Students offering up real-world solutions at Dreamforce in San Francisco

Thursday, September 27, 2018
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Dreamforce can be overwhelming for some attendees, but a group of college students are soaking up the experience.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Dreamforce can be overwhelming for some attendees, but a group of college students are soaking up the experience as part of the "Trailhead for Students" case competition.

Participants have been tasked with designing, building, and presenting a solution to a real-world problem being faced by Salesforce customer Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, which has seen a decline in volunteers in recent years.

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Bay Area native Seamus Ruiz-Earle currently attends Boston College and is one of the finalists in this year's competition. His team has created a program, using Salesforce tools, that can automatically respond to potential mentors during the recruitment process, in a personal (and data-driven) fashion that delivers results.

"It's collecting as many data points as we can, to match you up with someone who shares those topics, those talents, those interests, to make sure that it's just not a surface-level connection, but it has the potential to be something so much greater," says Ruiz-Earle.

At the local level, more than 700 kids are currently waiting for a mentor. In the South Bay, there's a greater need for male volunteers, especially from the tech sector.

"Our mission of mentoring is absolutely an urgent mission, particularly right now. You have so much talk about pipelines into tech, and what the workforce looks like," said Dawn Kruger, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area chief executive officer.

Bay Area board member Malcolm Goodwin has been involved with the organization nearly 40 years, first as a little brother before eventually becoming a big himself. He's now a successful sales executive who continues to give back however he can.

"We know that we're keeping kids off drugs, we know that we're keeping them in classrooms, we know that they're becoming productive citizens, and that's really the impact that I see," said Goodwin.

As the finalists prepare for their final round of competition Thursday morning, Salesforce executives say they're proud of the students and the solutions they're bringing to the table.

"They're skilled up and are ready for the workforce," said Erica Kuhl, Salesforce vice president of community. "Now we need the companies that are just going to hire them, so this is a great opportunity for companies to change the way they're hiring."

Visit this page for more information how to volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area.

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