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A conversation with Eugene Carr & Inori Sakai



Eugene Carr and Inori Sakai discuss Inori's experience going through the Stage and Screen Careers Program.


Eugene: Hi. I'm Gene Carr and I'm here today with Inori Sakai , who's been working with us for the last couple of months and has jumped into the tech world with lots of gusto, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to learn directly from someone who's been part of our program. So welcome Inori. 

Inori: Thanks for having me.

Eugene: So let's start, you're a musician, so why don't you spend a second or two telling us about your, your background as a musician.

What's your instrument? Where did you study, all that kind of stuff.

Inori: Sure. So I'm a violinist. I got my Bachelor and Master of music in violin performance at Julliard and Rice University respectively. And, I've been playing since I was six years old. My goal since I was in high school was to become an orchestra violinist.

And so I was lucky enough to be at great institutions to help guide me to that goal. I was not, however, in the right physical place to reach that goal. I sustained overuse injuries during my time in undergrad, which sort of persisted throughout my time at Rice. And so I had started to take professional auditions, but I realized quickly that my body couldn't keep up with this. So I stopped taking auditions and I decided to take some time to heal following my graduation. And I think that was during my last year in grad school. That was right about the time where a friend of mine reached out to me and told me, oh, hey, there's this musicians in tech thing, right?

And so, I was thinking, oh, okay, sure. I'll just see what it's about. And I think that turned out to be one of the first meetings with you all at Stage and Screen Careers. And I think that was when you were pitching the idea of the business to a bunch of us. And so, oh, sorry.

Eugene: Yeah. So let me ask you this.

For people who are just watching this for the first time, help me help you understand, what is the role of a Salesforce admin? What. What do they actually do?

Inori: Right. So I think it might be just a quick background on what sales the Salesforce platform actually is, because when I started that I didn't know what tech entailed or what Salesforce was, cause I hadn't heard of it.

So companies use the Salesforce platform to sort of store, manage and analyze their data,whether that be customers or donations for a nonprofit programs, you know, campaigns, et cetera, et cetera. So a Salesforce admin is someone who's well-versed in what the platform has to offer.

And so the job is to help the company or a client or whoever to customize their organization's, Salesforce org to best serve their business needs and goals. And this is all without code, which is the first thing that I thought when, I heard tech, I was like, well, that's gonna be code. And that's just like a totally foreign thing to me.

But so this is a very accessible, I think, career path and what, so what the work often ends up looking like is that a company will approach you and say like, Hey, we have, we want to do X, Y, Z. And so you as the admin use your knowledge of the platform and functionality and advise on how best to achieve that goal.

and you eventually implement it. So that could look like automating a work process, you know, managing data and security you can create or make, manage reports, for analysis and, and then you, beyond that, you just teach the people who are using the platform because some people are newer to the platform and so you help them to use what you build basically.

Eugene: I think that's a, that's a wonderful, wonderful description. You know, we all use software all day long and somewhere along the line, inevitably you're on a piece of software and you say to yourself, boy, I wish it would do this, or I wish it would do that. And I think what you're saying is that the role of the Salesforce admin is the customer will say, but really it would be great if it could run a report that put, that puts out data in this format your answer is, actually, I can help you do that. So it's administering the database. So thank, thank you for that explanation.

Now you talked a little bit about coding, but I would love for you to explain how did you find the learning process? I mean, ultimately it's self-guided learning. There's lots of materials online provided by Salesforce that help you walk through.

But since you didn't come from a tech background, you sort of jumped in. Why don't you give us a flavor for how you found the learning process itself?

Inori: Right. Yeah. So the training, as you say, is all online. It's on this learning platform called Trailhead, which organizes the learning materials into like trails, modules and units.

So it's kind of like an interactive textbook, I wanna say. and. , it's written also in a very beginner friendly way, which definitely helped for me coming from a non-technical background. And, each unit has an evaluation at the end, which is, which could be like a little quiz or a hands-on challenge where you can try things out in a test environment.

And so those are quite fun. and I took notes while I was following along cuz it can be a lot of information. and Yeah, and it's, so, it's self-guided. so you do have to be self-motivated. I think it is. The platform makes it very easy how to, block your time basically, because it, at the end, at the beginning, sorry, of each unit or module or trail, there's like an estimated time of completion.

So you can plan with that very well. So it does help also that there are like bigger concrete milestones to work towards, like finishing a trail mix, which is like, I love these names that they have, but a group of trails, that are like tailored to a certain topic, or certification exams, which you can definitely work towards.

So it's not that you're just, you know, working through these trails without an end in sight. .

Eugene: And also we provide a mentor who meets with you on a regular basis, and we have our own sort of knowledge checks to make sure that you're really learning what you're learning. So all in all, you know, for people that are not coming from tech, it's a, I would guess I would, I, I would ask you if you agree, it's a pretty comfortable learning experience, especially if you're starting from, you know, no tech training at all.

It really is a comfortable experience. Would you agree with that?

Inori: Oh yes, definitely. I think, and also I had the chance to try out, one of the knowledge checks that you provided, and that's actually a lot. It's a more, it's a little bit more of a challenge than those end of unit evaluations because a lot of those evaluations sort of walk you through step-by-step with all of the answers.

But the knowledge checks really help you to, in context, implement. And that means you really have to understand it. So those were super helpful.

Eugene: Yeah. I mean, I, when I was doing them, I referred to the Salesforce trailhead as a little bit like color by number. . It says, okay, you're gonna do this and you're gonna do this.

And. The truth is you can do it and get through it and even pass the knowledge check there because you just did it. But when you wait to, when you wait two weeks and you're expected to remember something from three weeks ago that you just did once, it's a little challenging. So, you know, like learning anything repetition is the mother of skill and, and you need to just keep going and going.

So I'd ask you, you know, you've been through the learning, you know, what, was there a part of it that you felt, really made you feel good about what you're doing or really challenged you in a way that you hadn't expected?

Inori: Are we talking the learning experience?

Eugene: Or like Yeah, the whole, yeah, the whole learning experience.

Sure, sure.

Inori: I think, Well, either way. I think the biggest challenge is just the breadth of information to be learned. So even beyond just the initial like foundational learning, you have to constantly take on information about, new features and releases. And so they always say that to be in the Salesforce ecosystem, and I think tech in general really, things are always evolving. You will be a constant learner, and so I think keeping on top of those things can be challenging, especially if you're starting out. But I would say on the other hand, it can be really rewarding because the more you learn, the more you can offer to clients or a company. So for example, you could be wishing while you're going through, you could be wishing yourself like, Hey, I wish there was this certain functionality, and a new release might include that. So you can, you can find a lot of, I, I found that very exciting, personally.

Eugene: Excellent. So let me, let me, since you're a musician, what are the qualities that make musicians or other artists good at this? Are there qualities that overlap that you say, well, because you're a musician, this actually, this kind of thing fits into the way that you learn or the way that you think? What, what are your thoughts on that?

Inori: Right. So I think there are two main characteristics of musicians, which I think are invaluable to the work and that those are the individual discipline and collaboration aspects. So I personally, as a musician and in life in general, I really like organizing things and finding the most efficient way to perform a task. So, As a musician, you hone these skills on such a regular basis.

Like you get a big task, a piece, for example, and you analyze it, break it down to its building blocks, and then you figure out the most efficient way to sort of solve it, and that that's with your practicing methods or technique. And so, They say, I want this sound. So how do I balance all of the various variables involved with my bow, to get this sound consistently and in the most like physically efficient way.

And so I think we can relate this so easily to the admin work because a company will come to you with a need which is similar. So like, Hey, I want this kind of expression in this phrase. And as a musician, your job is to find the best way to get that expression and possibly offer a different, more logical solution given your knowledge of like underlying harmony or phrase structure.

And so it sort of translates across very similarly. and so I think that, so that's one aspect. And also again, the collaborative aspect, I think. , many of the interpersonal skills that we develop and have to develop, both verbal and written, I think are very useful in a business context. And I think all musicians learn and develop the skills to be good listeners and you know how to be respectful and effective communicators.

So I'd say it's a surprisingly good fit for work as an admin.

Eugene: And, as I was listening to you, I was also hearing you say that there's a fair amount of creativity in approaching the work. It's, it's, it's not necessarily, as I was describing before, you might learn it by color, by number. But once you understand the structure, approaching a problem is kind of a creative exercise.

Is that, would you say that's a fair description?

Inori: I think so. And a lot of the. there's never like one way to do things, but usually there's like a best practice or like a more, most efficient way. But again, the more you know and are comfortable with the platform, the more you can sort of be more creative with it because you know all of the different, methods I'd say.

Eugene: No, that's great. So as you are talking wtih fellow artists of all stripes. And some people are thinking about, you know, this whole process. What, what advice, would you give people as they're thinking about this?

Inori: So for me, I'd say, given my personal background, I think my advice would be don't be afraid to be open to different possibilities.

So I'd been sort of operating in a like music tunnel vision since I was a child.

Eugene: Weren't we all?

 

Inori: And so when I got, yeah, I know it's very easy. but, so in my situation when I got injured and was sort of faced with graduating from my master's program with frankly, Very, very narrow, if any, prospects of pursuing my dream career. When that happened, I felt very lost. I had never considered any other path. And I was kind of quite overwhelmed with the prospect of starting over from scratch. And I mean, we've been doing this since we're so young, so it's like, how do I do something similar, like start from there? And so it was kind of a panicked sense of like, am I qualified for anything? But what helped me a lot was being reassured that it's, it's really not all from scratch. Like as we said, these characteristics. We've been basically training with these skills for. Who knows how long depending. But when I was still unsure about the first step with starting jumping on this Stage and Screen Careers thing, it was actually Rachel, Rachel Hands who told me about how valuable the many, you know, innate skills we have as musicians are to in the tech world.

And I saw actual proof of this when I got more experience with the work. And so, so that's just speaking for those who might not be able to pursue music performance as a career, like a main career. I'd say for those who are lucky enough to do, do so, this is still a fantastic job to train towards and I think it offers, you probably mentioned, but it offers flexibility, and you can work from home. And so I think it's a very achievable and pretty ideal hybrid career option.

Eugene: No, that's right. And, and the other thing that, that is similar as we started to, put this program together, you know, like you, from a very early age, I studied with a teacher and I would get an assignment and I would go home and self-guided training.

We would practice all week and then you'd meet with the teacher for an hour and you'd get feedback and you'd bring problems and you'd go on and, and that's pretty much how we modeled this program. Which is that it's mostly self-guided, but there's a teacher, a mentor. So again, we tried to model what we're doing to be something that's very comfortable for artists, for musicians, for dancers, for actors, for anyone that comes from an artistic background where they're working with some kind of a guide, but really the work is your own, really. The work is, is, is on your own.

 So, really these answers are really super helpful. So before we, before we finish, I wonder if there's, you know, if there's anything else that you would like to add that I haven't asked you that, that, that you might like to add for people who are thinking about going down this line of work.

Inori: I would just want to like piggyback off what you just said. I think I found that having a support system, like Stage and Screen Careers is such an asset to someone who's starting out because, because you have people who understand deeply what it means to be a musician or otherwise in the arts, and to be in tech.

So I think I, I certainly wouldn't be where I am now in Salesforce without you guys. Yeah.

Eugene: Well thanks for that. I mean, we're a very unique breed of people and we decided to create a company that is specifically for us. It's, you know, we're not training doctors, we're not training lawyers, we're not training tech.

We're training artists to have hybrid careers so that they can pursue their dreams in whatever way they like. So, you've really answered beautifully all these questions and so I wanted to thank you for taking the time, wishing you all the best in your future Salesforce admin career, and we'll see you soon.

Thanks so much.

Inori: Thank you.

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