Skill Up

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Explore skills you can start building now.
  • Identify resources to skill up in an area that interests you.
  • Describe what an informational interview is and what questions to ask.<

Someday, You Might Go to College…or Maybe You’re Already There

Depending on your age, you may be in college, planning for college, or not even thinking about it yet.

We could write a whole trail on how to select a school, choose a major, determine if you need an advanced degree, or even decide if college is right for you. For the purposes of this module, if you decide to pursue college, how do you make sure you get the most out of your college experience?

As we saw in some of the Salesforce employee profiles, the major you choose doesn’t necessarily limit you to a certain job role--there are many different pathways you can take.  Experts say that what matters most to future career success is not so much which college or major you choose, but the choices you make while in college.

Gallup did a survey of 30,000 college graduates and identified the six factors that contribute to graduates thriving in their careers after graduation. Two of the key factors were working on on a long-term project and having a job or internship during college. However, according to Gallup, only 32% of grads in the US have worked on a project lasting for a semester or longer.

What you can do while you’re in college (or even middle and high school):

  • Complete an internship
  • Build a portfolio of your work
  • Look for outside opportunities to build work readiness and specialized skills
  • Participate in extracurricular activities and look for opportunities to take on leadership roles<

Participating in long-term projects, gaining experience through an internship, and building a portfolio can help you be successful after your college days are behind you.

Start Building Specialized Skills

There are many technical and work-related skills that you can start learning on your own using online resources. In fact, one of the best ways to skill up for Salesforce career pathways is through Trailhead--the fun, free, hands-on way to learn Salesforce. 

If you are new to Trailhead, here are a few recommendations on where to start:

If you want to… Start with…

Build technical development skills

Developer Beginner trail

Build a Conference Management App

Learn sales and marketing skills

Learn CRM Essentials

Develop your management skills

Manage the Salesforce Way

Learn UX skills

Visualforce Basics

Learn how to build an app

Quickstart: Build Your First App

Build a Suggestion Box App

Learn more about Salesforce

Salesforce Ohana Culture

Navigate the Salesforce Advantage

Ask for Feedback

Asking for feedback from your peers, teachers, and coaches is a great way to develop and prepare for your future career. Getting feedback on what you are doing well and what you can do to improve will help you figure out what skills you need to work on.

Have you ever received a grade and not understood why you got it? Did you ask your teacher in a respectful, calm manner and learn tips to improve for next time?  If you did, you’re on the right track.  

While jobs don’t typically involve giving out grades, everyone has measurements for success. The ability to get input and learn how to improve never stops, and the sooner you start practicing that, the better for your future. 

See Giving and Receiving Feedback to learn more.

Learn How to Speak in Front of Groups

Have you ever had to speak in front of your class? Or maybe in front of your whole school? Speaking in front of groups for the first time can be scary, but it’s a skill you can learn and get better at the more you practice. 

Developing your communication skills is really valuable no matter what path you may decide to take, and it’s something you can start developing now. Employers consistently say that one of the key skills they look for in new graduates is good communication.

To learn some practical tips, complete the Public Speaking Skills module in Trailhead and earn your badge.

Talk with People About Their Jobs

This is called an “informational interview,” which sounds fancy but really just means asking questions about someone’s job.

It helps to learn as much as you can from people who have experience in a specific role you are interested in. Not only can you learn more about the role itself and whether it’s something you’d find interesting, but you can also learn more about the ways to prepare yourself, the skills you need to build, and the pathways to getting there.

You can interview your family, community members, teachers, coaches, and other adults about their current or past jobs to find out more. Here are some open-ended questions that you can ask:

  • Could you tell me about your background and the path that led you to your job?
  • What experiences best prepared you for this job?
  • What is the most interesting part of your job?
  • What part of your job do you like the least?
  • What is a typical day like for you at work?
  • Which publications, groups, events, or resources do you recommend for someone interested in this type of role?
  • Who are some other people I could talk to about jobs like yours?<

In the next unit we’ll cover how to formulate your elevator pitch and how to ask someone for a meeting or their time to conduct an informational interview.

Next Steps

  1. Talk to three different people in your fields of interest to learn more. Ask open-ended questions to learn about what they do.
  2. Ask for feedback on how you can improve (this can be from a teacher, about a school assignment; a coach or team member, for a sport; or even a close friend).
  3. Attend a community event with intent to learn and build a network.