Standing with 10 Manning School of Business students on the 61st-floor observation deck of Salesforce Tower, with breathtaking views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge before them and a tranquil lounge (with a free latte bar) behind them, adjunct faculty member Steve Powell had a thought.
These students may now have sky-high expectations for their future work environments.
Or, at the very least, the students now have something to aspire to after their recent trip out west for the annual Salesforce TrailheaDX developer conference and career fair. More than 14,000 people attended the two-day event to network and learn about the latest innovations in Salesforce’s market-leading customer relationship management (CRM) platform.
This was the first time the Manning School sent students to San Francisco for the event; last year, more than 100 UML students participated remotely via webcam.
Thanks to the university’s relationship with Salesforce, the business students were treated to an added bonus on the trip: an exclusive half-day of meetings with company leaders and a tour of Salesforce Tower, their new global headquarters.
“It was such a great honor to represent UMass Lowell in San Francisco,” says Diana Smith, who two weeks earlier had received her master’s degree in business administration from the Manning School. She co-owns an online consulting business, Contrivance Partners.
“At work, I focus a lot on customer experience,” Smith says. “It was really interesting for me to learn about new integrations and even the use of blockchain to provide a seamless customer experience.”
Last winter, Smith helped launch the Salesforce Leaders Society, a student organization dedicated to introducing all UML students to the industry-leading CRM platform and its Trailhead training resources.
She was joined in San Francisco by the society’s current co-presidents, Dave Seybert and Gianni Newman, and fellow students Raj Aurora, Eliza Bulger, Kyle Cloutier, Akanksha Jain, Bhoomi Mistry, Karan Tejpal and Kendall Yasi. Powell accompanied the students.
“For three days, we were exposed to such an incredible volume of knowledge in one of the most powerful tech environments in the world,” says Seybert, a senior business administration major with concentrations in marketing and international business. “We got a lot of direction and purpose to incorporate into our club’s curriculum.”
Newman was impressed by Salesforce’s “1-1-1 Model of Integrated Philanthropy,” which provides funding for thousands of nonprofit organizations around the world.
“Their philosophy on improving communities around them, instead of just focusing on self-growth like most other companies, has changed my perspective on the world,” says Newman, a rising junior majoring in business administration with concentrations in marketing and management.
According to a 2016 study by International Data Corporation, 3.3 million new Salesforce-related jobs will be created by 2022. The career fair featured recruiters from companies big and small that use the CRM platform, including Accenture, Prudential, and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Students also received coaching from industry experts on resume writing and personal pitch delivery.
“Employers who utilize this technology are looking for candidates who know the platform, and currently there is a shortage of Salesforce experience,” says Cloutier, a rising junior majoring in business administration. “Just a little bit of knowledge on Salesforce translates to a massive advantage for students looking for a professional career.”
Yasi, a rising senior and Honors student majoring in business administration with concentrations in entrepreneurship and marketing, agrees.
“If you already know Salesforce right out of college, it not only makes you look good as a potential candidate for jobs, but it also helps you because it’s one less thing for you to learn when you do start your job,” she says.
During their visit to Salesforce Tower, students learned about the company’s culture and paths to career growth from Vice President of Engagement Mark Dickey and employees from product management, user design and human resources.
“Hearing their stories was so inspiring,” says Mistry, who earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration this spring. She describes the company’s headquarters as “mind-blowing.”
The students’ travel expenses were funded by the Manning School. According to Assoc. Prof. Tony Gao, who has been instrumental in incorporating Salesforce into the business school’s curricula, it’s a “strategic investment into our students at large” since the students will now act as Salesforce ambassadors on campus.
Tejpal, who is pursuing his master of science in business analytics, spoke for all the students in thanking Dean Sandra Richtermeyer for the opportunity.
“This trip,” Tejpal says, “was one of the best things that has ever happened to me.”