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Think back to your 18-year-old self. You’re out of high school, expected to continue your education, and feeling excited about adult life. Now, imagine if you were faced with two choices: attend a four-year university with your friends, or get an internship in a technology you’ve never heard of. Which would you choose?

This was the ultimatum Paarth Jolly’s father gave him when he graduated from high school in India: go to college or learn Salesforce (while attending classes on the weekend). After more than two decades in technology, Paarth’s father knew there was a long and prosperous future to be had in new and emerging tech. So, in July 2014, Paarth created his first developer’s org to begin exploring Salesforce. He earned badges in Trailhead and took classes in various programming languages, including C, C++, and Apex.

Three months later, Paarth knew he was ready to take his first Salesforce certification exam — and was shocked when he failed.

 

Finding Success After Failure

 

“Certifications are based on real-life scenarios,” he said, “and I didn’t have any experience.” Ever the optimist, Paarth redirected his efforts toward getting a summer internship, and later a full-time Salesforce developer position. “Working there for some months clarified various business scenarios for me and how to apply Salesforce capabilities to address different situations.” Paarth attempted Salesforce certification again and passed.

Now, at just 22-years-old, Paarth has four certifications and, just last month, launched his own consulting firm based in India, called Your Virtual Experts. I spoke with Paarth to learn how he turned his initial failure into so much success, and what lofty goals he’s working toward next.

 

As you started to learn Salesforce, how did you know that you made right decision?

Initially, I was very nervous because I didn’t have an IT background. But as I learned, I was amazed to see that Salesforce is less about customization, and more about configuration. That really excited me and brought me closer to the product. But I got really excited when I realized I could solve for business requirements in just a few clicks. Ever since then, I’ve been hooked.

 

How did you get over the hump of failing your first certification exam?

I believe that failure is a signpost of life, guiding us to the right path. Failing the test helped me realize how important hands-on experience is. That experience was the first step toward landing a job.

 

How has the Trailblazer Community, or “Ohana,” contributed to your journey?

When I first started, I attended a meetup for the New Delhi Salesforce Developer Group. I left feeling totally inspired, and with the help of Madan Khichi and Atul Gupta, I got involved as the co-leader of my local developer group in Chandigarh, India. I think that makes me the youngest developer group leader in the world!

As far as the global Salesforce Ohana, I connect via Twitter and my blog to other Trailblazers all over the world. Amy Oplinger and Tom Blamire have both been instrumental in connecting me with others and getting me more active on social media.

 

You are already so accomplished at a young age. What’s next for you?

I recently launched my own consulting company in January 2018 to provide services to Salesforce clients worldwide. It’s my hope that more and more individuals learn about Salesforce, its technology, career opportunities, and scope. I feel strongly that Salesforce training should start in high school so more youngsters can join the community and serve the world. In the future, I hope to be able to hire high schoolers — and high school dropouts — to help get their careers started with Salesforce.

 

How do you define being a “Trailblazer?”

To me, a Trailblazer is any person who turns out to be a champion in his or her life despite personal and professional challenges. I’d advise anyone getting started with Salesforce to learn as much as you can. Use Trailhead, user groups, and the entire Salesforce Ohana — they are valuable resources.

To follow along on Paarth's Salesforce journey, check out his personal blog here. And if you have an inspiring Trailblazer story to share, we want to hear it. Tweet us @salesforce using the #BlazingTrails hashtag.

This article is part of an ongoing series highlighting the many voices and stories that make up Salesforce’s diverse community of Trailblazers.