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Q&A: Salesforce and SNHU Partner to Bring College Credit to Trailhead

Salesforce is committed to empowering future generations with the skills necessary to start and grow their careers in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Since launching in 2014, Trailhead, the company’s free online learning platform, has become a game changer for more than 1.5 million Trailblazers looking to develop new skills, plan for their next role or just pay the bills.

Today Trailhead is taking a giant leap forward in its journey to create more equitable career paths for future generations. Partnering with Southern New Hampshire University, Trailhead is opening the gates for Trailblazers to earn college credit by completing admin and developer badges – gaining skills that lead to top jobs in the Salesforce economy projected to create 3.3 million jobs by 2022.

To learn more about the news, we spoke with Sarah Franklin, EVP and GM of Platform, Trailhead and Developers at Salesforce, and Dr. Paul LeBlanc, the President of Southern New Hampshire University, for more details on the partnership, how students can get involved, and thoughts on the economic trends that will dictate the workforce of the future.

Q. What drew your teams together to form this partnership?

Sarah: Trailhead and SNHU are a DNA match in our shared passion for putting students at the center of a new kind of learning experience – one focused on real-world outcomes, not just graduation. This partnership is about empowerment at scale. We’re joining forces to pioneer new ways of engaging students with online, experiential learning.

Paul: SNHU is focused on treating learners how the best companies treat their customers – always connected so we can anticipate, meet and support their needs. While that “customer-centric” approach can be a foreign concept in higher education, SNHU has always worked hard to do that well. Working with Salesforce to talk about new ways to connect learning, college, and career success is a natural extension of that philosophy.

Sarah: It’s all about meeting learner needs. And for today’s students, there’s no greater need than learning the skills to fill the most in-demand jobs of a changing economy.

Q. How is recognizing Trailhead learning with academic credit a game changer for learners?

Paul: All of us – in society, higher education, and in business – need to do a better job connecting people throughout their lives with continuous learning experiences, and doing so in a format suited for the time. Getting ready for your career isn’t something you do exclusively between the ages of 18 – 22. (In most cases, it never was.) Industry and higher ed can’t be siloed anymore. We have to work together to offer hands-on application of new knowledge while providing validation for learners in a way that speaks to employers.

Sarah: Higher ed began with schools creating degrees that served as pathways to the professions of the time: lawyers, doctors, accountants. In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, technology companies are creating new professions that require new pathways; the Salesforce ecosystem alone is creating millions of jobs for people who are Salesforce admins, developers, architects and more. It’s the joint responsibility of industry and higher ed to create pathways to these careers and leverage technology – like Trailhead – to bring people forward into this new world.

Q. How does this partnership benefit both Trailhead learners and SNHU students?

Sarah: Salesforce and SNHU are focused on putting learners at the center of a modern learning experience they can’t get anywhere else. Not only can SNHU’s students study and work hard knowing the skills they learn will lead to tangible outcomes, but also they’re now part of a community – the Trailblazer Community – that will keep them engaged on a lifelong journey of learning and growth.

Paul: This is a great way for Trailhead learners to get credit for their work and apply it towards a college degree by becoming a student at SNHU. And it’s a great way for existing SNHU students to learn through hands-on work and save some tuition money along the way.

Q. Is Salesforce helping place these students?

Sarah: Absolutely. Just a few months ago we announced Trailblazer Connect, a hub of career resources that points learners towards career fairs, connects them with mentors, and surfaces their resume for recruiters. Several hundred students have already been placed within the Salesforce ecosystem of customers and partners building on the Salesforce Platform.

Q. How can people get started?

Paul: Any Trailhead learner can apply to enroll in a SNHU degree program and have their Trailhead badges evaluated for credit towards one of over 100 undergraduate degree programs. Any collection of 100+ Trailhead modules completed for either the Admin or Developer role, along with a Superbadge, will count as a 3-credit Experiential Learning course at SNHU. The credit can be applied as a major elective for applicable IT-related programs or as a free elective towards many of the degree programs we offer. Current and future SNHU students can work on Trailhead modules at any time; just ask an academic advisor for help applying the right credit towards their program and their transcripts.


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