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So when I was approached a couple of months ago by my practice leader asking if I’d study and take the Salesforce Platform Developer 1 Certification Exam I said “Sure, why not”
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My Saturday schedule is going to be turned upside down for the next couple months as I study for my Salesforce dev certification 🙃(and start working on a blanket for an autumn baby). . This is the first time I'm pursuing a certification and to be honest I'm a little nervous (it's all self-guided and I don't know anyone who's passed the cert). Hopefully the study materials they provide are actually enough 🍀🤞🏻
What is Salesforce?
Salesforce as a product is a Customer Relationship Management tool. From what I’ve seen – at a basic level – it provides a user interface for tables in a database and allows you to not only do read/write operations, but create complex processes around the data (like only allowing certain people to view certain records, or sending out emails based on certain criteria). The use case I’ve run across most frequently involves selling products or services to customers and the process that a customer has to go through to get to that final purchasing point; the interface is simple enough that a sales rep can be trained in how to use and customize it without having to learn how to be a “developer”.
So why would a developer learn and get certified in Salesforce?
The platform allows you to create custom widgets for viewing and manipulating data. As a developer, the mechanism for these interactions is very similar to Java, HTML, and SQL, but with a special Salesforce-twist to it. The languages have their own syntax, their own development environment, and their own way of making things work.
Salesforce also has API endpoints that you can integrate with a custom application. Even if you don’t want your customers to use the interface, you can still take advantage of the horsepower and processes behind it.
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#SalesforceSunday 🙌 I have three modules left on the formal Salesforce Dev Cert recommendation list but a few more weeks before I’ll be ready to take the exam – we finally talked to someone last week who’s actually taken the cert exam (and didn’t pass); still not sure if that makes me feel more or less prepared . (Also, the 2nd best thing about hosting friends is having the option to work from a totally different bed than normal)
How do you study for a certification?
Salesforce has a handful of different certifications and has a very clear study plan for all of them in a free online book that you can find here. You don’t have to be certified to work with the Salesforce technology, but as with all certifications, it does give you some credibility.
Salesforce provides both free and paid training. I stuck with the free training that they provide online and avoided the paid classes which seems both time-consuming and expensive. They call the different free training modules “Trailheads” and there’s a different trailhead for each certification (or in some cases there are multiple trailheads). At the end of each section there are multiple choice question “practice tests” or projects. Pay particular attention to those, as they might show up later on the actual exam.
I was working a full 40 hours/week on a client during this time, so I took aside time on the weekends to study for the certification – usually averaging between 3 and 5 hours a week. At that pace I finished it in almost exactly two months (if you don’t have other obligations you could definitely finish it faster). By the time I walked into the exam room, I was nervous but also felt confident that I’d either know it or I wouldn’t and more studying probably wouldn’t help me.
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Today’s #SalesforceSunday is devoted to learning Visualforce (which is their version of HTML && XML) and packing for our Thanksgiving holiday 🍁 . This’ll be my first Thanksgiving at home in 6 years and I am so excited for my family’s classic recipes (pictured: a cookbook my mom helped put together when I was still in grade school)
What is the exam like?
For the Platform Developer 1 Certification you can see the technical details here – but at a high level:
- There are 65 questions that cover the Developer Beginner Trailhead course
- A passing score is 68%
- They’re all multiple choice, with some of them asking you to choose two or three options – I assume there’s no partial credit on those questions
- You have a little over an hour and a half to complete the test (though honestly I didn’t spend that long in the room)
- The exam costs $200 the first time you take it (a lot of people don’t pass initially), since mine was mandated by my company, I get reimbursed for the cost
In Dallas I went to a testing center to take the exam (you can find the exam sites and schedule online); this is my first certification so I had no idea what to expect. There were lots of security cameras so you couldn’t cheat and it felt a little bit like a middle school computer lab, except with cubicles so you couldn’t see anyone else’s screens and everyone was definitely over the age of 14. They had small lockers to put belongings in (I was grateful that I didn’t bring my computer bag), and the staff was nice but had obviously already seen at least 30 people go through there by 9am on a Saturday and weren’t really looking to engage in friendly chit-chat.
I got my results as soon as I clicked “submit” and there was a moment of panic where I thought there was a chance I’d failed everything or the computer would malfunction or an apocalypse would strike and I’d be prevented from passing my exam. Luckily, my weekends of studying paid off and I passed! I didn’t get a perfect score, but I did well enough that I feel confident moving forward.
So is this going to be your entire job now?
No way, Jose. While I’m sure this certification will mean that I get more opportunities to work with Salesforce, it’s not my entire life. I enjoy custom development way too much to totally give that up.
As a consultant it’s my responsibility to learn the technologies that our clients interact with on a day-to-day basis. Salesforce is a CRM platform that has proprietary languages and applications behind it that make it a great choice for a lot of businesses. If you want to take the certification exam there’s a very clear training curriculum to insure your success; make sure to study, but it’s not the SAT.
If you’ve had any adventures with Salesforce, their certification process, or other certification processes for comparison, I’d love to hear about your experiences!
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Because my content tends to be generic (“I did a thing”, “here is a computer”, “check out this dog”) – it makes for good content for amalgamation accounts that have specific themes (ex: “girls on computers”, “computers”, “dogs”). When I know I’ve been reposted I like to save that post so I can see which posts are reposted most frequently and respond to any questions. This means that people who don’t normally follow me see my pictures and captions without any context; I was going through my saved posts today and came across this
- “Babe, take a picture of me with this computer so strangers on the internet give me more attention than I already get and I can pretend to be a nerd cuz that’s the cool thing to do now.” – richard_saturday
My first instinct was to be really defensive (I’m pretty sure that’s any person’s first instinct when a random person makes assumptions about you/your life). Then I took a step back and thought, “Wait, this is an illustrative moment, this is actually perfect.” If you have a presence that people comment on and you’ve run into this – these are just a few things to keep in mind.
1. Sometimes people online have very little self-awareness
Most of the people I interact with online are delightful human beings. The best part of being online is that you can choose what you want to look at based on your interests. If you’re not interested, you don’t have to look at it. The @dvlpr.u account is an account that mostly reposts photos of computers and people on computers. It reposts a lot of photos of female developers, including a lot of my photos (the above photo was not the first or last photo that they have reposted of me).
This guy obviously assumed that the photo was “fake”, but he was commenting on an account where this kind of photo is typical. That’s on him.
2. Strangers on the internet do not fact check before commenting
I laughed a little when I actually thought about his comment because none of it was true. I’m going to annotate it just for kicks:
Babe, take a picture of me¹ with this computer so strangers on the internet give me more attention than I already get² and I can pretend to be a nerd³ cuz that’s the cool thing4 to do now
- I’ve had people ask before because they honestly want to know (heck, I don’t even know how some Instagram accounts do it). I happen to use a self-timer and tripod.
- (A) It’s my computer and (B) this picture was taken as part of a promotion for DevSlopes iOs tutorials, I quite literally got paid for this picture
- I am paid to do custom software development 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week, every week of the year – I’m not a nerd, I’m a developer
- People have been saying “being a nerd is suddenly cool” for years now and everyone needs to stop. Society values attractiveness, and it values intelligence, and it values passion, but oftentimes it’s in very different arenas. There are people who only respect other people if they’re smart to the same degree, if they’re attractive in a certain way, if they’re passionate about the same thing, there is no single “cool” thing.
When you’re in high school it was easy to identify true trends because high school is a small, isolated, ecosystem (hence, the ‘cool crowd’). If you’re not in high school (and aren’t an anthropologist) and you tell me that people are “faking” lifestyles because it’s “cool” I’m going to assume that you’re just bitter about something.
If his point was that “social media is absurd” then I totally agree with him, because getting paid to take photos in my pajamas on a Saturday morning is totally absurd, but it’s also kind of absurdly awesome.
3. Sometimes comments are the reason why you should continue posting
This is less about generic Instagram and more about what @jonesdoeslife has turned into as a whole. For those of you who aren’t in the tech industry, I’ll try to keep this high level:
- In terms of developers, the industry is 4-10% female
- This leads to a lot of weird phenomenon, like people saying “Oh my God, but you’re a girl” when they find out you are a developer or being labeled as the “Girl Developer.” This kind of treatment is unnecessary and ridiculous as my gender doesn’t impact my technical ability. You wouldn’t say:
- OHMG are you really a male psychologist?
- Wait, you’re a female physicist? For real?
- Sometimes people assume girls who are in technology got there through affirmative action/because the bar was lowered for them
- Sometimes people assume that ladies are weaker coders and don’t belong in technology
If the commenter in question had just said “Oh man, she just wants attention so she’s posting a picture of herself developing” I still would have thought he lacked self-awareness since he’s on a social media platform, but would have understood his mindset. But he didn’t say that.
His comment was about how ridiculous it was that a girl would pretend to be a developer and how he “saw” right through that.
I work with a lot of great people (mostly men) who value my intelligence and ability to perform, and they aren’t the people who need to see a picture of a woman programming. It’s the people who treat female programmers like mythical animals and make a big deal out of my gender being able to type on a keyboard who need to be exposed to the idea that what we’re doing isn’t special (over and over and over again).
If you’re a content creator: Before throwing some serious shade – did I use that word right? – at an offensive comment on Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, or wherever you write, remember that strangers don’t know anything about your life and they don’t need to. Hopefully their ignorance can fuel you to keep doing whatever you’re doing in the hopes that someday people will be less ignorant.
If you’re a commenter: Maybe, don’t. I’m a big fan of, “If you don’t like it, don’t follow it.” If other people also don’t like it, then the person/thing will never gain traction. If the person does gain traction, then the only person your comment will expose to ridicule is yourself.
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