How John Schaaf Reinvented his Career with Trailhead

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Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast we’re speaking with John Schaaf, Salesforce Admin at MDLIVE. Join us to hear John’s amazing story about learning a new career after a significant injury and the program that made it all happen.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with John Schaaf.

John’s Amazing Story

John had a life-altering motorcycle accident in 2006 in San Francisco. He wasn’t at fault, but his injuries left him on disability until 2013, when he was finally well enough to be able to go back to work. He started driving for Lyft while trying to find a new job in tech, but after seven years his skills were out of date.

John realized he needed help, and after a couple of years of being ignored by employers, he found Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) of the Bay Area. He initially came in to do basic things— update his resume, update his Microsoft Office skills, etc.— but within months he found out about a special Salesforce Admin training program. “When I heard that, the hair on the back of my neck went up,” John says, “because the more I found out about what a Salesforce Administrator did, the more it seemed to be who I could become and what I could become.”

At JVS, John was enrolled in a 3-month program with full time, instructor-led training. All 20 people in his class took the certification test and passed with flying colors. The success of this first class has carried over into the next four classes as well. The program was funded through a Department of Labor job training initiative, which made everything possible.

A Business Analyst for Business Analysts

“Being able to look under the hood of any system is a privilege,” John says. As an Admin, you get to make an impact by bridging the gap between business analysis and technology, and that means you get to make big contributions that have a major impact on how things get done.

John’s experience in Financial Services and the Healthcare Industry have been incredibly helpful when it comes to helping his users refine their specifications. “Part of the job is being a Business Analyst to our Business Analysts,” he says, “one of the questions we have to ask ourselves when we get a request to modify Salesforce is “Why is this request being made?” Admins need to think about the overall architecture of Salesforce, and how a request will affect everything in the long term.

Salesforce as an Equalizer

Looking to the future, John is clear about his vision: “I want to be an advocate for the idea that Salesforce can be an equalizer for people who may have been in a position like mine.” There are so many tools available to help people help themselves by learning Salesforce, and it’s so in-demand that it can really change lives.

John sees Salesforce as a powerful agent for social good, a way to give people who may be marginalized and unable to get hired for any number of reasons the means to lift themselves up. His story is proof that it’s possible, and he’s looking for ways to share it with the world.

For more insights, make sure to follow John on Twitter (@johncschaaf).

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