This is the first in a new series of posts that will spotlight one Developer who has successfully transitioned to Salesforce. The people in these posts were interviewed in order to share their transition experiences with other developers. This information was used as part of a Dreamforce 2014 session titled, “Career Strategies for Developers Transitioning to Salesforce“.
Salesforce Architect for Cameleon Software, a PROS company
Jason, who recently passed the DEV501 certification test, has been working with Salesforce for the past two years. But Jason is no newcomer to software development. He has been a professional software developer since 1994, when he began his career as a computer programmer at NASA. It was there that he developed a C++ and X-Windows application used to plan Space Station and Shuttle missions. You can read more about his programming background here.
Jason has worked with many technologies and platforms over the years, but it was his exposure to a Dreamforce session one year ago that ignited a certain spark in him. The following are Jason’s own words about what led him to becoming a Salesforce Developer and why he likes it so much:
What was your main transition approach, or was your transition very sudden?
It was very sudden and exactly one year ago. I had just taken a HOT session and I was sitting on a bean bag practicing what I learnt in an Interfacing with Salesforce using REST class while listening to 80’s music. At that moment, I realized why Salesforce was so successful and why I was going to devote the rest of my career to this fantastic platform. Specifically, Salesforce understood how to make the developer experience very cool and very fun. We hear a lot about user experience but less about developer experience. Good software requires good user experience and a good platform requires good developer experience – and Salesforce has the very best. At that time, I was managing a large salesforce team, a dynamics CRM team, and two cloud teams. My days were filled with double or triple booked meetings from morning until COB. I decided in the bean bag that my life was about to change and that I was a developer again. I took PTO the week after Dreamforce and spent 30 hours developing a Salesforce 1 app to validate my decision. I have not stopped developing since.
Did you pursue any certifications? Did you take any online or in-person classes? What other types of training did you do to learn about Salesforce?
In the Spring of 2014, I travelled to Dallas TX to attend the DEV401 training class. A few weeks later, I travelled to Salesforce offices in San Mateo, CA to attend the DEV501 training class. Both instructors were really great teachers each with their own very unique style. I passed the DEV401 cert in the Summer of 2014 and I hope to pass the DEV501 cert in Fall of 2014. After I pass (while I wait for the programming assignment), I intend to purse two more certifications in Sales Cloud and Technical Architect.
What are some of your favorite online resources for learning? Do you have any favorite blogs that you follow?
We have premier support so I heavily use the partner training portal to prepare for certification exams. Also, I have a membership with pluralsight and think these video resource are a great way for developers to stay up to date and relevant. I also follow several blogs like Sara Has No Limits, Bob Buzzard blog, Andy In The Cloud, Force365 – Cloud Architects, The Humble Salesforce Developer, et al. I also started blogging myself on topics that I practice at work that I think might help others. Recently, I have been working a lot with metadata api’s and so I probably reference Andy In The Cloud blog the most. I have a lot of content from my recent experience that I would very much like to blog about when I can find the time.
Did you get any advice from other developers and if so what was the most helpful?
Yes, but it was a very weird situation. I was managing (and leading) a remote team of very experience Salesforce developers (all in Bolivia) and then swapped roles with a technical lead (in Houston) that wanted to pursue management. Most of my remote reports were now my peers and it was difficult at first to get advice from them. Once the other developers saw that I was very serious about changing role – the certification helped – and they realized that I really did want to follow the technical path then they really helped me out. Two of the Bolivians visited for two weeks. During this time, they helped me to switch from Eclipse to MavensMate, work with Git and Stash (previously I only worked with Mercurial and other like versioning software), and – most of all – they really really challenged my code. My years of being a professional developer came back to me very quickly during their visit which really motivated me.
What are you doing now and how did everything you do prepare you for it?
After the Bolivians visited, we sprinted together for four three-week sprints developing a managed package. It has been the best 12 weeks of my career by a long shot. I am really looking forward to working with Salesforce over the long term to really master the platform.
If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently in your transition approach?
Nope, I would not change a thing about the transition approach. I use to go to work every day as a manager. Now, I go to work every day to play with my favorite hobby. I look at every work day like I would a fun vacation day on the slopes in Telluride or on the beaches in Maui. I truly love my job and more than that – I love knowing what I am going to be doing for the rest of my career. There is a clear difference between management and developer. I liked management but development has always been what I truly love to do. If I could do parts of my career over again, then I probably would not have gone into management. With that said, I am a better developer now for it.
Anything else you want to add that you think would be helpful to developers transitioning?
If you already program in Java or C# then the transition will be very easy for you. If you are a front end developer then your experience would likely be extremely valuable to a Salesforce development team. And to all other developers (and even managers), you can be a Salesforce developer too by leveraging the great Salesforce training course, Salesforce resources, Success forums, blogs, and the many many people (like Sara) that have already transitioned and really want to help you. I also very much would like to help anyone that wants to make this transition too.