In 1999, when Salesforce was founded, I was in my seventh year of service in the U.S. Army. Little did I know, 16 years later I would join the Salesforce Ohana as a proud member of VetForce, and put myself on an entirely new path to become a Salesforce Admin.


After 12 years in the Army and almost nine years teaching Database Applications at Central Texas College, I knew I was ready to take my career in a new direction. Around the same time, I got connected to the Salesforce community through an old high school friend — none other than Stephanie Herrera, Salesforce MVP, founder of Salesforce Saturday, and co-founder of Austin Girly Geeks.


Where it all began


In 2014, I went with Stephanie to the inaugural meeting of Austin Girly Geeks. She was starting this movement to empower women in tech and I wanted to be there to support my friend. But I was incredibly shy and at first wouldn’t speak to a soul other than Stephanie. She forced me out of my comfort zone and told me not to come back to her until the end of the meeting so that I would get to know other people.


Misty and Stephanie at the Austin Girly Geeks inaugural meeting.


And well, it worked!


Next thing I knew I was going to Salesforce Saturday, making friends, learning a lot, and feeling more intrigued in Salesforce by the week, but I was still nervous about fully committing to a career change.


One of the first few Austin Salesforce Saturday meetups.


What finally pushed me over the edge was VetForce, Salesforce’s job training and career accelerator program for military service members.When they came out with their first Admin classes, I immediately signed up. After just one class I knew for sure that Salesforce was my future. I called Stephanie and told her, “I’m quitting my job!”


From idea to app to Admin


Soon, I had my Admin certification and a whole lot of passion, but zero real-world Admin work experience. I wasn’t going to let that stop me though, and this is where my love for dogs comes in. As a volunteer and board member for local dog rescue, Justice4Mutts, I knew I could do real good for them with Salesforce there. (Real good besides fostering that is — I’m already a dog mom of five. What can I say? When I foster dogs they just end up staying.)


Matty loves his blanket!


So I took the leap and spun up my first ever non-profit Salesforce instance. My first order of business: streamline animal tracking and volunteer communication. With over 15 volunteers on different schedules, our running group text was getting out of control — important updates would get lost among all the chatting and joking.


Just a few weeks later our tracking app was live and all our volunteers had adopted Chatter as their main form of communication regarding rescue-related updates. Immediately, day-to-day operations at the rescue became more streamlined and organized. The best part? I also made myself marketable and helped one of my favorite causes. Before I knew it, I had secured a full-time job as a Salesforce Admin in addition to my volunteer Admin role at Justice4Mutts.


Blazing trails, one app at a time


In 2016, I attended my first Dreamforce, which was, in a word, magical. When I returned the following year with VetForce, I was inspired by all the motivated people I met and the innovative things they were doing with Salesforce. That’s when I found and attended Camp Innovation, where I dreamt up a new app for Justice4Mutts. The app would give volunteers visibility into a very important part of their work: vet visits.


Here’s a look at my Camp Innovation experience:


It’s important to know that for a rescue like Justice4Mutts, getting veterinary care for the animals is a complex process. Only a few vets are approved and there is an extensive amount of documentation necessary to authorize care. Without any visibility, volunteers would regularly take dogs to the vet only to find out paperwork or funding was missing, or it was the wrong vet altogether.


Thanks to Camp Innovation, I already had a framework for the app when I returned home to Texas. With the declarative building power of The Lightning Platform at my fingertips, I brought the app to life in less than a day.


Before the app, we’d get at least a couple of complaints a day from volunteers about issues at the vet. Now, I’m surprised to get more than one or two a week.


It’s been just three years and my passion for Salesforce — the product and the Ohana — continues to grow every day. Most recently, I was honored to be asked to present a session at TrailheaDX on the app I built for Justice4Mutts. If you had told me three years ago that now I’d be up on stage at a Salesforce event talking about an app I built, I’d have said you were talking crazy. But it really happened and here’s picture-proof:



Paying it forward


More than anything, I wouldn’t be where I am today without VetForce. When I was just starting out, they empowered me and gave me the tools to learn. Now, I’m always looking for ways to pay it forward, to empower and enable other veterans and their spouses to learn Salesforce.


I’m currently working on a new non-profit instance called “Texas TailBlazers” that will be completely built by veterans and their spouses, allowing them to gain hand-on experience with Salesforce. It will also directly benefit veterans by assisting the disabled and elderly, and those with special needs with getting basic care for their pets. I’m excited to bring this vision to life in the coming months!


In it together (#Ohana)


With Salesforce there is always more to learn, new ways to create, optimize, and streamline processes to make organizations function better. It truly fulfills both my creative and analytical sides. The best part? You’re not in it alone. The Salesforce Ohana is like nothing I’ve experienced before, and the people you meet along the way become your friends, mentors, teachers, and advocates.


I still feel like my Salesforce journey is just beginning! I love what I do and couldn’t be more excited for what’s to come.


If you’ve been thinking about a career change, or just want to grow your Salesforce skills, I hope my story will encourage you to take the next step. Take that admin class, get on Trailhead, connect with your local Trailblazer Community, attend a Salesforce Saturday, or all of the above! Take it from me, there’s a whole Salesforce world out there waiting to help you blaze your own trail.


This article is part of an ongoing series highlighting the many voices and stories that make up Salesforce’s diverse community of Trailblazers and is based on an original piece published on The Trailblazer.