With more than 150,000 companies using Salesforce, and recent estimates showing that the platform’s ecosystem will generate millions of new jobs by the year 2024, new graduates entering marketing, sales, IT, and similar fields are likely to encounter the software at some point in their careers.

Most employees need to learn Salesforce skills on the job. But during the past academic year at Butler University, students have had the opportunity to build a foundation of Salesforce experience in the classroom through a free course taught by Butler alumni.

Alli Gunderson ’17, who majored in Economics while at Butler, now serves as a Salesforce Consultant with Wipro. In her day-to-day role, she works with clients to find ways that Salesforce products can meet business needs, then provides guidance on how to implement and use the platform. She draws on that experience, as well as the formalized Salesforce training Wipro provides for new hires, to teach in-demand skills to Butler students.

“I’m excited to be teaching Salesforce, getting people learning it before they come into their jobs,” Gunderson says. “The Salesforce ecosystem is booming, so this course gets students familiar with the software.”

Through a partnership between Butler and Wipro, the non-credit course is offered through Butler’s Office of Career and Professional Success (CaPS). With three hours of live instruction each week, lessons cover the basics of customer relationship management (CRM)—a process that helps companies organize their relationships and interactions with current and potential customers. Gunderson says students are also prepared to take Salesforce’s administrator certification exam, and completing the course even allows them to waive the $200 exam fee.

Sarah Berk ’16, who graduated from Butler with majors in Management Information Systems and Marketing, passed her certification exam a couple months after completing Butler’s Salesforce course (which is also open to alumni) last fall. Currently an Enterprise Support Specialist at email marketing software company Cheetah Digital, she had used Salesforce in the past and was eager for the opportunity to learn more.

“The course was really helpful in giving me the foundations to pass the test,” Berk says. “It provided realistic examples to better my understanding. In addition to learning all about administering Salesforce’s service and sales consoles, I learned about setting permissions and all the various ways Salesforce is and can be used. I’m hoping to apply my knowledge at my current position, being able to advise and assist with our own Salesforce Administration.”

While Gunderson is the primary course instructor, she often invites guest speakers from a variety of departments within Wipro, connecting students with new topics and perspectives.

“This course instilled me with platform basics that I’ll take throughout my career, but the Salesforce community’s kindness impacted me just as greatly,” says junior Strategic Communication major Sofia Yarbrough, who took the course that just wrapped up this spring. “Every guest speaker spent extra time helping students with career qualms and genuinely wanted the best for all of us. One speaker connected me with a market analyst colleague after class, which I so appreciated. I look forward to using Salesforce in the future, and I appreciate Alli for teaching me the basics.”

Yarbrough chose to enroll in the course after discovering an interest for market analytics. She saw this as a chance to gain experience that would help her stand out.

“Every marketing professional I spoke with agreed that Salesforce has changed the CRM game,” she says. “I knew knowledge of this database would help prepare me for any marketing position.”

Qahir Lakha ’19, another Butler graduate who previously worked at Wipro as an Associate Consultant, says this course also helps build a talent pipeline from Butler to Wipro. After Lakha graduated from Butler with majors in Psychology and Philosophy, he joined Wipro and completed the company’s three-month Salesforce consulting “boot camp.” He says the content from that training (along with modules from Trailhead) inspired the development of the Salesforce course for Butler, so future recruits to Wipro and other companies utilizing Salesforce will already have learned these valuable skills—putting them a step ahead.

“We know that Butler is always wanting to be on the cutting edge,” Lakha says. “They want to be an innovative school, so they were the perfect partner for this course. Getting this class established was one of the smoother projects I’ve been involved in, and that’s all thanks to Butler leadership.”

Currently, Wipro’s Salesforce course is offered exclusively at Butler, and Gunderson says there aren’t many other courses like it around the world. But since the course was first announced, Gunderson has received inquiries about how other universities can emulate this program. After teaching CRM skills to 20 Butler students over the course’s first year, the team plans to return for future semesters, continuing to provide students with an outlet to grow. 

The Salesforce certification course is open to Butler students of all majors, as well as alumni. Those who are interested in enrolling should contact the CaPS Office at career@butler.edu.