Learn how all-star track and field athlete Amanda Ouedraogo used dedication, endurance, and hard work to launch a new career in IT with no previous tech background, and how you can do it too.
After close to a decade of training and competing as an elite track and field athlete, I set out on a new journey: building an equally successful career. It took some time and trial and error to pursue my passion for technology and find my path as a Salesforce Consultant.
I discovered Salesforce through a series of networking and professional development opportunities, and I was intrigued. I immediately felt drawn to the community within the Salesforce ecosystem and how Trailhead, Salesforce’s free online learning platform, offered an interactive and fun way to skill up.
Both of these resources helped me build my expertise, land a new job, and move forward in my new IT career journey.
Taking the leap into IT
While training as a competitive athlete, I attended a university business education program in Paris, my native city. I also received a scholarship to study at a university in the U.S., which is where I began to discover the world of tech.
I didn’t think of myself as tech-savvy or envision having a career in IT at all!
But I didn’t take the IT leap quite yet. I didn’t think of myself as tech-savvy or envision having a career in IT at all! So I completed my degree in communications in the U.S. and worked as a digital communications manager in a few roles there and back in Paris. It was a great way to build my professional experience.
After working several years in communications, I still felt the pull to explore the world of tech. So I joined ParisCode, an initiative and community within the Salesforce ecosystem that supports training and employment for aspiring tech professionals. Through ParisCode, I learned more about the digital ecosystem in Paris and gained access to tech-related resources, training, and community support.
Skilling up and connecting
Trailhead was pivotal in helping me get started in tech. It’s such an inviting platform and makes learning so much fun. I started to complete badges on many topics and build my business and technology expertise, learning everything from the Fourth Industrial Revolution to EU Privacy Laws.
It was through skilling up and leveraging community programs…[I] learned to love work as much as I love track and field.
During this time, I was also accepted into a Salesforce Consultant Training program developed by the enterprise non-profit, Social Builder. I’m currently working toward becoming a Salesforce Administrator and Platform App Builder to complete the program.
It was through skilling up and leveraging community programs — ParisCode and Social Builder — that I landed my current role as a senior IT business analyst and digital project manager at Capgemini, and learned to love work as much as I love track and field.
My five tips for future Trailblazers
My journey is about committing to a goal and cultivating the necessary expertise, experience, and community to support and propel me forward as I set out on a new path.
Here are a few tips to supercharge your success.
- Take the leap.
I always recommend to others looking to make a career change, or build up their tech expertise or experience, to just take the leap! There’s no magic potion for success. It’s about hard work and staying 100% committed to your goals and journey. Even if you make mistakes along the way (and everyone does) or it doesn’t work out exactly the way you think it should, it’s an experience from which to learn and grow.
- Go all in.
I always say, “Where the mind goes, the body follows.” If you have 100% resolve to turn a goal into reality, you’re more likely to take continuous, committed action to make it happen. So, whatever your goal is for your career journey, commit to it completely.
- Practice consistency.
I didn’t become a title-winning athlete overnight. It took consistent training and dedication to my technique to make this happen. The same was true when I launched a new career path. I worked consistently, dedicating myself fully to this goal. Create a plan for how you’re going to show up for yourself every day, to move one step closer to your career aspirations.
- Hang with Trailhead, a lot.
Make Trailhead a big part of your action plan! I spent at least 6 hours a week skilling up on Trailhead when I was building my expertise and preparing for certs. That sounds like a lot, but Trailhead’s gamified platform makes learning fun and engaging. Trailhead is also something I keep coming back to, so I stay updated on the latest innovations and grow my expertise for my current role.
- Connect, connect, connect.
I still keep in touch with members of the ParisCode community. It feels like a family. We supported one another and grew together as we set out on our tech journeys. It’s so nice to have a group of people you can relate to and rely on for help and guidance. I also ask questions on the Trailblazer Community when I need help tackling a new challenge.
Ready, set, evolve
Throughout my journey, I’ve learned that lasting success comes from a commitment to continuous growth. The tech industry is constantly moving forward. To keep pace, you, too, need to embody this constant evolution.
For me, this means I’ll keep skilling up on Trailhead. I want to learn as much as possible about the Salesforce Platform, including more about Marketing Cloud, Commerce Cloud, and the Salesforce Industries cloud portfolio. More growth means more opportunities — so get out there, skill up, and keep evolving.
Check out my favorite resources!
- Trailblazer Community Groups:
Salesforce Women in Tech Group, Paris, France
Salesforce Admin Group, Paris, France
- Trailhead trailmix: Build Your Admin Career on Salesforce
- Trailhead trail: Get to Know OmniStudio
- Trailhead project: Build Your First Application with Lightning Web Components Open Source
- Trailhead module: European Union Privacy Law Basics