My PENCIL Journey Takes Me to Dreamforce 2019

A couple of weeks ago, PENCIL’s own Yamile Pacheco Cueva, Database Associate, had a chance to attend Salesforce Dreamforce 2019. We had her do a little blog takeover to share her highlights from the trip and the steps that led up to this incredible event. Thank you for sharing, Yamile!


Birds are chirping, rivers are flowing in the distance…The last place anyone would imagine fitting this description is the middle of downtown San Francisco. But that is exactly what I saw when, from November 19th to the 22nd, Salesforce turned the Moscone Center and its surroundings into a nature camp for its Dreamforce Conference. With multiple learning trails for more than 100,000 Salesforce users, it is one of the largest tech conferences in the world. How did I find myself there?

My career trails started long before I knew about Salesforce, and it was all because of PENCIL. In 2013 I applied to be a PENCIL Fellow (now known as a PENCIL Intern) and had the opportunity to work at PENCIL’s office as a Programs Intern during the summer. My internship was extended into the school year where I kept enhancing my data management skills with tools such as Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Access. In 2015, I became a Network Coordinator and PENCIL started the transition to Salesforce. During that time, I assisted my supervisor at the time, Katje King, with gathering information and understanding the Salesforce data model.

From there I became what is known in the Salesforce community as an Accidental Admin – a Salesforce administrator who unintentionally becomes responsible for managing the platform. As I grew into my current role of Database Associate, PENCIL gave me more freedom and responsibility to understand the platform, manage its configuration, and implement solutions that increased user adoption and helped the organization measure the impact it had on the students and volunteers engaged in its core programs.

In May 2019 I officially became a Salesforce Certified Administrator, and 6 months later, with the support of PENCIL’s leadership and my current supervisor, Keith Howey, I attended Dreamforce 2019.

Just like a nature camp, each day consisted of “fireside chats”, trailhead workshops, hands-on activities, games, and more. My highlights include:

  • Participating in a roundtable discussion on how administrators can support their nonprofit’s mission with their data model.
  • Attending an admin-focused session on how to gather feedback from users about the way they work and use that feedback to boost productivity.
  • Learning how other nonprofit organizations are leveraging native and add-on products to capture stories from their constituents.
  • A breakout session led by the Salesforce Security team, which showed system administrators how they can leverage native Salesforce functionality to enhance the security of their organization
  • Last, but definitely not least, I enjoyed attending the Fireside Chat with Ayesha and Stephen Curry. As two people who are making a difference in the world, reflecting Salesforce’s mission, they spoke about their work in their nonprofit Eat.Learn.Play., and their community outreach in Oakland.

In sum, Dreamforce was everything I dreamed it would be and more. I am forever grateful to PENCIL for the opportunity to attend and for shaping my career path starting in my high school years. I am ready to start implementing the solutions I learned at Dreamforce to help PENCIL fulfill its mission of helping students pave their career paths to success just as PENCIL helped me.