Salesforce Resources for Students: Contests

08/07/2020 by Mackenzie Stall
Part three of a recent graduate’s guide to navigating the Salesforce ecosystem and the resources available to help students achieve success.

In the first post of the series, “Salesforce Resources for Students: Trailhead,” I described how to navigate Trailhead through a student lens. The second post of the series, “Salesforce Resources for Students: Contests,” detailed Trailblazer Community Groups and Seeking an Internship. Now, in the final installment of the series, we are covering my favorite type of Salesforce opportunities for students and my most exciting experience to date- Salesforce Contests. 

Salesforce has been ramping up their efforts in creating more exciting hands-on opportunities for students. In 2017 they held a Trailhead badge competition that awarded a trip to Dreamforce to the person who earned the most badges within a specified timeframe. The 2017 winner happened to be now-fellow Arkus Project Manager, Linda Adams. She describes her experience in the following two paragraphs.

“My journey into the world of Salesforce began with Trailhead. I'd heard others rave about the free learning platform and decided to take a look for myself. I immediately fell in love with Salesforce and focused on attaining Ranger status. Even with this goal in mind, however, the next steps toward entering the Salesforce ecosystem were unclear. Luckily, 2017 was the year that Trailhead for Students was created and they hosted their first Trailhead badge competition for students. The grand prize was a trip to Dreamforce and other prizes included certificate vouchers, trailblazer hoodies, etc.

Thanks to Trailhead for Students, I was able to attend Dreamforce and participate in the student programming available there. This programming included a job fair at which I was very fortunate to meet representatives of Arkus. I had the opportunity to begin my dream job while I was a second-semester senior in school and will soon be celebrating my three year anniversary here. For that, I will always be grateful to the Trailhead for Students team and the amazing opportunities Salesforce provides for college students.” — Linda Adams

Trailhead Badge Competition

Deloitte partnered with Salesforce in 2020 to host the Trailhead badge competition again. Throughout the timeframe to earn badges, Deloitte hosted multiple webinars with Salesforce professionals who provided their guidance and tips on growing a career in the ecosystem. Prizes for this competition included a personal meeting with Deloitte leadership, Apple AirPods, and certification vouchers. 

In September of 2019 Salesforce announced their second Student Case Contest, in partnership with the American Heart Association (AHA). They held a similar contest in 2018 with Big Brother Big Sisters. These Case Competitions challenge students to solve real-world business problems with Salesforce’s products. The following is my story of entering and winning the 2019 competition.

AHA provided three pain-points revolving around their Heart Challenge fundraiser: utilizing social media, making students aware of their impact, and donation tracking. Salesforce promoted the competition to college students and beginners involved in Salesforce affiliated programs such as Mom’s Relaunch. Over 100 teams from across the country participated, with just one month to create a solution.

Entering the Contest 

This was an excellent opportunity to test the skills I’d been learning with Salesforce. The contest required teams to be made of 2-4 people. When none of the other students I asked were able to join my team, I asked a close friend with no Salesforce knowledge to join. During the creation of our solution, I handled the majority of technical configuration in Salesforce while my teammate performed business research that helped validate the choices we made in our creation. Even though I had been practicing Salesforce for the nine months prior, the majority of our solution utilized Salesforce features that I had never used before and had to quickly learn on Trailhead during the competition. 

We spent a lot of time on the project and were really proud of the solution we put together in the month’s time. The initial submission included a recorded demo and presentation of the solution. Within a week we were notified as one of the eight teams to make it to the semi-finals. For the semi-finals, we virtually presented a live-demo and slide deck to three judges. There was time after our presentation for the judges to give feedback and ask us questions about the solution. No other teams were present on the call as everyone presented to the judges at different times throughout the day.

The rest of our day was spent anxiously waiting for the results. Just six hours after presenting, we received the most exciting news of my college career. We were one of the four finalists that would be flown out to San Francisco to present our solution on stage at Dreamforce for the grand prize of $1,000! All of our expenses and Dreamforce passes were paid for by Salesforce and they even provided us with money for food and transportation costs upon arrival. 

The Results Are In 

The week in San Francisco attending Dreamforce was surreal. Throughout the week the Salesforce Student Group coordinated activities and sessions that focused on guiding us on our career path. On Thursday the final round of the contest was held. Each team had only five minutes to present their solution. After spending the week getting to know each team, it was really cool to finally see everyone's creations. My partner and I presented last, then the scores were immediately tallied to determine the winner. And the winner was….our solution! 

While winning $1,000 on a big written check was really cool, the most rewarding part was hearing the AHA judge say that our solution was “exactly” what they wanted for their website. Participating in the contest and getting to attend Dreamforce really ignited my personal direction toward consulting. 

You can read Amanda Bauman’s article on how the contest even led to my current role with Arkus. Working on this contest was truly an exhilarating experience from start to finish. I highly encourage any student learning Salesforce to participate in this contest for the genuine experience of challenging yourself and practicing your Salesforce skills.

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Presenting the winning solution on stage at Dreamforce

Contest Tips and Takeaways:
  • Follow Salesforce content on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed on the latest opportunities.
  • Participate in the contests and activities. You will learn so much from each experience. No harm will come from trying and you never know where the opportunities will lead you.
  • Add your participation to your resume and create content for your LinkedIn.

What's Next From Here

It was a wild first year in the ecosystem while I started my Salesforce journey. I hope my experience will help others navigate their way and serve as a success story for Salesforce to keep growing their student influence and opportunities. 

The Salesforce ecosystem is truly an inspiring place as I continue to learn and grow in my career. Organizations like PepUp Tech, Climb Hire, and Salesforce Military are also impacting inclusivity while providing supportive communities for people starting their Salesforce journey. 

What opportunities are you currently working on as a student or beginner in the Salesforce ecosystem? If you’re not a student, what are your thoughts and involvement with beginners in the Salesforce ecosystem? Tell me about them on the Salesforce Trailblazer Community, or tweet directly at me on Twitter @StallMackenzie.