Focused and Certified: Ian John Caluscusan — A Full-Stack Developer’s Transition To Salesforce

Ian John Caluscusan Focus on Force

Ian John Caluscusan is a 5x Salesforce certified Product Owner/Salesforce Developer for Focus on Force. Starting his career as a Full-Stack Developer, he was leading a small team of developers when their company decided to tap into the Salesforce market. Find out which of his five certifications he considers his hardest, which areas of the Platform Developer II certification he thinks learners should most focus on, what a typical working day for a Focus on Force employee is like, and what advice he has for Salesforce beginners!

Hello. My name is Ian John Caluscusan, and I’m one of the Product Owners and Salesforce Developers here at Focus on Force.

How did you get started with Salesforce?

I used to work in Singapore as a Solutions Architect and Full-Stack Developer. I was leading a small team there — we did a mix of things such as web apps, social media apps, microsites, mobile apps; and eventually the company that I worked for tapped into the Salesforce Market. 

So our team was assigned to integrate the website of one client with their Salesforce org. So basically, my first interactions with the platform were very programmatic in a sense. Which I believe wasn't the best starting point for anyone who was just learning Salesforce. And then I knew that I had to keep on learning Salesforce moving forward.

What were your goals when starting and how did you keep motivated?

The more I understood how things worked internally within this big software, the more I knew that it’s a very powerful tool that’ll not only benefit companies and their business processes, but will also benefit anyone career-wise or skilled, on utilizing the platform.

At the same time, it wasn't a conscious decision or choice that I made to keep on learning Salesforce because I had grown to love the platform and it made things very easy for me to build things. In Salesforce, all the back end is already taken care of, and I can just immediately go in and go straight to developing or building the application that I want to build.

The more I understood how things worked internally within this big software, the more I knew that it’s a very powerful tool that’ll not only benefit companies and their business processes, but will also benefit anyone career-wise...

Of the 5 certifications you currently have, what would you say was the hardest one?

Out of the five certifications, I think the very first certification that I took was the hardest one for me — which was Admin. I have to admit, I found the Salesforce platform very confusing at first. There were a lot of things I was being introduced to, and it took me some time to really understand what the platform is about and its purpose. Several people can relate that Admin is not that easy especially if you're just new to the software.

Would you say that obtaining your 5 certifications affected your career in a positive way?

Career-wise, yes. I believe that Salesforce is the top CRM. For example, even if you only have a single Salesforce certification badge on your LinkedIn account, people will just reach out to you to connect and offer potential opportunities. So I really would like to encourage everyone to learn and become certified in Salesforce. You don't need to have any technical background, really. And there are a variety of opportunities in the Salesforce community and ecosystem.

Which areas of the Platform App Builder certification exam should test takers focus on?

For Platform App Builder, it actually focuses more on the declarative tools in Salesforce. And this involves familiarizing yourself with workflow rules, processes, flow builders, and all of that. Even approval processes. So it's more focused on determining the capabilities and limitations of each tool, basically.

What are some of the areas of the Platform Developer II certification exam test takers should focus on?

As for Platform Developer II, we all know that this is the next level after Platform Developer I. So while the Platform Developer I takes care of the basics for Apex, custom Lightning Components such as all the Components, Lightning Web Components, and even Visualforce; in Platform Developer II, you would be focusing more on the integration capabilities of the Salesforce org. So in that sense, that would be what you want to focus on for that certification.

Can you please paint a picture of what a typical working day for you is like?

I'm one of the Product Owners here at Focus on Force and one of my responsibilities is to help build and maintain content that is related mostly to the developer certifications in Salesforce that we offer. So on a normal day, I would be responding to inquiry or feedback coming from our users and this may lead to necessary updates in our study guides or practice exams for corrections, clarifications or enhancements and improvements.

At the same time, I'm also one of the developers. I also dedicate a part of my day to work on Salesforce-related projects and this would involve enhancing existing applications that we use, or building new tools that help improve certain internal processes here at Focus on Force. Also there might be one or more meetings depending on the day to discuss different agendas.

For what certifications did you use Focus on Force for, and would you say it was helpful towards your preparations?

Yeah. And I am saying this with no bias at all, I used our materials to prepare for and pass the exams under Platform App Builder, Platform Developer I, and Platform Developer II. I was in Australia to join the Trailhead Bootcamp, and I passed the Platform Developer I exam there. And that boot camp allowed us to have another coupon in order to take another exam in case you fail the first exam. So since I passed the first exam, I still had that one extra coupon to take another exam, and I thought that maybe I can take the Platform App Builder exam.

So I decided to do that. And I used our materials in those limited number of days to study and prepare for the exam. Fortunately, I did pass the App Builder exam on that trip as well.

Would you say that having good communication skills are essential to a career in Salesforce?

Yes, it really is. Especially in my role as a Product Owner where we have to create, build, maintain, and enhance content — we really need to know our English very well, and how we want to simplify complex concepts in Salesforce into something that is digestible and easily understood by most of our customers. But at the same time, it may also depend on the kind of role that you are functioning as. Maybe if you're purely a developer, then it's not really that important.

Especially in my role as a Product Owner where we have to create, build, maintain, and enhance content —  we want to simplify complex concepts in Salesforce into something that is digestible and easily understood by most of our customers.

What advice would you give someone aspiring to join the Salesforce ecosystem?

So my advice for people who want to have Salesforce certifications is that I'd like to encourage them to use Focus on Force materials as a guide and tool for preparing for the exams. It's really important to fully understand each topic covered in the study guide, for example, before actually moving on to the next topic. If you encounter a topic in our study guide or even the practice exams and you may want to find more information on that, please use the reference links provided. 

Take and retake all the topic exams and practice exams until you reach the highest possible score you can achieve. 90% and above is a very good target, and even better, try to aim for a 100%. You will not encounter the same questions in the actual certification exam, but you will encounter the same topics or concepts behind those questions.

Lastly, use a Developer Edition org to have hands-on practice. I can't stress the importance of getting yourself familiar with the declarative configurations as well as the programmatic tools if required and see for yourself how the platform or the Salesforce org behaves and operates based on your instructions.

What Certification are you studying for now?

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