Elizabeth Bochanski on Starting Learning on Trailhead


Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to Elizabeth Bochanski, a newly-certified Salesforce Admin and MidAtlantic Dreamin’ Volunteer Committee Member. Join us as we chat about prepping for your first Salesforce certification and why in-person networking is so important.

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

Taking the leap and becoming a Salesforce Admin

Elizabeth was working in sales for a mortgage company when they announced they were switching over to a new platform: Salesforce. While many of her coworkers were grumbling about having to change their routines, Elizabeth was excited about all the ways this new technology could make their lives easier. She started making suggestions and, without knowing it, became a power end user at her organization.

During the pandemic, when everyone was stuck at home, Elizabeth happened to be hanging out with her cousin who happened to be an admin. Together, they sorted out an issue she was having in her org. That’s when Elizabeth realized that maybe she should pursue this admin thing more seriously.

How to make studying a hands-on experience

At TrailblazerDX this year, Elizabeth dove into the Camp Quick Start area. It was exactly what she was looking for because, as she was studying for her certification, she had realized that hands-on learning was key for her. “Going into learning Salesforce, you need to have an idea of what way you learn,” she says.

For Elizabeth, one thing that really helped was to get into an org and do things while learning about them. “When I was taking a practice test and got a question wrong, I would go and find the answer within the org,” she says. She also highly recommends finding a study group for shared motivation and support.

The importance of in-person networking

Going forward, Elizabeth has her sights set on getting better with Flow, understanding security, and diving into Object relationships. She’s also thinking about what comes next, like getting the Platform App Builder and Business Analyst certifications. She already has experience working with admins on business processes from her time as a power end user, so it’s a logical next step.

The other thing that Elizabeth emphasizes is the importance of networking. And not just virtual networking, but in-person events. It’s how she met her mentor, and how she ended up being a guest on the pod. You never know who you’re going to run into at a live event, and where a chance meeting might take you, so put yourself out there.

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Full show transcript

Mike Gerholdt: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast, where we talk about product, community, and career to help you become an awesome admin. And this week we’re talking with Elizabeth Bochanski. She is a sales professional turn Salesforce professional and volunteer committee member for Mid-Atlantic Dreaming. Now, she was introduced to me by a fellow Salesforce employee at TrailblazerDX because she was getting started on her admin journey. And boy did she really lean into using her time at TrailblazerDX to kind of learn more and supercharge all of her information that she needed to get that admin certification, which she emailed me shortly before we started to record that she had passed. So congrats to her. I thought it was important to get somebody on that was, boy, just fresh and getting started to hear their perspective and give us some insight into learning as well. So with that, let’s get Elizabeth on the podcast. So Elizabeth, welcome to the podcast.

Elizabeth Bochanski: Thank you so much for having me, Mike. I’m pretty excited about this.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. Well, I feel like we crossed paths at TDX, but a faithful friend and companion of the Salesforce ecosystem, Becky Webster connected us and told me about some of the amazing stuff you were doing over in Camp Quickstart, and, “You’ve got to talk to this person, Mike, that was literally the words she told me. So here we are. We’re talking now. Elizabeth, why don’t we get started and have you introduce yourself and tell everyone how you got into the Salesforce ecosystem.

Elizabeth Bochanski: Sure. So my name is Elizabeth Bochanski. Nice to meet you all. I guess you could say that. I am a salesperson turned Salesforce professional. I had been introduced to Salesforce in my last in-person job working as a mortgage loan advisor. A lot of other people’s like same kind of story. What happened was I was part of the purchase team, which happened to be a smaller team compared to the refinance one. And they wanted to use us as a test group, and they had someone come in and explain what Salesforce was going to do for us. And right away I was smitten. I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is fantastic.” And it was funny because a lot of my coworkers are like, “Oh goodness, something else to learn.” And I’m looking at them, I’m like, “You all are nuts. This is fantastic. This is going to make our jobs easier.”

And I wound up diving headfirst into it, learning it, and getting my hands in it as an end user. I was offering suggestions to, who I didn’t know then, but know now, were the admins and they were clicking these little buttons and making things happen for me. And I was so excited, writing up meeting notes on the weekends, kept a lot log of bugs and wishlists, and eventually I was brought into meetings. And with all of this, I didn’t realize it, then I found out just this past fall, I had turned into a power end user. Now COVID happened. Okay. And I wasn’t working with Salesforce anymore. I was hanging out with my cousin on the couch who had become an accidental admin at her job, and she was stuck on a pick list.

And I’m like, “Let me take a look at that.” And I poke around a little bit and I was able to help her figure it out, get out of the issue that she was having. And she’s like, “Elizabeth, you have to go for this admin certification.” My cousin Stephanie. I was like, “Okay, all right, I’ll go for it.” And it was a path, and I’m very happy to say I earned it about a week and a half ago on March 27th.

Mike Gerholdt: Wow, okay.

Elizabeth Bochanski: But I’m just so excited about Salesforce because of the opportunities it’s opened up for me. I never really thought that I could get access to the technology world or working with executives or anything like that with my previous experience. And I’m just so excited for all the opportunities.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. Now what’s interesting is a lot of people that I talk to and myself included, came from sales and became Salesforce admins, and who knows where the stars will take you, but what do you think it is about having sales knowledge that somewhat flattens the curve for ramping into becoming a Salesforce admin?

Elizabeth Bochanski: Definitely an appreciation for the capabilities that an admin can bring to a Salesforce org. And the reason why I say this is a lot of salespeople are dealing with antiquated customer relationship management software. I’ve dealt with plenty of them over the years in all different kinds of jobs, to then be presented with this platform that could be customized. I will tell you, I was really content in my sales job. I was helping people get into homes. I enjoyed it. My brain absolutely lit up thinking about business processes and ways to make things more efficient. And for people who are like that in a sales job where they hone their skills, that is where I believe being a Salesforce admin would possibly be a path they’d want to consider.

Mike Gerholdt: So fast-forward to TrailblazerDX, which was earlier this year in 2023, and you kind of dove headfirst into our Camp Quickstart area to do… I would call it accelerated learning maybe. What up into that point had kind of been your learning path? Were you just doing some modules here and there, or did you have a plan?

Elizabeth Bochanski: So my Salesforce learning, it was a little bit longer, I think, than maybe some, and then shorter than others [inaudible] to each individual. What I started out with was actually the Trail Virtual Bootcamp. And it is good. It wasn’t necessarily the best fit for me. I really needed something where I needed to be a little bit more hands-on, and I will even say this, going into learning Salesforce, you need to have an idea of what way you learn. And it took me… And it’s why it took me a little bit longer, I think. I needed to figure that out myself because this was the first time I was doing a career change where it wasn’t within a structured program with a job that I was already in. I had to do this myself and didn’t have people I could turn to for questions for everything. Anyway, as I was going, yeah, I did Trailhead, I used some other resources that are out there.

You just need to search for them. And I’ll do a… I’m planning to write up an article myself, personally, on my experience from start to finish. People could check that out later and that’ll be coming soon. What I’ll say is I focused… Especially within the last six months on practice questions, I focused on getting my hands a little bit more in the org while I was studying was a big help because then I was able to visualize it. I’m a very visual and hands-on learner. And… Well, if you could get yourself a study group, I’d recommend that as well. That was another big component of mine that really helped.

Mike Gerholdt: Now, when you said understand the way you learn, can you kind of dive into that? Like what do you mean? Because I don’t know if I even know I understand the way I learn. Maybe most people don’t.

Elizabeth Bochanski: Yeah, that’s the thing, you need to figure out for yourself. I know some people are really good at studying the material and then they are able to know it. For example, when I started as a mortgage loan advisor, I had to get certified for that, and I would write out notes for all the steps that I did, and I would write them out while I’m doing them so that I could refer back to them. And then eventually it gets to the point we have some repetition after writing the notes, it sinks in. But with Salesforce, it was a little different, especially since with the admin, it’s a lot more expansive compared to some other certifications you could go for. It covers a lot of material.

And I found for me, going in while I am taking a practice test and I find that I had an answer wrong, I would go and find the answer within the org and play around a little bit in that section, get a little bit more familiar with it, things like that. And there’s others that are like me where… I forget… I had read about it. I think there’s four types of learners, but don’t hold me to that, please.

Mike Gerholdt: No, no, absolutely not.

Elizabeth Bochanski: But the ones that I know are visual, because it’s who I am. It’s visual and hands-on.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah.

Elizabeth Bochanski: And there is information out there, I just highly recommend looking into it for yourself because the thing about being an adult learner, a career changer, is you’ve been out of school for a while and going for a certification like this, you want to be prepared and you want to also be effectively using your time. And I got to hone in on that, fortunately, in my last leg. Also had a lot of support and everything, so it was… I earned every point on that test, Mike.

Mike Gerholdt: Yep, everybody does. Everybody does.

Elizabeth Bochanski: I do. Seriously though.

Mike Gerholdt: So looking at that and kind of thinking through… You’re learning, you’re building skills, where are you focusing? Are you focusing in a specific area? Are you focusing on a specific product or feature?

Elizabeth Bochanski: Yeah. Right now, I’m looking to upskill with my flows.

Mike Gerholdt: Okay. Oh, wow. Very ambitious.

Elizabeth Bochanski: Yeah. Yep. I always like to learn something new and to take on a new challenge. I’m also looking more into understanding security. And then I guess also just the object relationships, delving a little bit more in how they impact each other. Those are the three things in terms of, I guess you could say, features that I’m looking into. And then I’m toying with looking at either the platform app builder certification or the business analyst certification next.

Mike Gerholdt: Ah-huh.

Elizabeth Bochanski: Just because with my sales background, I’d say with the business analyst or even the consulting route, I think that can help play to some of my strengths to help stakeholders understand what it is that they’re buying into, like be that bridge of communication.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, I would selfishly… I mean, I would promote both of them, but the business analyst stuff is top of mind for me because I find too often people learn the technology and they can sit and look at a business process and they don’t know how to translate the two together into a solution. And that’s the glue, that’s the value. Because a lot of people can build stuff, but if it doesn’t improve the process.

Elizabeth Bochanski: Yes. And that’s why I’m sort of gearing towards that because as a power end user in a sales position, as a mortgage loan advisor, I had already experience in working on business processes with the admins. So that’s why I was like, “Yeah, let’s just play with our strengths here.”

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. So we know for sure, you did a lot of quick starts at TrailblazerDX-

Elizabeth Bochanski: Yes.

Mike Gerholdt: And you’ve done a lot of stuff in Trailhead. I want to… Sometimes that’s the narrative rightfully so. But outside of that, what are some of the other things that you’re engaging in to upskill yourself?

Elizabeth Bochanski: Well, the interesting thing, you don’t necessarily see a lot of training for what I think is really, really important, especially when you’re starting a new career, is to actually network. Until October of 2022, I barely touched my LinkedIn profile, and from then on I was fortunate to hop into a program that taught me about it, and then I had someone encourage me to lean into it a little bit more. And so I dove in and it’s opened up a world… It’s just moved me along so much faster than I thought was possible. And a lot of things like being on this show have happened because of this. I will say like besides the fact that yes, I am an extrovert, and I like to talk with people and whatnot, I just want to share that it’s in your best interest whether you’re extroverted or not, because I have introverted friends as well going through this, and they went for it themselves, and they were pleasantly surprised.

Well, I’ll just speak to one of them, her name’s Kathy in particular. She was nervous about it, but I had met her in a cohort and found out that she lived close by and I recommended she joined in per networking. That’s another thing besides virtual, in person. She came, she loved it. And I had actually asked her if there was anything she would share to another introvert if she wanted to come. And she said… Let’s see here, “I think with anyone who’s shy and a bit of an introvert, it takes that first step of bravery to really get started. You’ll be surprised by the community of folks and friends that will be cheering you on once you take that first step into an unknown to be known by others. You can do it.” So little encouragement from a fellow introvert. But what’s been really great is it’s true, it’s the community. I’ve really been leaning into it.

First virtual now in person. I go to user group meetings. I drive to user group meetings. I’ve gone to New York, I’ve gone to outside of Philadelphia, of course, in New Jersey, I’m eyeing DC. And I also got very involved in a conference. And I’ve met so many wonderful people who are so supportive through it, and I could turn to them for questions. I will say, it was wonderful having my study group that I had. The one thing though is you’re all on the same level. And I guess for people who are working in a Salesforce org now and are learning the job, I count them very lucky if they have senior members with them because they have someone to turn to. It wasn’t the case. And then as soon as I stepped out and really started to, like I say, in-person network, I can’t recommend that more than enough to anyone listening that’s looking to break into the Salesforce ecosystem.

Having these people in my life, it’s been a game changer, I guess is the way I could put it. I met my mentor, who’s Gina Marques, and she’s absolutely lovely. And I was so surprised because I actually turned to her to ask, “Hey, do you know of anybody who would be willing to help me because I just need someone to help keep me in check. Keep me moving along.” Right? And she’s like, “You know what? I just finished really with mentoring someone. She’s ready to be set free now. I’ll take you on.” I was like, “Oh, really? Oh my God. Okay.” And I was very fortunate when I first started, I was excited about going to the world tour in New York City, and it was going to be my first in-person event. And I posted about it, and I had someone who I had met in a mixer online, her name’s Vanessa Grant, who I absolutely love.

She said, “Okay, here’s the dos and don’ts.” She gave me a list when you go to an event like this. And then she’s like, “I’m going to introduce you to someone. Her name’s Michelle Hansen.”

Mike Gerholdt: Yes.

Elizabeth Bochanski: And she likes to collect-

Elizabeth Bochanski: Stickers.

Elizabeth Bochanski: Collect newbies.

Mike Gerholdt: And stickers.

Elizabeth Bochanski: Stickers.

Mike Gerholdt: [inaudible]-

Elizabeth Bochanski: Newbies and stickers. She likes to collect those too. So she’s like, “Why don’t you meet up with her?” And I did. And Michelle introduced me to a bunch of fabulous people. Michelle is the one who told me to go to the user group meetings for which I’m forever thankful. And that’s how I met Gina, and that’s how I got involved with a community conference. And it’s just been one thing after another, really. And I knew I would get involved in this stuff eventually, but at the rate that it’s been going, and… I mean, my TrailblazerDX experience was absolutely amazing. Going to that quick start camp that I did, I don’t know if people know, but when you go there, the quick start options that you have to choose from were just developer only. And I am was prepping still for my admin, and I hadn’t looked at a line of code ever. And it was so funny. I was looking through the list of options that I could choose from, and I saw lightning web components.

I was like, “Oh, lightning web components. I know that. It shouldn’t be too bad.” Turns out I probably picked one of the hardest ones I possibly could have. Fortunately, there was a village of wonderful helpers there, and they got me through it. And that’s what I just… It was so interesting to me because that experience at Camp Quickstart had such an impact on me because I got to see another role, the developer side. Got a little overview and I was like, “Wow, this was great.” And it’s what led me to just go back the next day and share some feedback with Becky who was more than willing to listen to me. And I’m so grateful for that. And I got… You know what I mean? When I got my astro, I was like, guys, “Let’s go.”

I was like, “I’m going to be back. We’re going to take pictures.” And we did. And it’s just… I will say, I like learning a lot. And then just to have that session on learning about lightning web components on the back end of the back end. Right?

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah.

Elizabeth Bochanski: It was just so cool. And I was so grateful because one of the helpers there, he was more on the developer side of things, and I started peppering him with questions that didn’t have anything to do with the badge. I was like… And he gratefully… I was so grateful. He just kept explaining things and I really got a great overview and I was like, “Oh.” It had such a lasting impact on me. Anyway-

Mike Gerholdt: Well, that’s great.

Elizabeth Bochanski: I’m sorry. I don’t know because I-

Mike Gerholdt: No, it’s okay.

Elizabeth Bochanski: I’m not sure if we’re still answering the same question here, but yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. So I guess as we wrap up, one thing I’d love to know is… And I’ll flip the script on you.

Elizabeth Bochanski: Sure.

Mike Gerholdt: If today’s Elizabeth Bochanski could go back in time to day one Elizabeth Bochanski, when you started this learning journey and give her a piece of advice, what would that be?

Elizabeth Bochanski: Just to go for it. The whole thing that a lot of people and myself included, that stops them from moving forward is doubt, fear hopping into the mind and just jumbling things up a little bit. It’s just push that aside a little bit sooner. But to be honest, I’m also a big believer in things happening when they’re meant to. And I think this journey that I’ve been on, although some might see it as having been longer than it should have been, or too short or whatever opinions that they may have, I really believe that it all happened the way it had meant to because it grew with each step that I’ve taken. And I’m just really shocked at where I’m at now, and I can’t believe what I’m going to be feeling like a year, two, five years from now. So I’m ready to keep running forward. And Elizabeth, just keep running forward. That’s what I would tell her.

Mike Gerholdt: Great. Well, thank you so much for taking time out today and joining us on the podcast. And I guess in two to five years we’ll have to talk to future Elizabeth and see how she’s doing.

Elizabeth Bochanski: Sure. Gladly. I’ll mark it in my schedule, okay, Mike?

Mike Gerholdt: Perfect. Sounds like a plan. Thanks so much for being on.

Elizabeth Bochanski: Thank you so much for having me. And everyone, good luck out there. Thank you.

Mike Gerholdt: Well, it was great talking with Elizabeth. She is definitely leaning into everything, and I think that’s a good theme to kind of go with. You don’t know what opportunities are going to be presented in front of you, and you certainly need to take advantage of those and make the most of them. So it can be difficult to get out there and talk to people and connect and network, but you never know where it’s going to take you. So thank you, Elizabeth, for sharing that with us. Now, of course, if you want to learn more about all things Salesforce Admin, go to admin.salesforce.com to find more resources, including any of the links we mentioned in this episode, as well as a full transcript. You can also stay up to date with us on social. We are @SalesforceAdmns, no I on Twitter. Gillian, my co-host is on Twitter. She is @gilliankbruce. And of course you can give me a follow. I am @mikegerholdt. And with that, stay safe, stay awesome, and stay tuned for the next episode. We’ll see you in the cloud.

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