In this article Salesforce Certified Technical Architect and MVP, Jitendra Zaa, discusses the five steps that helped him on his #JourneytoCTA.
1. Get a CTA Mentor
First of all, you need a CTA mentor throughout your journey. On average it can take between 6-18 months to nail a CTA exam. The Salesforce Ohana is extremely helpful, I asked many CTAs to become my ‘mock judge’ and almost 90% of the responses were positive. The remaining 10% wanted to help but they were all over-occupied.
However, let’s be realistic, you can’t expect the same person to be your mentor throughout your whole journey, which is why you need to approach more then one person.
Back in 2018 when I attempted the CTA certification, I tried my best but still failed the exam miserably. I couldn’t find a full-time mentor and therefore joined Flow Republic in December 2019.
I still remember my first mock with Sebastian Wagner, Founder of Flow Republic, I was overconfident and thought that I knew a lot about Salesforce. However, the kind of questions that were asked to me, made me realise the mistakes I made in 2018 immediately. The CTA exam is not about how much you know, it’s about how you deliver your thoughts in a timely and effective manner. For the next 18 months, I spent most of my time working on my communication and soft skills.
2. Get Study Buddy
It’s a long journey and it’s very easy to get lost in personal life, project workload, etc. You need someone who can push you to the edge and keep reminding you that you have to climb the mountain. I was fortunate to have a study buddy who was as dedicated as me and a hard worker. Waruna and I met in 2018 at a Ladies be Architect mock, and later coincidently we were part of the same batch of mentees at Flow Republic.
Later, Waruna and I expanded our group and added a few more study buddies. This helped us get a different perspective and added more challenges to our preparation.
3. Build knowledge gap and action plan
The next important step is to work on areas where you are not comfortable. Example – CPQ, Field Service, Salesforce Maps, LWC, Lightning Scheduler, etc. It’s not that easy to identify your knowledge gap. I listed around 20-25 topics and then did my first mock with friends. In each mock, I was asked something that I didn’t know. I took that opportunity and kept adding items to the gap list.
I created a Trello board organised by month and kept moving topics from my ‘gap list’ to ‘month column’. In this way, I was able to track my effort of each month and keep track of all my notes in one place.
4. Join CTA community groups
In the last year, I have seen some extremely good CTA study groups. Join those groups and contribute to each other’s success. Huge shout out to the people who organise these groups!
If you are seeing more people passing the CTA exam, these groups are one of the reasons.
Benelux Group – This group asks some good and tough questions in mock exams. This group also runs some unique sessions like Agile workshops etc.
Melissa’s Group – This group focuses more on Salesforce platform knowledge. They meet on alternate days and discuss the latest and greatest topics about the exam. This group also runs mock dry runs every Saturday & Sunday.
CTA Study Group 1111 – This group also focuses on building a knowledge base and they meet once a week, mostly on Saturday.
Apex Hours – Apex hours has some unique content around the CTA exam. Videos related to Marketing clouds came in handy in my preparation. There are tons of videos from CTAs like Carl, Mitesh, Karishma, etc.
5. Decide Tools
Another important aspect is how you are organising your materials whilst preparing for the CTA exam. You need to make sure you are able to revise your notes in the last 2-3 days of the exam and in order to do that, you need to use proper tools, like…
- Google Docs – Good for creating a single cheat sheet document for all CTA topics
- Trello – Building knowledge gaps and action plans for each topic. After each topic, adding a comment with a link to the relevant Google docs or YouTube videos
- YouTube – Private YouTube videos to record hands-on. This is an important activity as it’s easy to forget your hard work after few months. You can watch these video while having your dinner or going to the gym
- Lucid Chart – For everything diagramming especially mind map
- Quizlet – Get paid version for 1 year and build your flashcards. Revise them once a week or every night
The journey is as much important as CTA certification
I can proudly say that even before passing the CTA certification, I could see the difference in my professional capability. I started following the same format of the CTA exam in my actual project. In each meeting, I started putting myself in the shoes of clients and what they want, why they want, and what is a better way to achieve requirements.