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Higher Ed Students Gain Salesforce Skills While Contributing to Success

By March 7, 2016

By: Florence Parodi, Manager, University of Miami Information Technology

HE Summit 16With 35+ breakout sessions, nineteen theater sessions, two Ignite workshops, two Trailhead Live workshops, a Circles of Success, running demos, and a Genius Bar, Higher Ed Summit 2016 participants will come back inspired and eager to apply all that they have learned. But, if you’re a solo admin or part of a small team responsible for Salesforce at your school, you may wonder how in the world you can provide awesome functionality to your users without working 24×7. Higher education institutions have talented resources that might be over looked, and at the University of Miami we’re leveraging them to enhance our Salesforce team.

The key? Student workers.

Here’s our story: One day we realized that we could help our students on their journey to a great career by recruiting them to join our Salesforce team. Students are innovative, savvy, and the not-so-secret super powers of our team.

Some of their responsibilities include system integration, data loading, development, system administration, documentation and training. This is augmented by the cool stuff that gets pushed from our back burner to the top of their to-do list. Let’s be honest, they are our sidekicks who help us do really cool stuff.

If you’re thinking about adding some super sidekicks to your team, this is how we did it:

1. Advertise!

Start the traditional way with a job description and post a position with student employment, then get tactical. Academic advisors and faculty members are amazing resources to connect students with your office. Students often refer other students, so you may only need to post one position and they will do the rest. In our case, we had a young developer join our team and, as time progressed, she moved on to other opportunities, BUT she didn’t truly leave us. As her goodbye gift, she recruited two new young developers in her place.

2. Initiation: Start with the basics

After a tour of Salesforce led by a member of our student team, the first assignment is always data cleanup. We do this for two reasons: (1) there is always a supply of records that need to be cleaned up and (2) it helps them learn the data model and figure out how to resolve the problem. It has become a rite of passage when a new student joins the team.

Last year, three student employees were included in a project to implement automated deduplication scenarios using Demand Tools. Based on the knowledge they gained manually deduping records, they were able to help write, test and schedule scenarios to run on a weekly basis. This opportunity gave them real world experience to collaborate with end users, and we were able to check off a major item on our list that otherwise would have remained a manual process.

3. Encourage them to develop

Tasks and projects are assigned to student employees using Salesforce Cases. This promotes collaboration and visibility between our team and end users.

Until recently, it was a manual process to create cases, but two student employees fixed that. One documented the functional requirements and the other researched Salesforce, then they got busy building. They created a visual force page for quick case creation by end users, workflow rules for email alerts, and used process builder to add case teams and assign cases to a queue. The end result was presented by the students at our monthly user group meeting and is now used to submit all Salesforce support and development requests to our team.

4. They will move on, this is a difficult good thing!

Some student employees will continue working after graduating, but most will move on when they finish school. One of our student employees recently left us for an internship as a Salesforce developer. We felt so many emotions; first sadness and then excitement because we were thrilled that her time on our team helped her develop skills to impress her new employer. The legacy that she left with us is reflected in the students that she helped recruit.

Overall, we strongly encourage the recruitment of student employees to join your team. They helped us automate a few of our manual processes, which opened the door for us to be truly innovative.

Join us at Higher Ed Summit 2016, March 30 – April 1 in New Orleans, to hear more about our newest project. You’ll understand immediately that we could never have considered such an ambitious undertaking without an incredible team and a host of student workers to help us succeed.

Learn More about the Higher Ed Summit

About the Author
Florence Parodi leads the Salesforce enterprise strategy for prospective student engagement, serving undergraduate and graduate students in more than 180 majors and programs. She is a member of the Higher Education Advisory Council and is a Salesforce certified Administrator and Developer. Prior to joining IT, she was associate director of marketing for the Division of Continuing and International Education, where she led the first implementation (2008) of Salesforce at the University.