Accidental Admin to Deliberate Developer — Part 2

The reboot

When we left off in the last post, I was looking to reconnect to my tech roots and get back to being hands-on. Working as a consultant with a Salesforce partner sounded like the way to do just that and I was fortunate enough to get hired by one. Suddenly i was surrounded by *really* smart people that knew a lot of Salesforce (including an MVP and two Certified Technical Architects). Suddenly, I’d gone from being a big fish in a small pond to out-of-depth newbie. Everyone had certifications and all I had was a fistful on anecdotes. But I had a strong mentor — and this was key to future growth. I booked in for my admin certification and studied the heck out of it.

Certifications — yikes!

So exam day came around. I’d never done one before and to add to the pressure, there was a spreadsheet doing the rounds where the others would bet on whether I’d pass and how long I’d take to do so (n.b. this wasn’t just for me, all new uncertified employees were on the spreadsheet).

Ok, so let’s rain on their little parade — Admin passed, 22 mins. Maybe I did know something after all. Let’s try another one, in case it was a fluke. Developer passed, 12 mins. That was fun, when I came out of the test, they thought I’d come out of the exam room because there was a problem and the test couldn’t start.

Ok, smartypants, go work with clients

It’s funny how riding high is so quickly followed by bumping back down to earth. All these certifications are fine and dandy, but real billable work is the fuel of the Salesforce partners and it was time I was released to do some. I was out on site Mon-Fri, staying at a nearby hotel. It was hard work, both in terms of the day job of customer deliverables and in the time away from my family. It took it’s toll, so sadly, after a few months, I decided that the consulting partner life wasn’t for me.

Before I head into the next part of my journey, I want to make clear that working for a Salesforce partner and gathering all that experience from highly skilled peers was one of the best things that could have happened to me Salesforce career. Not only did I learn detailed techy dev stuff, but best practise, approach and discipline. Surround yourself with smart people, because what they have is catching.

Something completely different

So what next? Well, I spent another year with a Salesforce end-user, but with a difference — they were making an outward-facing product based on Salesforce and wanted a Product Manager. I can do this, I thought — my Salesforce knowledge and a innovation-led product? I’m up for that.

Working away from the tech again, directing others to do the development, I found it frustrating that the standards drummed into me as a Salesforce partner weren’t being upheld by other developers. Mix that with a lot of office politics and egos and you’re doomed to fail. Next!

Living happily ever after — I hope

By now you could forgiven for thinking “this guy is a serial job-hopper” and I was starting to worry about that myself. When out of nowhere, came the job I’d always promised myself. Let’s run a little checklist here :-

  • 9–5 hours, no evening and weekend working
  • No work phone, no work laptop — when you leave the office, you leave work
  • No direct reports to manage
  • More money, less stress
  • Nice fairly new Salesforce org to make your mark

When talking to the recruiter, I couldn’t help thinking “what’s the catch?”, but honestly, over a year down the line, there still isn’t one. I’m rediscovering my love of Salesforce and my confidence with it. I have time to re-engage with the Salesforce Community at user groups and other meetups. My employer is on board with sponsoring certifications (we’re even cross-training and certifying some of the other dev team members that have come across from Microsoft .Net).

Rediscovering the Salesforce community is on the brink of a massive payoff too — I’m inspired by hearing about the great volunteer work of other members of our Ohana, so in the New Year (which starts tomorrow — wow!) I’ll be trying to work alongside Salesforce to get more traction for a UK version of their VetForce program.

Stay tuned folks — I have a feeling we’re only just getting started here.

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