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Focus on People: Andrew Sullivan — Getting A Certification At The Start Of My Salesforce Journey

Andrew Sullivan Profile

For those who are still at the beginning of learning and experimenting with Salesforce platform, this interview will be a real motivation for taking the next big step.

We had a great interview with Andrew Sullivan who is a Senior QA Analyst and is working part-time as a Salesforce developer. He is still at the beginning of his Salesforce journey and he has already earned his first Platform Dev  I certification.

Keep reading, he has a lot of interesting stuff to share with Focus on Force community!

What is your role now and what does your day to day look like?

Current title is Senior QA Analyst, but I’m working part time as a Salesforce developer and transitioning to full time developer over the next few weeks. My day-to-day as a QA Lead on projects involves maintaining high level test plans and other documentation, writing and executing test scripts, mentoring QA team members, as well as working directly with customers to assist with UAT and discovery. On the development side I’ve taken up development tasks on projects for enterprise level Salesforce solutions, and supporting existing Salesforce applications developed by us and other software vendors.

How and Why did you get started with Salesforce?

As for why – we signed a contract to develop a large ecommerce project on the Salesforce platform. How – with ZERO previous Salesforce exposure, studied the business requirements and technical design to get an idea of how the solution was being implemented, and then diving right in to get my hands dirty once the dev team started got to work on creating objects, VF pages and integration services.

"(I started) with ZERO previous Salesforce exposure, studied the business requirements and technical design to get an idea of how the solution was being implemented... "

What were your goals when starting?

Mainly your standard QA goals – ensure the product that we developed met the business needs of our customer.

What was the most challenging part of learning Salesforce?

For me, the toughest pieces to grasp were the sharing model (e.g. role hierarchy and sharing rules) and Reports & Dashboards, as the project mentioned above didn’t leverage these at all.

What certifications have you achieved so far?

So far, only Platform Dev I

Which certification was the most difficult one for you and why? How did you prepare yourself for that specific Salesforce certification?

Since it was only the one cert so far, that must have been the most difficult. I actually took the exam a few years back without studying – hoping to rely on my experience alone (around 9 months to a year after the project mentioned above began). This didn’t work out in my favor, as I couldn’t answer any questions about record sharing or reporting functionality. There was also quite a bit of administrative functionality that I was unaware of.

My second attempt came a few years later.
I prepared by reading Platform Fundamentals, completing many Trailhead courses, using some flash cards found via google search, and finally by taking the practice tests from Focus on Force, which were immensely helpful.

Focus on Force Study Guide

Trailhead Modules 

Focus on Force Practice Exams

Do you plan to achieve more Salesforce certifications in the future and which one is next?

Eventually I’ll be continuing down the developer certification path. The next certification will likely be Salesforce Certified Administrator.

How did Focus on Force study guides and practice exams help with your preparation?

The practice tests were the only material I leveraged for the Platform Dev cert, but they were very useful for getting myself in the test-taking mindset, as well as familiarizing myself with the formatting and overall “feel” of the exam itself. The questions are worded and presented in a very similar manner to the actual test, which is hugely helpful. Additionally, I felt a higher degree of trust that the Focus on Force practice tests were more representative of the “actual” current-state functionality of Salesforce and the test questions, while some of the other resources found on google were quite clearly outdated and outmoded.

"(I trust) that the Focus on Force practice tests were more representative of the actual, current-state functionality...other resources found on Google were quite clearly outdated and outmoded. "

What advice do you have for someone that wants to start a Salesforce career?

Create a sandbox and just start playing around! Real-world usage of Salesforce is a major help. I always learn better with hands-on, practical exposure, so getting in there and building something is the best way to learn it in my opinion.

What Certification are you studying for now?

Focus on Force currently provides practice exams and study guides for sixteen certifications