July 22 | Blogs
Swapping Work Boots for House Slippers: How an Ironworker Became a Salesforce Admin
Estimated read time 6 min

My path to becoming a Salesforce admin at Delegate wasn’t a straight route by any means. In fact, I majored in biochemistry in college. I fell in love with biochemistry at that time and even did some cancer research as an undergrad. I really thought that’s where I’d be headed in life. 

After graduation, I tried to find work as a lab technician out of Chicago but the job market was tough and the average wage for a lab tech was low. This career path wasn’t going to help me pay off my college debt. 

My father, an ironworker for 28 years, helped me get into ironwork out of college. The wages were three  times what a new lab technician would make. This was a great opportunity for me to pay down college loans and become self-sufficient. 

Six years later, I was married and had my daughter — all while being a journeyman. The thing is, my line of ironworking required a lot of mill work. I was coming home at night completely filthy and covered in black. The equipment I worked with was massive, making it a dangerous job. 

Buckling down for something better

Now that I had a daughter, I tried to make a big push to get into something less dangerous. I was introduced to Salesforce shortly after I became a journeyman, and it stuck with me. I started off learning with Trailhead and quickly fell in love with solving puzzles and using the other side of my brain again. With Salesforce, there’s always a new puzzle I can solve that really benefits someone. 

For the next two years I continued ironworking and spent every night I could studying and teaching myself how to be a Salesforce admin. I even found some internship positions to really dive in and start learning on the job. Soon, I was ready to branch off into my own freelancing work. 

I could never have done any of this without my wife and her support. We spoke about how to make the jump to full time Salesforce work. She made some difficult sacrifices for me and our family. I really attribute my success to her. Teamwork makes the dream work–100% correct in my situation. 

When I was eventually laid off, my wife supported us so I didn’t have to focus on finding my next job right away while I was studying. During this time, my son was born and life was really hectic. My family became my driving force to keep going. 

In addition to my family, I attribute my success to my passion and enjoyment for solving real world problems brought to me through Salesforce. In my other jobs and career paths, things were always very physically labor intensive. Today, I really appreciate how easy my job is now. I enjoy every day. It doesn’t hurt that I no longer have to spend hours a day in a hole at 100 degrees heat. 

“The best decision I ever made was trading my work boots for house slippers.” 

Using my experience to be the best Salesforce admin

I may not have come from a traditional tech background, but the skills I learned as an ironworker have served me well as a Salesforce admin. The most significant being my competency and approach to project management. 

Ironworking projects are multi-million dollar ventures. Each one has hundreds of contractors, each bringing their own unique skill sets and personalities, and needs to be well coordinated to accomplish a job safely and on time. 

I use my project management experience daily when consulting with stakeholders to achieve their goals, on time. It requires planning ahead for any unforeseen holdups from other parts of their business, and then prioritizing correctly. There will always be the unexpected, so my plans must account for this without falling behind schedule.  

My diligence and grit when figuring out difficult problems is an important foundation. I’m constantly learning and honing my craft so that I can perform better and faster on the next project. The ability to find a solution to an issue, where no solution existed before, has been invaluable. 

In both ironworking and consulting, there are many situations where I understood the starting point and had a clear end goal. How we reached that goal however, is often unknown. As a Salesforce admin, I frequently work with messy instances and have to use all my tools and knowledge to pull it apart and remake it into something organized, efficient, and powerful. 

Converting short term clients to long term clients 

The projects I’m most proud of were the ones where I was learning as I was working. These ones have stuck with me. Getting through these big puzzles was really hard and then, suddenly, I’d figure it out and things would get easier. 

There’s one project in particular that I’m very proud of. We had a client who acquired another company, a direct competitor. Both of their Salesforce instances were messes filled with every custom field you could imagine. As competitors, they still had the same goal in mind, just with completely different ideas about how to achieve it. 

As part of Delegate, I was hired to manage a 2 month project on their data migration. When I started, their Sales Ops leader had been hired only two weeks before. They didn’t have a Salesforce admin so when she saw what needed to be done, she immediately started looking for full time help. It really seemed like it would be very hard to achieve. 

Even though I was the sole admin working on this project, I was able to get the entire data migration complete within those two months. I still work with this client a year later because I translated a temporary project into a lasting relationship. 

At Delegate, I’m still a consultant and sort of a freelancer in my own right. But the burden of wearing all the hats is gone. I can just be me, do what I’m good at, and let the other pieces get taken care of by those that are better at their jobs than I am.  

When I was hired by Delegate, I was in the last rounds of interviews with a few companies. I had told my wife that, if I didn’t get an offer now, I’d quit applying and try getting into the developer side of Salesforce. And if that didn’t work out, I’d go back to ironwork. Now that I’m with Delegate, I get to focus on solving puzzles every day. 

Doing the work I love

The driving force behind my success as a Salesforce admin is my burning passion to keep getting better. I want to get better than I was a week ago or even yesterday, for my own sake. Seeing my wife play such a big part in helping me pursue this career really motivated me. I needed to make this career work for her and my kids. Together, we made my dreams a reality.