“I saw myself as being able to be outstanding — so long as I had the chance.”

This is the Trailblazer mindset that propelled 21-year-old Nicholas Grant into the jetstream of his career in the Salesforce ecosystem.

Ever since he was a young boy in Jamaica, Nicholas was drawn to problem solving. He wanted to be a design engineer when he was growing up because he enjoyed finding solutions that made life easier. “For me, it’s understanding — before I can go in and solve, I have to understand the problem,” Nicholas says, “You need to know what you don’t know so you know what you need to learn.”

Nicholas’ passion for finding solutions set him on a path toward higher education opportunities in the U.S.

“I got an F1 visa from the embassy, and came here to attend Monroe College.” As summer approached, he saw a flyer for something called Salesforce Bootcamp hosted by PepUp Tech. Nicholas explains, “I had never heard of Salesforce, so I googled it. All I knew was it was big, innovative, and fast-growing. And I wanted to be part of it.”



The Trailblazers behind PepUp Tech’s Salesforce Bootcamp


Enter Selina Suarez, Rebe de la Paz, Stephanie Herrera, and Shonnah Hughes. These Salesforce community members founded PepUp Tech, a nonprofit organization bringing computer science and technology programs to underserved communities.

After hearing about a Salesforce Bootcamp at the University of San Francisco in 2016, Selina Suarez — herself a graduate of Monroe College — had an epiphany. “I thought ‘We need to make this available to underrepresented students.’ My plan was to find students who’d be a good fit for this program and provide them with the blueprint to build a career within the Salesforce ecosystem.”

But how to take this from idea to reality? Selina knew the community would step up. “Our Salesforce community is special. It’s a coming together of folks who drive equality forward. We are an example of the world we want to see. We don’t just talk about it, we do it. When I came up with the idea for PepUp Tech, I thought of the community first because I knew they would make the program successful.”

All this culminated in PepUp Tech’s Salesforce Bootcamp at Monroe College. Students attend a free two-day workshop — led entirely by volunteers from the Salesforce community of customers, partners, and employees — to learn about CRM and how to build an app on the Salesforce Platform through guided learning with Trailhead modules and projects.

One of those students, of course, was Nicholas Grant.

Salesforce Bootcamp at Monroe College comes full circle with former student Nicholas Grant (center, standing) now volunteering as a teaching assistant.


From Bootcamp to Internship to Career


Nicholas recalls, “The flyer the professor handed out said, ‘Outstanding students get an internship,’ so I said to myself, ‘Well I’ve just got to be outstanding.’”

There was a bit of hesitation, however: “I was afraid that I didn’t know the right people because of my background.” Instead, Nicholas found a vibrant community waiting to help him grow and learn. “I just loved the entire community, that it’s as accepting as it is.”

Grant landed the internship, and used his earnings to complete his CIS degree at Monroe College. Working as a volunteer web developer with a local arm of Meals on Wheels, Nicholas heard the organization was in need of a database. Armed with his new Salesforce knowledge, he offered to build it with some help from Selena Suarez as his mentor. That opportunity quickly led to others. You can hear more about Nicholas’ journey in this Salesforce Admins podcast.

At the time this was recorded, Nicholas was looking for a full-time job. Not long after, he started an exciting new chapter as a junior Salesforce consultant at Praxis LLC.  And of course, he continues to learn with Trailhead and pays it forward by teaching other PepUp Tech bootcamps.