Working with Nonprofit Leads to Salesforce Developer Career
Every trailblazer has a unique story about how they got started in the Salesforce ecosystem. Whether they are “accidental admins” who fell into a role nobody else could fill or they aspired to work in Salesforce since they were teens, everybody working in Salesforce has overcome great obstacles to learn technology that has only been around for two decades.
CRM Science’s Patrick O’Leary is among the rare breed of Salesforce developers who was introduced to Salesforce as a teenager. So, when O’Leary graduated with a Computer Science degree from Saint Joseph’s University, CRM Science was eager to bring him on board and set him loose.
Launching a career in Salesforce for Nonprofits
Like countless Salesforce admins and developers, O’Leary gained valuable working experience in Salesforce by assisting a nonprofit organization with a Salesforce implementation.
O’Leary’s parents operate the MusicWorks® program, which is a music therapy nonprofit that “aims to restore, improve and maintain the quality of life of all individuals throughout the Delaware Valley who face hardships every day.”
“I started helping my parents with their nonprofit when I was about 12 years old,” said O’Leary. “And we implemented Salesforce for the organization when I was a junior in high school.”
As a lifelong Boy Scouts of America member, O’Leary’s scoutmaster, Timothy Ay, greatly impacted his path into the Salesforce ecosystem. At the time, Ay was a computer science professor and CTO at Villanova University, teaching students Salesforce fundamentals. Knowing that O’Leary’s parents operated a nonprofit organization, Ay asked O’Leary if his parents were interested in using the Salesforce platform.
“My mom said she would love to use Salesforce, but she didn’t think the organization could afford it,” said O’Leary. That’s when Ay helped them get started with the platform for free using O’Leary as a liaison between the technical and business sides of the implementation.
After implementing Salesforce for MusicWorks and fulfilling the role of accidental admin, O’Leary knew he wanted a career working in Salesforce.
Maximizing the Value of College Internships
Working for his parents’ nonprofit and completing college internships propelled O’Leary into a developer career in Salesforce.
By the time O’Leary was a freshman in college, his scoutmaster, Timothy Ay, was the director of higher education solutions with a Salesforce PDO partner called roundCorner, which offered nonprofit and higher education applications on the platform. Ay thought O’Leary was perfect for an internship for roundCorner, so he brought him aboard.
“I was already familiar with Salesforce from working at MusicWorks, but the internship at roundCorner was much more in-depth… The internship expanded my knowledge of working with Salesforce for nonprofits, and I learned about the unique ways different nonprofits use the platform” said O’Leary. O’Leary said he also learned about data importation and how to complete general Salesforce administrative tasks.
O’Leary completed another internship with Univest Bank in Souderton, Pa., before earning his bachelor’s degree. Here, he helped grow the company’s Salesforce division by working in an admin role for the newly formed department. “The company only had one full-time admin, and there were three by the end of my internship.”
After graduation, O’Leary started looking toward contacts at his internships to find a full-time position. A few months before his graduation, roundCorner was acquired by Salesforce and most of his former colleagues moved on to new companies. Among those former colleagues was Diana Herst, who joined CRM Science as Director of Marketing in March 2019.
“I was actually looking for an admin role,” said O’Leary. However, CRM Science Director of Information Technology Kirk Steffke, had a different vision for O’Leary’s role with the company. “Kirk reminded me that I have a computer science degree and several years of Salesforce development experience, and he encouraged me to pursue a developer position.”
Looking Toward a Cutting-Edge Future with Salesforce
Six months into his journey at CRM Science, O’Leary says the work culture and opportunities to expand his skills are unparalleled.
“Working with all the different teams at CRM Science has been an eye-opener for sure,” said O’Leary. He started by working on internal Salesforce assignments, but now works with the AppExchange team at CRM Science led by Matt Scheer. “I’ve been working with Matt Scheer for the last month or two, and he is an incredible teacher.”
With his first taste of client-side work under his belt, Patrick said he values communication more than ever. “It’s so important to check in with the team lead or Engagement Success Manager throughout the course of a project,” said O’Leary.
O’Leary said communicating with such a welcoming team has been easy for him. The CRM Science team and clients are spread throughout the US. The team uses a combination of Salesforce Chatter, Jira, Slack, email, and other connectivity tools to stay in contact with one another. Even though he is not in the same building as colleagues and clients, he said he is amazed by how tightly knit the group can be. “Even though we’re all spread out and not always in the office, I feel closer to everyone at CRM Science than I have in jobs where I worked onsite.”
As he continues learning about and navigating through the Salesforce ecosystem, O’Leary said his ultimate goal is to become a senior Salesforce developer. He also said he enjoys working on the PDO side of the CRM Science team, and building apps is quickly becoming a passion of his. “I have really enjoyed working on Matt Scheer's application developer team, and I want to continue to do so. Matt has been an incredible mentor to me, and I hope to one day even lead a team like his!”
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