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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Saturday, June 22, 2024
The Echo

Students take on Dreamforce conference

Grace Hooley | Echo

Sept. 24 through Sept. 28, four Taylor students and one staff member of the Data Analytics Team had the opportunity to present at Dreamforce in San Francisco where about 170,000 people attended.

The Data Analytics Team has been led by Nathan Baker, director of Recruitment and Analytics and director of the Data Analytics Team, for five semesters. Seniors Will Schaufelberger, Alex Hunter, Jason Argo and Nolan Willoughby were the four to attend and speak at Dreamforce.

"We got a taste of the real world," Schaufelberger said.

Salesforce is the company that puts on the Dreamforce conference. According to Quora, Salesforce is an "online product that allows Marketing, Sales, and Customer Support employees to track information about their prospects and customers. It allows those multiple groups to have a unified view of the customer, so that they can provide a better customer experience."

Taylor is under contract for the following Salesforce-owned products: Sales Cloud CRM (primary database and customer relationship management), Pardot (marketing automation), Communities Cloud (external users to access Salesforce - aka: online application to TU), Einstein Analytics (data analysis) and Service Cloud (case management and resolution). The students spoke at the conference about how they use these products on their team and here at Taylor. Most of the students saw this as an opportunity that showed them what the business world outside of university could look like.

"It was a really good experience. It was cool to see Salesforce from a different perspective because I've just looked at it from how we use it at Taylor," Willoughby said.

The conference ran Monday through Friday, and the students spoke twice, once on Thursday, Sept. 27 and one more shorter presentation Friday, Sept. 28. The $2,000-a-person fee was covered because they were speaking at the conference, and Taylor covered the hotel they stayed in.

Along with speaking, the students and Baker got to enjoy listening to other speakers and people at the conference such as: Al Gore, Jerry Rice of the 49ers, Steve Kerr and Will I Am. They sat in on other sessions and networked with representatives for companies that use Salesforce.

"I gained a great exposure to the real world and how this works," Hunter said.

San Francisco held one of the biggest conferences for Salesforce.

The team is based in a course here at Taylor. This is the second time at the conference for Hunter, and the students who went this year said that they learned a lot from the class and the conference.

The Data Analytics course is a 400-level marketing elective course, and a wide variety of majors take it. It is also led by Baker, and he has experienced different students through his five semesters with the class and team.

"The actual content of the class is still evolving and changing. . . . The class is open to anyone who wants to learn about data and analytics," Argo said.

One of the interesting things about the conference was how many people commented on the fact that they were university students getting to attend something like this. People they met and interacted with mentioned how lucky they were to get an opportunity like this in university.

The students said that this was something that not only pertained to their majors, but it also helped them see their future. Argo said that getting to see what good customer service looks like was beneficial to him.

"For me, I am hoping to do something with entrepreneurship," Schaufelberger said. "I'd like to own my own business someday. . . . For me just moving forward with this idea in mind that there are products out there that can really help you and give you an advantage moving forward."

Insightful, worthwhile and connections. These were a few of the words the students used to describe this conference where they learned so much and saw their futures.

Overall, the students believe that the education they received from this class helped get them into the conference, and they hope to see more students engage with this material.

"It's always fun to work with students, and for them to prepare something and actually present it," Baker said.