishments. I was ready to start applying for jobs. My LinkedIn profile began getting hits and my profile views went up 300% from the last week. I felt unstoppable.

I started to look for jobs. I entered Salesforce in my search term which returned many results. There were so many options.  As I began to read job descriptions, I developed this fear in my body. I saw many companies wanted three years minimum experience as an admin. Now what? How will I get this experience? What company is going to hire me? None, I thought to myself. I felt very negative and began to doubt my decision to become a Salesforce certified admin.

Shannon picked up my spirits telling me to believe. “You will need to put in some more work,” she said, “but we will get you hired for a Salesforce position.” After that, I began to build my up my network. I connected with Salesforce recruiters and began talks with them. Things were looking better. But I was still hearing the same thing. “Employers want someone with more experience.”

So, my journey doesn’t end here.  In eleven weeks, I met Salesforce, I made the decision to become a certified admin, and met my goal – and while I don’t have a full-time Salesforce admin position yet, I’ve picked up some really fun freelance jobs for experience.  I did a data migration project and created products and pricebooks for Application Verification; configured the org and trained the users at my favorite radio station WYEP; stood up a desk.com component which migrated to Service Cloud for Sabius.io, building a Community page and Knowledge articles for their clients.  I’ve spoken to a lot of recruiters and am developing the theory that Salesforce is many things to many people – no two instances are the same, so there is still so much to learn, regardless if you’ve been on the platform for ten years or ten weeks.

I am so thankful to the Pittsburgh Salesforce User Groups, for welcoming me in as one of their own and really encouraging my progress (especially the Accidental Admins cohort); Mike Wheeler and Martin Gessner for their excellent work on developing material to test my knowledge and focus my studies; and I’m especially thankful for my wife for being my mentor and motivator, giving me the courage to progress down the Salesforce path (plus she’s the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen).


As he continues to take Salesforce work on a project basis to build experience, Lucas is actively looking for his first ‘home’ in the Salesforce ecosystem.  He can be reached on LinkedIn.  

Comments

  1. Jonathan Gregg says:

    You know you more the best at achieving whatever it is YOU want to do. You always have. Good stuff bodini. Me, imma just keep on swinging a hammer. Jesus respected it! Can’t fight that guy.

  2. Aunt Christine says:

    You failed and you got back up. You failed again and you got back up again. You did just okay and you got back up to do better. Perseverance -Amen!!!!! You could have thrown up your hands anywhere along the way – but you didn’t. You showed courage to keep going. That is when life expands for us! I am so impressed by your actions. I salute you Luke. You are the exception these days. You learned something big about our life Journey. I am so proud of you. Huge accomplishment. Doesn’t it feel good to know you hung in there!

    • Lucas Felman says:

      Thank you Aunt Christine. It feels amazing. I am so thrilled with this whole experience. It’s been life changing for me.

  3. James D. says:

    What are suggestions for getting freelance work when you don’t have experience other than volunteerposiriins ?

  4. William H Watson says:

    Lucas, your story triggered an interest on my part to explore exactly what is a “certified salesforce administrator.” I have a passing knowledge of SQL (worked at Tandem), and I have photographed the iconic San Francisco waterfront and saw the newest addition, the Salesforce Tower (sadly, no visitors permitted). A lot of dots to connect. It seems to be a relatively low financial investment, high sweat equity way to enter the professional workforce. However, I can see the high bar for initial full time positions: the tools are one thing, but the knowledge of how business works is not a simple set of skills to learn. However, here’s the encouragement I have. The discipline you needed to get the certification is the same as it takes to acquire business knowledge, just not as well defined. So, good luck and keep up the networking. At your age, the skies the limit.

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