Giving back is second nature to Khyati Mehta. During her busy undergraduate years, she always made time to volunteer with an NGO that worked with underprivileged children.

And like any other student, she was also on the lookout for a good job as she pursued an engineering degree. When Cognizant came to her campus looking for Salesforce developers, as someone who loves to keep learning, Mehta was determined to pick up new skills. She steadily made her way through the weekly badges and certifications on Trailhead.

Sure enough, Mehta was picked for a Salesforce Developer role at Cognizant. Not content to stop there, she continues to learn from Trailhead communities.

The ethos of paying it forward in the Trailhead communities resonated strongly with Mehta, who draws inspiration from it in her daily interactions. Here, she shares with us how she had an opportunity to live by these values.

How did you help the youth in your community during the Covid lockdown?

KM: When we went into the first lockdown in 2020, I kept myself busy upskilling on Trailhead and acquiring as many certifications as I could. For this, I received merchandise like T-shirts and bottles now and then. The daughter of our domestic help was attracted by this swag and wanted to know why I received them.

When I explained to her that learning how to use Salesforce would help her not just receive gifts but maybe even get a stable job, she expressed an eagerness to learn. I immediately offered to help her. A couple of young men who were the children of the dhobi in our community heard about this and asked if they could attend the sessions as well. Three of my neighbours who were commerce students also decided to join to sharpen their technology skills. And that’s how we got started.

What were the main challenges you faced while conducting these sessions? How did you overcome them?

KM: The youngsters who came from an underprivileged background did not own laptops. My neighbours and I made a few arrangements, as well as shared our equipment with them. Since they had very little exposure to technology, I first taught them how to use laptops and encouraged them to explore on their own.

They were quick to learn and within a month, we started everyone off with Salesforce on Trailhead. We started with basics such as the Track your Trailblazer Journey app, and now, I’m proud to say that they can handle more complex builds, such as Automation Rules. Since most of these students were more comfortable with Hindi, I would conduct the sessions using a mix of Hindi and very simple English terms like ‘row’, ‘column’, ‘field’ and ‘table’.

Some of them did find it difficult because it was all so unfamiliar to them. It was challenging for me as well as I needed to take out time from my work and study schedule to dedicate time to this initiative.

What were the outcomes of this initiative?

KM: Two of the youngsters I coached expressed an interest in pursuing a career using Salesforce. I reached out to a few companies and am very happy to share that they are both placed in firms today as Salesforce Admins.

One of the young men who is from an underprivileged background had no certificates or marks cards to show from his academic career. So he was asked by his prospective employer to get Salesforce certifications. I helped him by getting some vouchers from the Trailhead community so he could get these certifications.

Today, the two people I trained build workflows and handle approval processes in their jobs. They do need guidance from their supervisors and come to me for help as well. Rather than giving them the solutions straight away, I guide them in the right direction, so that they can build their problem-solving skills.

I feel gratified that they are securely employed in well-paying jobs. This might not have happened if they hadn’t trained on Salesforce.

Tell us about the Salesforce Women in Tech group for Kolkata and your role in it?

KM: The group has two objectives. One is to give women access to a wider professional network for career growth. I sometimes feel being part of such a group when I graduated would have made my career kick off sooner. The second goal is to bring awareness of, and train the Salesforce community in Kolkata on the wide range of Salesforce capabilities. You could compare it to an offline Trailhead community where we learn and grow together.

I am now the leader of the Salesforce Women in Tech group Kolkata and have started off this year’s calendar with talks by women IT leaders who work on Salesforce across the country. I have many events and surprises lined up and we are all quite excited about it.

Being a fatherless child, I have always felt the pressure to take on my family’s financial responsibilities. Salesforce has helped me do that. The Trailblazer Community is amazing and we constantly lift one another up. My goal? Salesforce has helped me and motivated me to be who I am today, and I would love to guide other aspiring Trailblazers in the same manner.”

Interested to know more? Join the Trailblazer Community and connect with fellow Trailblazers here.