Skip to main content

April 6, 2023

Inside the Apprenticeship Experience

Bitwise Industries Highlights One of Our Humans

Take a peek behind the curtain to get a first-hand look at how an apprenticeship looks and feels from one of our very own apprentice experiences. Introducing: Thomas Heppner (he/him), Salesforce Client Crew & Interim Apprentice Lead at Bitwise Industries.

Hello, World!

My name is Thomas, and I just finished my Salesforce Apprenticeship at Bitwise Industries. Before learning about Bitwise or Salesforce, I was attempting to finish college with the end goal of becoming a math teacher. I had been a tutor for over a decade, and unlike many, I truly love math. It is logical and challenging, but can be maddening at times. Little did I know back then, Salesforce administration is quite similar. 

Unfortunately, when COVID-19 hit and we entered a state of quarantine, those concrete plans of becoming a teacher were suddenly fluid. I did not have the necessary determination or willpower, and failed in completing my college courses. Luckily, I was fortunate enough to have some friends in the Salesforce industry. While lamenting my failures and wallowing in self-pity, one of those friends took an interest in my career that exceeded even my own interest. They refused to let me fail.

My Mentor

After months of learning–months filled with laughs, but also fights, and thoughts of completely giving up–my mentor told me I was ready to become a Salesforce professional. Unfortunately, I had a really hard time finding a company that agreed with him. Until I applied to Bitwise.

I was referred to Bitwise by a friend, and before my first interview, I read every Bitwise article I could find, and watched all the interviews of co-founders/co-CEOs, Irma Olguin Jr. and Jake Soberal. Their attitude was that of my mentor: to take those that do not know success, and show them that success is for everyone; to make a conscious effort to find those that have fallen, and prove that they do not have to stay down; to actively empower others to shape their own futures, and break from societal traditions and expectations.

My Interview

My interview went well, and I ended up landing a spot in an apprenticeship. I realized soon how lucky I really was. I had a talented, thoughtful, and experienced leader named Andy DeSanctis, and I had fellow apprentices who were passionate, engaged, and hungry for success. We were all remote workers, but we were able to take advantage of a wonderful online platform called Gather, where we built a virtual office space on a digital pirate ship! To our friends and family, it looked like a video game, but I swear it was all business … mostly. We were able to collaborate instantaneously like we were in person, and this truly helped to build a sense of community among the team. Before long, the apprenticeship felt like family.

My Apprenticeship

At the start of the apprenticeship, we were all building a foundation for future knowledge. Salesforce does a great job of providing lessons and guided paths to teach anyone interested about their software. It’s called Salesforce Trailhead, and I encourage you to check it out. Also during this time, we were answering the more abstract questions: Why do companies use Salesforce? What value does Salesforce bring to those companies? How can I build a career by learning about Salesforce? While my mentor had previously covered the basics, my apprentice lead, Andy, fully dove in to answer these questions. And for every apprentice, he made the dream of a career in Salesforce seem more than just possible. I have no doubt that quitting the apprenticeship crossed some minds at one point, but Andy made it clear that no one was getting left behind.

A few months into the apprenticeship, the team was completing projects like we were a professional organization. We felt so professional in fact, that we named ourselves “Top Deck Consulting,” in reference to the pirate ship we inhabited for our virtual office space (and yes, we all eventually figured out that the “Top Deck” is not actually a nautical term for any part of a ship). At this fictional company that we were able to create within the Bitwise Apprenticeship, our Salesforce knowledge grew, and we learned how to excel as a team. We weren’t just doing basic lessons anymore, we were building applications and solutions for real-world scenarios.

As we came upon our one-year anniversary, the apprenticeship seemed to be running itself. Our apprentice lead had a medical issue and needed to take a few weeks off. While it was difficult without him around, it became clear that no matter who was gone from the team, someone would always step up to fill the missing spot. During the last six months of our apprenticeship, we had multiple projects humming along, while every team member successfully juggled numerous tasks and responsibilities. We came up with our own ideas for Bitwise applications (one that is currently being used by Bitwise), and even created a Podcast to boost Salesforce adoption within the company. I can guarantee that not a single apprentice knew that they would be capable of such greatness when they first started. I had the advantage of knowing Salesforce before starting, and I did not come close to anticipating what I could accomplish.

My Future

Throughout the entire apprenticeship, we all felt such privilege to work at Bitwise. It is a company that you brag to your loved ones about. A company whose goals and missions can only be refuted by those with no sense or love, no brain nor heart.

Conclusions have never been my strong suit. It doesn’t seem real that we just finished in the last week of March. I had to go through this whole post and change almost every verb to the past tense. I could write pages upon pages about every single fellow apprentice I had the pleasure of working with. And I am more than tearing up while writing this finale. I will always remember the goals we accomplished and the bonds we made. The apprenticeship was life changing, and I have grown more than I thought possible. It only makes sense to give back, to pay it forward. And remember that success feels empty if you can’t share it with those that helped you get there.

Let Us Help You Grow

Bitwise Industries builds tech economies in underestimated cities, driving digital transformation through its Salesforce, DocuSign, and Digital Project Development. Developing innovative tech solutions, and partnering with mission-aligned organizations to train individuals living in underestimated communities with in-demand tech skills to improve their standard of living is our mission. Centering our efforts in the heart of the downtowns of these overlooked cities, Bitwise is creating a place for the technology industry to take root and ignite local economies.

This post was written by Thomas Heppner, Salesforce Client Crew & Interim Apprentice Lead for Bitwise Industries. When he’s not working on Salesforce, he’s jamming out to some sweet tunes while playing golf with his family and friends! And after that, you’ll find him at a restaurant grubbing down on some delish cuisines of all origins. The only thing you won’t find him eating are beets. (Bleh!)

If you’re interested in uncovering the tech possibilities available to your organization or want to find more ways to increase your ROI with technology, click this link to schedule some time with one of our experts.