Hopefully by now you’re aware of how awesome Salesforce is, what a Salesforce career can bring to you, and some of the paths you can choose to walk down. You probably have a few obvious questions such as “How do I get started?”, “How long will it take to get started?”, and “How much will it cost?” Depending on what direction you want your career to take, there may be slightly different answers in the long term, but for taking your first steps, you can start today, it will take 20 minutes, and it will cost you absolutely nothing.
A couple of weeks ago, Salesforce made generally available its Trailhead learning tool that it introduced in beta at their Dreamforce conference last year. Trailhead as the article states, is a fun, free, and easy way to learn Salesforce. They play off the camping theme and divide modules up into different “trails” that again allow you to choose your own path. They have trails for almost every possible path including Admins, Developers, Non-Profits Admins, and even End Users. They also have trails for everyone regardless of your experience from Beginners on up. They are constantly adding more and more trails and modules as well.
Trailhead is accessible at trailhead.salesforce.com and gives you the opportunity to consume knowledge in bite size chunks. The trails consist of modules and the modules are broken down into steps that average about 15-20 minutes in length to get through. As you progress through the steps, you can earn points, and as you complete modules, you can earn badges! You can also choose to complete the project route and get even more hands on experience focused on building certain applications. Salesforce now even lets you show off the skills you’ve learned by posting your badges to your LinkedIn profile. You have the option of posting each skill individually under your Certifications section or you can add it as part of your Education section as shown below to show that you’ve used it to learn. Just search for “Trailhead by Salesforce” as your place of study. You can also make your Trailhead profile publicly available to show off to your friends, co-workers, and even recruiters all the skills you’ve learned!
The other cool thing about Trailhead is that it does more than just give you content to read. Some module steps have questions to answer at the end to make sure you’ve understood what you’ve read but my favorite ones are the ones that actually allow you to create with your hands what you just learned in your own free Developer org. Trailhead can then validate in real time that you’ve built what you were trying to create correctly and will help guide you if you’ve missed something. This gives you quick, free, hands on experience using a variety of new features.
I usually like to describe learning Salesforce as an Olympic swimming event. It’s not easy, but it is a lot of fun and if you do it really well, you can get a medal at the end! Good news for us, unlike the Olympics though, there are an unlimited number of medals so don’t give up and take Dory’s advice to “just keep swimming”! Trailhead is the initial push off in this Olympic swim. It won’t get you all the way there, but it will give you one heck of a heads start and do a lot of the initial leg work for you. Whether you want to just learn some new terminology, get some basic coding skills, get introduced to a new part of Salesforce, or just get a refresher, there is a great chance that Trailhead has something for you.
At this past Dreamforce, I presented on how you can use Trailhead to help get you on the road to becoming Salesforce Certified. This is one of many steps you can take to help you advance your career, but to be honest I had a ton of fun just building things and earning badges. Like the Trailhead theme suggests, you can always choose whichever direction you’d like to go (another difference from the Olympics where you’re not under a time limit and don’t have to stay in your lane). I’d actually suggest checking out a few different paths to see what works for you since everyone has different learning styles.
If you do choose to go down the certification path, I’d like to make sure you know all about Salesforce University, more commonly referred to as SalesforceU, a group at Salesforce whose main responsibility is to help teach people how to use the platform and get certifications that can help you along in your career. As I mentioned in my previous post, there are a multitude of opportunities available here and several of them can be quite lucrative. To help teach, SalesforceU offers courses both in person and online. While I haven’t been fortunate enough to be able to take any of the in person courses due to the cost, I do hear great things and I would highly recommend the online versions. While you can’t learn the same depth of 5 days worth of content in only a couple hours, I found them extremely helpful in understanding terminology and learning the ins and outs of the platform. The courses are also directly relevant to getting certified on the platform as well. If your company is a Premier Salesforce customer, you will have access to a larger portion of the online curriculum than if you’re a Standard customer, but there are many courses available to Standard partners as well. While these courses can take a bit longer to go through, and can cost some money depending on your relationship with Salesforce, it is a great next step to look into along your Salesforce journey. I actually took these courses before learning about Trailhead. In hindsight, I would have preferred trying out Trailhead first rather than diving in head first, but hindsight is always 20/20 and I did really enjoy learning a ton about the platform through them.
Summing It Up
I intentionally didn’t title this final section “Conclusion” because there really is no conclusion to your Salesforce journey, or whatever journey you choose to take for that matter. For Salesforce though, Trailhead is always the first place I recommend people to start and then usually a combination of SalesforceU resources and getting involved in the vibrant community that I’ll discuss in a future post. I’m available as well if you have any specific questions via Twitter, the Success Community, LinkedIn, and of course, this blog. There are a ton of people much more knowledgeable and with much more experience than myself to help guide you as well! I frequently rely on them when I have questions or wonder what my next step should be. I wish you well along your own journey, whichever path you choose to go down, and hope to see you on the trail and you drive toward your gold medals!