The Practical Computer Scientist: Getting Started as a Salesforce Developer

Want to begin a career on Salesforce, but have no idea where to start? In this post, I share my Salesforce journey of how I learned to develop on the platform. I adhered to the Salesforce credo to learn, earn, and connect.

TL;DR: here’s my getting started Trailmix.

How I began my Salesforce journey

I love this photo of my friend and me at Dreamforce. We had just completed the Developer Challenges and won giant Astros! Of course, my career didn’t begin this way. As a computer science graduate, I knew a lot of stuff when I started my career, but I didn’t know about Salesforce.

I was a job-hunting machine during my final year of college. I explored many career paths and started hearing about this thing called Salesforce. The platform sounded intriguing, so I opened my first free Developer Edition and created an app.

Here is my first app (which I updated to Lightning Experience with a click, by the way). With an object, a few fields, and a snazzy report, I had an app that let me quickly see the roles I had applied for and keep track of my progress in the interviews.

 

Clicks first, then code

My first app helped me understand the power of the platform, but I had just scratched the surface.

I accepted an offer at a Salesforce shop, and my first step in my new job was to immerse myself in the “click” aspects of the platform. I dove into validation rules, discovered Process Builder, and navigated the waters of helping end users customize email templates. Most importantly, I learned how to collaborate with the team that spent their whole day on the configuration side of the house, the Salesforce admins.

My next assignments came directly from business users wanting extra functionality or a specialized look and feel. I jumped right in to pair programming Apex with some of my more senior teammates—yay Java background! Then I took my limited knowledge of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and threw myself into various Visualforce pages. I messed around with formatting, sizing, and style.

It wasn’t long before I caught the Lightning bug and helped my entire organization migrate to the new Lightning Experience.

Earning and connecting

Since I graduated college, only 2 years ago, a lot has changed in technology (have you seen Path, Process Builder, and SFDX? All new!). Keeping up with the constant change is challenging. There’s always a new language, method, framework, or way to do the same thing you did yesterday. By using Trailhead, I can get ahead of my colleagues and friends without feeling the need to read days’ worth of technical jargon.

To kick-start learning about all things Lightning Experience, I used a combination of trails, projects, and superbadges. Here is my Lightning Experience migration Trailmix. Spoiler: It includes the Lightning Experience Specialist superbadge. I made all of my development colleagues unlock and complete this superbadge. It was challenging and extremely helpful; completing it meant that we would have a shared base of knowledge to use to communicate with each other.

The community support was a big part of how I made my Lightning Experience migration journey successful. While networking before a developer Meetup, many of us lamented over the amount of work it took to update JavaScript buttons. Our mood turned from distress to excitement when someone asked, “Why are you migrating them all? Are all the buttons being used?” We knew they were right, migration was a great opportunity to clean up our system! This new attitude inspired me to change my migration strategy, focusing more on cleaning up the system and streamlining processes while migrating functionality. That community interjection spared me from spending many days updating JavaScript buttons and other parts of Salesforce that we weren’t using anymore.

Parting thoughts

My path isn’t going to be your path, but hopefully my story has given you the inspiration to get started and make a journey all your own. I’d love to know about your path with Salesforce development, let me know what you are up to in the comments or by Tweeting @SlytherinChika.

Heather Dykstra
Developer Evangelist, Salesforce
@SlytherinChika

Related links

Starting a Salesforce Developer Career Trailmix: https://trailhead.salesforce.com/users/00550000006whkdAAA/trailmixes/starting-a-salesforce-developer-career
Migrating to Lightning Experience Trailmix: https://trailhead.salesforce.com/users/00550000006whkdAAA/trailmixes/migrate-to-lightning
Validation Rules Trailhead Module: https://trailhead.salesforce.com/en/modules/point_click_business_logic/units/validation_rules
Process Builder Trailhead Module: https://trailhead.salesforce.com/en/modules/business_process_automation/units/process_builder
Email Templates Trailhead Module: https://trailhead.salesforce.com/en/modules/service_casefeed_basics/units/service_casefeed_basics_email
Get Started with Apex Trailhead Module: https://trailhead.salesforce.com/en/modules/apex_database/units/apex_database_intro
Lightning Experience Specialist Superbadge: https://trailhead.salesforce.com/en/super_badges/superbadge_lex

 

Published
September 12, 2017

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The Practical Computer Scientist: Getting Started as a Salesforce Developer