Be a Change Maker with Shonnah Hughes, Selina Suarez & Rakia Finley

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Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast we’re talking about what our amazing Salesforce Admins and Developers are doing to create more entryways for more people of color in tech. As our guests, we have Shonnah Hughes, a Salesforce MVP, mentor and women in tech chapter leader; Selina Suarez, a Product Manager at Salesforce and advocate for education equality; and Rakia Finley, a CRM and Salesforce Developer and the Chief Strategy Officer at Surge Assembly.

Join us as we discuss some of the amazing things our Salesforce Admins and Developers are doing to encourage diversity and bring more people of color into tech. Learn how Shonnah Hughes is using Trailhead to teach Salesforce to students in her community and how Selina Suarez has partnered with Monroe College to create Salesforce Bootcamps. You’ll also get the inside scoop on how Rakia Finley worked on the Obama administration’s White House Council on Women and Girls to help create more pathways for women of color to get into tech.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Shonnah Hughes, Selina Suarez, and Rakia Finley.

 

Engaging students with #Trailhead4All.

As Shonnah explains, #Trailhead4All is a community-based initiative that provides Salesforce training via Trailhead to youth in her local community. “It’s a call-to-action for all community members to reach out and give back to their community utilizing Trailhead,” says Shonnah.

“I took that call-to-action personally. Who doesn’t love Trailhead? It’s an amazing tool. It’s used by everyone in the community and makes learning Salesforce easy and fun,” she says.

As Shonnah explains, #Trailhead4All has had a huge impact on her life. “I’m able to go into local classrooms and talk to them about my career, my journey, my path and how Salesforce Trailhead can help them as well. Being able to see the looks on their faces, the joy and the fun they’re having while learning is priceless,” she says.

 

Partnering with Monroe College to create Salesforce Boot Camps.

When asked why focusing on technology and college students so important to her, Selina says,  “my passion comes from the fact that I grew up in the inner city of New York City. I came from an area that no one I knew went into technology. I wanted to change that and give people who had the potential a blueprint.”

She’s partnered with her alma mater, Monroe College, to create Salesforce boot camps. As Selina shares, “last year, we did a two-day full immersion boot camp where used the user group community in New York City and Salesforce employees, and we created a curriculum that did a couple of different things. First, we focused on: what Salesforce is, the ecosystem, what kind of skillsets you need, and what kinds of jobs are out there.”

“Next we went through Trailhead to show them how to build an app from beginning to end,” she says. As Selina points out, “If you’re going to use social media to grow your career you need to be where your industry is. We ended the two days by having LinkedIn come in and tell the students how to leverage social media to grow your career.”

 

Be intentional about making diversity a priority.

While it’s crucial that we partner with elementary, high school, and college students, it’s also important to partner with government entities. Rakia Finley worked on the Obama administration’s White House Council on Women and Girls to help create more pathways for women in color to get into tech.

While she saw lots of amazing initiatives that targeted students, she felt something was missing. “The companies that were going to hire these people, they weren’t prepared for this workforce. They didn’t have true institutional knowledge of how they can create an inclusive workforce, how they can create checks and balances to make sure that inclusive workforce is founded on equality and inclusion. I wanted to be a part of educating them on that,” says Rakia.

When it comes to the technology world, Rakia says, “our managers, our CEOs, it’s still not an inclusive environment. We’re still not seeing that diversity. How do we get them involved? We partnered with the Obama administration and a number of amazing organizations, and asked these tech companies to make a pledge of inclusion and equality.”

 

Understand where your passion lies and where you can be of benefit.

When asked what advice they’d give people who want to be change makers, Rakia starts by saying, “part of getting involved is understanding where your passion lies and where you can be of benefit. Because of my passion and the community I belong to, I work a lot more with people who hire, CEOs and business owners on how they can make that pathway for women of color.”

Shonnah encourages community members, “don’t be afraid to lean in, reach out, be uncomfortable and go into spaces where you wouldn’t normally be. That’s where you’re going to see the most amount of change within others and yourself.”

Selina adds, “All of this is outside of our normal 9-5. You have to do something that makes you excited. You have to carve out the time and resources. I look for other people who are just as passionate as I am because they’re going to work just as hard as I am.”

For more insights, make sure to follow Shonnah Hughes (@SaaSy_Sistah), Selina Suarez (@SelinaSFDC), and Rakia Finley (@RakiaMC) on Twitter..

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