Blanca Leon-Carter has always been passionate about technology, but if you told her years ago she’d one day be a tech industry veteran with more than two decades of experience and hold an MBA, she might not have believed you.
Blanca is just one of many people who leveraged Trailhead, Salesforce’s free online learning platform, and the Trailblazer Community to build a career in the technology industry. Today, she works at Slalom, a top Salesforce consulting firm, and is a Salesforce MVP. Ahead of DreamTX 2020, a Dreamforce Trailblazer Experience, we spoke with Blanca about her journey into the Salesforce ecosystem and her advice for others pursuing a career in tech.
Q. When did technology first pique your interest?
Blanca: As a teen, my family didn’t own a computer. Few people around me discussed technology. When my mother and I visited a tech-savvy family friend who worked in IT, my interest was piqued when I saw him working on a computer. I asked him questions about the technology he was using and over time he became a mentor to me, even giving me an old computer — the first one my mom and I had in our home.
I jumped in and began designing invitations, trying new programs and exploring creative ways to use these mysterious machines. I became so passionate about technology that a high school teacher recommended I attend an academic enrichment program that would allow me to earn credits toward an associate degree while still attending high school.
I jumped in and began designing invitations, trying new programs and exploring creative ways to use these mysterious machines.Blanca Leon-Carter
Q. How did you embark on a career in the technology industry?
Blanca: I always knew I wanted to earn a bachelor’s degree, but after high school I had to adjust to a new reality: when I was 19, I had my first child and had to adapt to the new responsibilities of being a teen mother.
Being raised by a single mom myself, I felt determined to succeed at school, work and motherhood. After graduating from high school, I enrolled in a Computer Information Systems bachelor’s program. I was one of few people in my family to go to college, so we all felt a sense of excitement – but I also felt anxious about going back to school while working full-time and raising a family.
With much patience and determination, I graduated with my bachelor’s degree – and even went on to earn a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA).
Q. What inspired you to learn Salesforce skills?
Blanca: For 19 years, I worked for a non-profit organization and wore many hats. I started working there as a Program Associate and over time took on more and more responsibilities. I became the Network Administrator and eventually the Director of Operations & IT, managing all technology across the organization.
In 2018, something unexpected happened: the non-profit I worked for experienced a change in leadership that did not align with my personal or career goals. I decided to leave my job, but wasn’t sure what my next role would be. I knew I wanted to develop new skills while seeking job opportunities, so I started skilling up on Trailhead and taking a 10-week “Intro to Apex Code” course with Rad Women, an organization dedicated to increasing the number of women in technical roles.
Trailhead and Rad Women introduced me to a new world of career possibilities within the Salesforce ecosystem and inspired me to explore Salesforce consulting.
How did Trailhead and Rad Women help you on your journey?
Combined with my passion for learning new technologies, Trailhead and Rad Women helped me master Salesforce – and do so quickly. In just 18 months, I earned three Salesforce Certifications, developed specialized skills in the platform and began sharing best practices with the Trailblazer Community.
In just 18 months, I earned three Salesforce Certifications, developed specialized skills in the platform and began sharing best practices with the Trailblazer Community.Blanca Leon-Carter
Today, I’m a Salesforce consultant at Slalom and the VP of Community Engagement at Rad Women.
Q. How has the Trailblazer Community supported you through COVID-19?
Blanca: When the pandemic hit, I had just started my new job as a Salesforce consultant at Slalom. I was adapting to a new company, a new remote environment and new technologies – and at the same time, many of my family members who were frontline workers fell ill with COVID.
The Trailblazer Community and the Rad Women team immediately reached out to help with everything my family needed. They offered to drop off meals, buy my family groceries and schedule food delivery services. This outpouring of support reminded me of just how much good humanity can do for one another.
In one sentence, what advice would you give someone starting on their Salesforce journey?
Blanca: Approach your journey with an open mind, take on new challenges, gain hands-on experience and share your passions with the Trailblazer Community.