It shouldn’t be a surprise that tech jobs keep growing in Indiana, but the secret sauce to filling those roles requires innovation and intention. Especially if you set out an audacious goal of training 500 people by 2020.  

That’s the goal of Salesforce’s Pathfinder training program. The idea originated from an expressed need to upskill talent with specific technical expertise beyond what could be gained in a typical classroom. The program was announced in November 2017, and the first Pathfinder cohort began their training in June 2018. Since then, the program has seen two cohorts graduate, totalling 83 participants. Another cohort is in progress with 80 participants—proving they’re well on their way to their 500 person goal.

“The Salesforce tech employment ecosystem is literally adding millions of jobs worldwide over the next several years,” said Matt Etchison, CIO of Ivy Tech Community College, one of the inaugural program sourcing partners. “Pathfinder graduates can become a Salesforce administrator or developer and be on their way to an incredibly lucrative and rewarding career with highly-sought after skills to help fuel the Indiana economy.”

Currently available to Ivy Tech Community College students, Indiana veterans, and graduates of the Eleven Fifty Academy program, the four-month Pathfinder program complements technical Salesforce training with business and soft skills training. Participants spend the first eight weeks on Trailhead, Salesforce’s online learning platform, to understand the basics of Salesforce administration or development. During this time, they also complete training on Deloitte’s online training platform including modules on time management, how to have insightful conversations, and elevator pitches. Once participants have completed the online portion, they come together for seven days of in-person training, two of which are led by Deloitte and five of which are led by Salesforce. Lastly, participants self-study and then take the applicable Salesforce certification exam to become a certified Salesforce administrator or developer.

Alongside the business training curriculum which is woven throughout the program, Deloitte employees who work as Salesforce consultants as well as Salesforce employees volunteer as program mentors. These mentors work closely with each participant throughout the program, which has proven to be a valuable experience on both sides. “We’ve found that our employees are excited to pay it forward and invest in this new talent by sharing their career journeys: how they’ve arrived at where they are, and guiding others as well,” said Sarah Brayton, manager within Monitor Institute by Deloitte, Deloitte’s social impact consulting practice, who works with the Pathfinder program.

The targeted participant pipeline from Ivy Tech, the veterans community and Eleven Fifty Academy graduates has allowed for word-of-mouth to generate plenty of new leads for the program, according to Casey Robertson Howe, program manager for the Pathfinder Training program. “You have the graduates of our program whose lives have changed a lot,” she said. “Of course, they’re going to be our biggest advocates moving forward.”

Since day one, Ivy Tech has been an enthusiastic sourcing partner with the program, connecting promising students with this opportunity. “Ivy Tech was honored to be the first college in the country (2-year or 4-year) to launch the Salesforce Pathfinder program,” said Matt Etchison, Ivy Tech’s CIO who managed the Pathfinder collaboration when it first launched.

The local aspect of the program is also enticing to Ivy Tech students: they can participate in the program and remain in Indiana, working in a growing industry with a useful skill set that complements Ivy Tech’s degrees. “By all accounts thus far it has been incredibly successful, and students who complete it are getting terrific internships and full-time employment in the Salesforce tech ecosystem,” said Etchison.

While the Pathfinder program is relatively young, Salesforce and Deloitte have already benefited as well. As part of the joint commitment to launch the Pathfinder program, Deloitte committed to offer internships or other employment to 10% of qualified graduates. From the first class of Pathfinder program students, Deloitte hired 20%. “This is a relatively new source of talent for us,” said Brayton. “We’re eager to learn what talent can be successful on our platform. We’re excited about the quality of the graduates from the program.”

As the program matures, Salesforce is finding additional ways to tweak the program and to increase both the enrollment and the successful outcomes of the people who go through it. Eleven Fifty Academy is one of the newest additions to the program, and there could be more opportunities to involve the community in the near future, as well as employers who are open to thinking differently about talent.

“We’re looking at how we can get more local employers signed on to say, ‘I know these folks don’t have a bachelor’s degree and they might have a non-traditional resume and background, but they have these skills, they’ve gone through this rigorous program, I’m willing to give them an interview and take a chance on them.’ That’s one of our biggest charges that we’re driving toward,” said Howe.

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