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Swapping Retirement for Life as a Salesforce Pro

Swapping Retirement for Life as a Salesforce Pro

At the age of 68, Stephanie Rhodes realized that retired life wasn't for her. Find out how she challenged herself to learn about new technology and why continuous learning is important.

At the age of 68, I decided retirement just wasn’t for me. 

After 14 years of reading, cooking, and golfing, I needed a brain challenge. And Sudoku wasn’t going to cut it. Before retiring, I specialized in business development management for large system integration companies. My technical background convinced me that I could challenge myself to learn new technologies even though it had leapfrogged over me. “What the heck is SaaS?” I wondered. (It’s Software-as-a-Service as I soon discovered.)

A family affair

My daughter, Vicki Sorensen, was (and is) a Customer Success Director for Salesforce. She would talk about the platform all the time. I was intrigued. Could this be the challenge I had been looking for?

With the help of Trailhead, I started on my Salesforce journey. I spent an average of three hours per day, three to four days a week over about six months learning everything I could. My study habits were a bit rusty, but I persisted. I didn’t even tell my daughter what I was doing at first as I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to grasp the concepts.

But as I became more comfortable with the differences between Profiles, Permissions and Roles, and when I could truly understand the Sharing Model, I decided to let her in on my little secret. Her biggest question was, “Why?” To her, my life seemed perfect just as it was. To be honest, I felt my brain was wasting away and learning Salesforce gave me a reason to get my day going.

#CertifiedPro? Yes, please!

In October 2017, I sat for my Salesforce Administrator exam. I wanted something to show for all the studying I had been doing!

As it turned out, my test day was scheduled a few days before Hurricane Irma was due to arrive on the shores of Southwest Florida, just miles from my home. But I was determined — I wasn’t going to let a little hurricane stop me.

As my husband was moving our furniture off the porch to prepare for evacuation, I was taking my exam online in our dining room via webcam. Again, I didn’t let Vicki know what I was doing, worried that I may fail. And fail I did. Choking back the tears, I called and told her. She assured me that many people fail the first time around and it was just all part of the learning experience.

As for Irma, our neighborhood was severely damaged, but our condo was fine.

It wasn’t until December that I plucked up the courage to try again. I brushed up on the areas I didn’t do so well in the first time — and I passed. I couldn’t quite believe it, I was now an #AwesomeAdmin! I surprised Vicki and her family by proudly displaying my certificate when I picked them up at the airport for their Christmas visit.

Opportunity knocks

With my new Salesforce credential, it was time to go back to work. Hertz had recently moved their corporate headquarters to Southwest Florida. As a large Salesforce user, this seemed like the perfect place to submit my resume. Networking helped pave the way, and I was hired as a Salesforce Administrator.

But hang on, I was retired. Did I really want to get up at 5:45 am each morning and drive to an office? The answer was, YES I really did! How great to be my age and have this incredible opportunity. In April, I celebrated my first year with Hertz. And I couldn’t be happier.

My new role has provided me with so many learning opportunities. I studied for and earned my Advanced Administrator certification. I was even able to attend Dreamforce ’18 giving me the chance to meet some of my #SalesforceOhana heroes.

I can admit that I was a little star struck. Hollywood celebrities couldn’t have excited me more. I bumped into many MVPs and even met Gillian Bruce (I’m a regular listener of her Admin Podcast) and was in awe. I truly felt the love and support as everyone whole heartily welcomed me to the Trailblazer Community.

I often rely on the community for advice and people are never too busy to help.

Life’s setbacks

Just when I thought life was progressing exactly the way I wanted it to, my husband was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer in January 2019. Little did I know how much Salesforce would keep me sane. The community gave me tons of support throughout this ordeal. The kindness and caring of the #SalesforceOhana will stay with me forever.

Although there’ll be some chemo this summer, the doctors feel he will beat the odds.

It’s not over till it’s over

I will be 70 this year and don’t plan on slowing down. I continue to set goals for myself and plan on becoming a Trailhead Ranger soon and earning my Platform App Builder, Sales Consultant, and Service Consultant certifications.

I aim to keep working for a long time and hope I never lose my zest for continuous learning. And when my daughter bought me a Trailblazer hoodie, it was the Best. Present. Ever!

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