Talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not. At Dreamforce 2018, Salesforce.org hosted 400 future leaders from Bay Area workforce development nonprofit organizations and schools to participate in the first-ever Future Executive Summit. The Summit provided these motivated young professionals an opportunity to experience a best-in-class “conference within a conference.” This helped them build social capital by developing their professional networks, as well as practice networking skills that are essential for the careers of today and tomorrow.
The Summit started with attendees learning about authentic leadership, followed by a large-scale speed networking activity where our future leaders had the chance to connect with Salesforce employees, customers, and MVPs. Through this activity, Future Executive Summit participants gained valuable insight into our volunteers’ career journeys and how they have navigated their professional growth.
One of the speed networking volunteers, Rachel Greenfield, Product Marketing Manager at Salesforce.org, shared her experience with us.
What inspired you to participate?
Relationship-building is critical for everyone’s career, but access to those relationships isn’t always equitable or easy to find. Take a moment and think about the education, resources, and experiences that led to your career. How did access or your socioeconomic background shape that path? It’s an important thing to think about, and it’s what inspired me to become a Year Up mentor this year. I’m a big believer in achieving equality through equity – giving students what they need to succeed is the first step in closing the opportunity divide. That’s why when I heard about the Future Executive Summit, I instantly raised my hand and was inspired to participate. As a member of the Higher Ed team at Salesforce.org, I also get to think about how our technology can help move this needle forward for every student. This event was truly the perfect way to bring my work and volunteer passions to life and I’m so glad I participated.
What advice do you have for others who want to make an impact? How can we help the next generation of youth get Future Ready for tomorrow’s jobs?
There are so many organizations out there that are laser focused on this issue such as Year Up, Genesys Works, and iMentor. Get involved. Become a mentor or just help out with local events for these organizations. Making an impact can be as small as participating in a resume workshop or as big as meeting with a mentee a few times a week – it’s completely up to you! Also, if you see a Year Up or Genesys Works intern in the office, say hi! Introduce yourself, get to know them and offer any advice or support you can provide. If you can have a student shadow you, I definitely encourage that as well. One thing I guarantee is that you’ll walk away learning something new about yourself and the opportunity divide that many students face every day.
On the second day of the Summit, young adults participated in various sessions and workshops, including a Seven Second Resume workshop and a Business Simulation activity. The Seven Second Resume session, facilitated by Grads of Life, helped young adults translate their life experiences into business benefit in seven seconds, which is the average length of time a recruiter looks at a resume. NFTE (Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship) led the Business Simulation workshop, in which young adults worked in teams to develop solutions to real-life challenges based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). During this activity, they were able to practice their collaboration skills, critical thinking, creativity, and innovation in a team environment, with coaching and mentorship from Salesforce volunteers.
A networking roundtable at Future Executive Summit, Dreamforce 2018
One of the volunteers, Keith Dunnell, Senior Director, Business Value Services, shares his experience as a mentor:
What did participating in this event mean to you?
This event presented a great opportunity for me to contribute to the professional development of young people. I was able to encourage, support, and coach them to think like entrepreneurs and develop their creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills. I have a passion for developing people. I rarely get the chance to work with young people. This was a great opportunity to do both. I hoped to inspire them to be entrepreneurial thinkers and business leaders.
What advice do you have for others who want to help the next generation of youth prepare for the future?
Time with professionals like you is one of the most valuable assets you can give a young person. Your time as a volunteer is hugely impactful for youth, because getting youth comfortable with sharing their ideas with professionals is key to them being able to manage their careers. It is also an opportunity for them to build their professional networks at a young age.
Ebony Frelix and Macklemore at Future Executive Summit
In addition to hands-on skill-building activities, young adults heard from March for Our Lives organizer David Hogg, celebrity guests like rapper Macklemore, NFL star Marshawn Lynch, and Salesforce Co-CEO Marc Benioff.
One of our future leaders, Karyna Yoong, a COOP participant, shared her experience attending the Future Executive Summit:
How did this experience change the way you look at your career path?
I’ve always thought of my career as a means of achieving personal success and satisfaction. However, listening to all the speakers and panelists at Dreamforce talk about their career motivations completely blew my mind! I’m still on the same journey to build my career, but now with an added purpose. I’ve been asking myself the same question that was asked to some of the panelists, which was “Why do you do what you do?” Through my reflection, I’ve found my reason for success, which is to one day be in a position to open more doors to career opportunities for my community. I want to show them that having a meaningful career in tech isn’t beyond the boundaries of where you come from in the world. I now have a newfound desire to succeed because of this purpose, and to achieve something bigger than myself for the greater good of my community.
What is one thing you learned at the Future Executive Summit? What will you do as a follow up from the Future Executive Summit?
“True answers are found within ourselves.” I was really inspired by Marc Benioff’s speech about how he incorporates mindfulness and meditation into his everyday schedule. He talked about the importance of listening to yourself when you quiet your mind. He also talked about how it has helped him with decision-making and building on ideas for the business. Since the Future Executive Summit, I’ve been practicing meditation using the Headspace app. I’ve seen great results in terms of a boost in productivity and clarity in my personal career development – to focus and build my career around what truly matters to me.
What inspired you most?
The way that Salesforce uses business as a platform for change. I was inspired by speeches from Ebony Frelix [EVP & Chief Philanthropy Officer of Salesforce.org] and Tony Prophet [Chief Equality Officer of Salesforce], in which they talked about Salesforce’s efforts to promote diversity, inclusion, and giving back to the community. One thing that really stood out was their commitment to investing in young people in the classroom for workforce development. Salesforce is bridging the gap between the education and business sector, and I believe that will really shape students to be workforce ready and overcome underemployment – which is exactly what we, at our organization, COOP, pour our hearts and souls into achieving every day.
We know that there are many young adults who deserve the opportunity to gain exposure to the tech ecosystem and to build the confidence that they belong in the corporate world. To ensure our future leaders have access to opportunities like these, it will require a collective effort from each of us. We hope that the Future Executive Summit has ignited a spark in young adults to learn more about career pathways in technology. And we hope the experience inspires professionals with access and opportunity to reach out and give back to the next generation of leaders who aim to follow in their footsteps.
Ways to help
Feel inspired to take action? Join a workforce development nonprofit as a volunteer. A few suggestions:
Year Up envisions a future in which every young adult will be able to reach their potential. Their mission is to close the Opportunity Divide by providing urban young adults with the skills, experience, and support that will empower them to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education.
Genesys Works provides pathways to career success for high school students in underserved communities through skills-training, meaningful work experience, and impactful relationships.
COOP closes the social capital gap by recruiting and investing deeply in diverse, low-income, and first-generation grads from the City University of New York, San Francisco State, and other urban public colleges.
Since 2014, COOP has run 50 cohorts with over 700 apprentices, and are on their way to 10,000 by 2025. Four-in-five alumni work full-time, earning an average of $45,000 after 12 months (3x pre-program average) and almost $70,000 after three years (2x peer baseline).
A few hours of career advice, resume help, and mentoring can make a huge difference in a young adult’s life. Whether you have an hour a week, or just time for a one-off event, consider joining a workforce development volunteer opportunity near you!
About the Author
Angelica “Jelly” Pineda is a Workforce Development Associate at Salesforce.org. She aims to drive impact through bridging the gap of opportunity by providing access to the tech sector to those that would not traditionally have it. By creating a space where untapped talent can engage with employees through workforce development volunteerism, she is shifting the perspective of what it means to be a qualified candidate. By building partnerships and collaborations, she delivers purpose-driven volunteerism to empower the people she supports and changing the view of the value they carry to those that engage with them. Prior to her role in workforce development, she joined Salesforce.org after an internship as Grants Program Coordinator and successfully completing a training program with Year Up. Connect with her on LinkedIn.