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Trailhead Family Competition Sparks Teen's Salesforce Career

Trailhead Family Competition Sparks Teen's Salesforce Career

Success Cloud offers Trailhead modules for anyone who wants to become a Salesforce expert with always-on, free, and fun tutorials.

What started as a heated Trailhead competition between five family members has laid the foundation for a promising Salesforce career for 18-year-old Zach Harris. In four short months, Zach has gone from recent high school graduate to Salesforce Certified Admin and Salesforce Ranger.

After graduating from high school, Zach had time to consider his career plans while waiting to gain state residency for college in North Carolina. Having parents with successful Salesforce careers spanning nearly 20 years, Zach was interested in exploring opportunities with Salesforce but wasn’t sure where to get started. His parents, Jennifer and Bill, encouraged him to get more hands-on practice by using Trailhead.

Trailhead is Salesforce’s free online learning platform. It has hundreds of short, self-paced tutorials that allow anyone to learn Salesforce admin skills. Upon completing a tutorial or “trail,” users earn badges and points. Ambitious learners can become a Salesforce Ranger — Trailhead’s highest rank — if they earn 100 badges.

“I knew Trailhead was hands-on, and there were trails for the Salesforce Admin Certification,” said Jennifer.

Zach enjoyed Trailhead but found himself lacking momentum. As his parents encouraged him, they realized they should be more active on Trailhead as both had goals of becoming Rangers. Jennifer decided to raise the stakes to impress upon Zach the value of Trailhead.

“Let’s make this a family competition!” she said.

There would be two teams — Team North Carolina and Team Texas — and the winning team would earn both bragging rights and $150 (just to make things interesting). Team North Carolina was Zach and Bill, who is director of implementation at Salesforce partner Cloud Performer. Jennifer roped in her significant other Randy and Austin, their 14-year-old son, for Team Texas.

Immediately, the smack-talk flowed nonstop over text message. The family drew a line in the sand and created a scoring system. Every badge earned one point, and every 1,000 points on Trailhead earned one point.

Zach had a self-described “slow start” because he was doing longer, more technical trails to study for his Salesforce Certified Administrator credential. He expressed concern to his mom that he was going to have to carry Team North Carolina as his dad was busy with work. Jennifer phoned Bill to tell him that he needed to set an example for Zach and participate, only to realize later that Bill had been secretly knocking out trails and easily earned 42 badges on the first day of the contest.

“Game on!” Jennifer said as she rallied Randy and their son. Randy spent several evenings until midnight on Trailhead, eager to help Team Texas get ahead.

Zach worked on Trailhead for several hours a day, quickly boosting his technical skills. He enjoyed the virtual Salesforce playground on Trailhead because it made learning easy. “It was really cool to code things, and then see it play out on the screen,” he said.

The college-level courses he had taken in high school didn’t offer the hands-on experience of Trailhead. He found that no matter your level of experience, Trailhead offers tools for everyone. “There is so much to learn, and Trailhead goes very deep into Salesforce.”

At the end of the one-week challenge, Zach and Bill of Team North Carolina emerged victorious! However, there were benefits to everyone who participated. Jennifer expedited her Ranger status and gained hands-on experience with CPQ features that she didn’t have access to in her Salesforce admin role. Randy, who was unfamiliar with Salesforce, said he gained a better understanding of the platform. Austin even worked on the Administrator trail. Jennifer and Randy both agreed that Trailhead is a great mechanism for teaching kids about business and more technical skills.

Even Salesforce veteran — and now Ranger — Bill picked up new skills. “There are modules and trails on the newer Lightning experience, and it was interesting to learn more,” he said.

Shortly after earning his Ranger rank, Zach passed his Salesforce Admin Certification. He and his parents also attended Salesforce’s World Tour in Atlanta. He now shadows Bill at work and is active in Cloud Performer’s certification study groups to prepare for more certification exams. As Zach decides the next move for his career, he’s confident that what he’s learned on Trailhead will pave new career paths. “I wish I started on Trailhead earlier because there’s so much to learn, and it’s interesting and pretty fun. I have more opportunities than before.”


Thu Pham

Thu Pham is a marketing manager on the Success Cloud team at Salesforce. Her mission is to ensure great stories (and customers) get their time to shine in the spotlight. A former educator, she continually strives to tell stories that teach and inspire. A native Texan, she is now based in San Francisco. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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