In this article, Michelle Hansen shares her thoughts and experiences on mentoring. Michelle is an 11x Salesforce certified MVP and Sr. Salesforce Administrator. As a Community Group Leader, presenter, and active member of the Trailhead Mentorship program, she is passionate about helping the next generation of Salesforce Trailblazers succeed.
I learned about the Salesforce community the hard way. I pretty much tripped and fell into a Salesforce role in 2014 after the company I worked for was acquired. I had no background in technology, having graduated with a degree in Leisure Studies and worked in various administrative roles. I stepped into a Solutions Specialist role and soon became an expert on one of the new company’s software solutions. It was during this time that I was first introduced to Salesforce as a user. A couple years later, I was tapped on the shoulder and asked if I wanted to help our Salesforce Admin on a part-time basis, and I happily agreed. I knew Salesforce was a great product, but it wasn’t until 2018 when I attended a Salesforce conference in San Francisco, TrailheaDX, that I truly began to understand the full scope, inclusivity, and overall awesomeness that Salesforce and the Trailblazer Community embodies. The rest, as they say, is history.
Mentorship is about “paying it forward”
Over the years, I’ve benefitted from both formal and informal mentor relationships. Every event, interaction, and new connection has helped me learn and grow in my career as a Salesforce Admin.
In 2019, I found the Trailblazer Mentorship Program and immediately signed up to be a mentor. While I expected this to be a way for me to give back, I was surprised by how much I got out of the experience as well! I was matched with a group of mentees on March 11, 2020. Two days later came the announcement that we would start working from home, effective immediately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Working with this group of mentees helped me stay connected amidst the increasing isolation of working from home. It gave me a scheduled time where I could talk with other people who had similar interests and passions, and truly helped me adjust to the new environment I found myself in. Over a year later, I’m still working from home and more than ever appreciate the interactions these scheduled meetings provide.
One of the most unexpected things I’ve also realized about being a mentor is that it has also helped enhance my skills. They say the best way to learn something is to teach others, and in preparing for meetings with my group on specific topics, I’ve enhanced and deepened my understanding of these topics as well. Additionally, I’ve found that being a mentor is quite similar to being a supervisor or a manager — so there’s the added benefit of learning leadership skills that, no doubt, will help prepare me for that step in my career.
A mentor can help advance your career
Over the past 14 months, I have formally mentored 10 people, and nothing makes me happier than seeing the success stories of my mentees unfold. It warms my heart to hear that our mentorship relationship played a part in helping them flourish and reach their full potential. Let me tell you about a few of my mentees now — can you tell I’m very proud of them?!
Sandra Prieto — I met Sandra through the Trailblazer Mentorship Program. We talked about her goals and interests, and she revealed that she had a passion for the nonprofit sector. As part of our mentorship, I challenged her to become active on Twitter — just 5 minutes a day — and helped make some introductions to others in the Trailblazer Community. Fast forward 1 year, and she’s not only co-leading a group for Community Sprints but also part of the planning committee for the inaugural Nonprofit Dreamin’ event!
Navid Mudassir — Navid was looking for his first job in the Salesforce ecosystem. We discussed his career goals, the types of roles that might interest him, and how to prepare for interviews. After several months of job hunting, I had the opportunity to connect Navid with a friend in the Trailblazer Community whose company happened to be hiring. As a result of that connection, Navid is now working as a Salesforce consultant!
Kelly Michael Skelton — I met Kelly in 2019 while volunteering at Dreamforce. What started out as me answering a few questions about process automation has now turned into a friendship with, what I like to call, a healthy dose of unofficial mentorship! By making myself available to answer questions, provide support and encouragement, and offer advice based on my experience, Kelly has gone from having zero certifications to earning five certifications — all within 6 months! Now that’s impressive! Plus, he’s become more comfortable building flows and successfully implemented several complex integrations at his company.
My mentees’ successes are not only inspiring to witness but also help increase my network of qualified Salesforce professionals as they grow and pursue new avenues and opportunities within the ecosystem.
Salesforce Admins of all levels can benefit from mentorship
Over the past year, what struck me the most is that being a mentor didn’t require anything “official” on my part. I wasn’t in a management position at work, I wasn’t a Salesforce MVP (I am now — YAY!), and I don’t have an advanced degree. Even though there’s still plenty about the Salesforce Platform that I don’t know, I’m still able to help people. Not just as a “formal” mentor, but also in more informal ways that are disconnected from the official mentorship program. I was able to take the research I did on interview preparation and turn it into a presentation for Jyothsna Bitra’s ImpactForce series. I’ve presented at Dreamforce, TrailheaDX, and community Dreamin’ events. I’ve also been invited to speak (virtually) at several Trailblazer Community Group meetings across the country. In addition, I answer questions on the Trailblazer Success Community, and I’m writing the blog post you’re reading right now! None of it required anything “official” on my part — just a willingness to be open and honest about my journey, a strong desire to connect with and support others, and, most importantly, the knowledge that my unique experiences have value and are worth sharing.
I guess it all boils down to this: Everyone you meet has something to teach you if you’re open to it. Being a mentor gives me the opportunity to teach others, but I also learn from my mentees. It allows me to build the connections that are truly the heart and soul of the Trailblazer Community. Giving my time and energy has given me so much more in return than I ever imagined.
I encourage you to check out the Trailblazer Mentorship Program and look for ways to get involved in the Trailblazer Community — it’s a rewarding way to pay it forward.