Shelley Vinson Helfer has been working with us at Accelebrate for more than 3 years now. Shelley teaches SharePoint, SQL Server, Power BI, and Excel onsite and online. Shelley attributes her 9.5/10.0 overall trainer evaluation score to her ability to listen to students and be flexible to their learning needs.
We asked Shelley to share more about her background, experience, and overall thoughts about the life of a SharePoint trainer. Here's what we found.
For the entire video interview, visit https://youtu.be/5XStz3WTtrs
Accelebrate: Tell us a little about yourself.
Shelley: Originally from Texas, I got my Computer Science degree from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. It took trying about 7 majors before landing on Computer Science. I have a musical background, and also considered medicine, which is just not me anymore. I've always enjoyed math and have learned that I really like to solve problems that have a concrete, right/wrong answer - like math. I worked with a consulting firm called BSG and got into databases, which I really liked.
Accelebrate: How did you get into SharePoint?
Shelley: In 2006, I was heavily involved working with BizTalk Server, a middleware technology that allows you to integrate with things like JD Edwards and PeopleSoft, as well as SharePoint. SharePoint seemed pretty annoying at first; it was a software that seemed pretty finicky. Now I love working with SharePoint and it is one of my favorite products with which to work.
Accelebrate: Tell us a little more about SharePoint Online, Microsoft's cloud-hosted version of SharePoint (as opposed to on-premise, which means SharePoint Server is run in your data center).
Shelley: SharePoint Online is especially beneficial to companies that are implementing Office 365, where everyone can collaborate in one place, which is really useful. At the same time, it can be frustrating, as Microsoft is always putting out new features. Many people have a hard time understanding how these new features work.
Accelebrate: What are some tips you'd give people to help them stay on top of Microsoft technologies?
Shelley: I highly recommend using Twitter to follow the Office 365 community for SharePoint updates, as well as the PowerBI community. By subscribing to these groups, you will be able to get the most up-to-date notifications about your technology of interest.
Accelebrate: Do you have any favorite tech blogs?
Shelley: I like reading SQLServerCentral.com for SQL-related questions. I use Google a lot to search for "how-to" articles. The SQLauthority.com blog is also great. LinkedIn is great for staying engaged in the community; I author a share a lot of articles through LinkedIn.
Accelebrate: What is your favorite part about being a technical trainer?
Shelley: I enjoy meeting new people and getting to work on new challenges. I like showing people how things work and empowering them to implement new skills in their jobs. Most of the time, I enjoy the travel involved with training onsite. I get to see new places all over the country and the world. Corporate training has taken me all over - from Spain and Hungary to California, Florida, and even my home state of Texas.
Accelebrate: What are some FAQ's in your SharePoint classes?
Shelley: Most frequently, I get asked about using metadata vs. folders. SharePoint folder structures should be used wisely. I recommend thinking twice before creating a new folder in SharePoint. (Check out her how-to article: How to Use SharePoint Metadata Instead of Folders)
I also get questions about using SharePoint workflows. Many people move to SharePoint for the workflows, which allow a set of commonly executed business process steps to be automated (for example, an expense report approval or an annual salary review). Microsoft Flow is replacing the current SharePoint workflows soon.
Accelebrate: Are there any other big no-no's in SharePoint, or things that people should be careful with or avoid?
Shelley: SharePoint should have "one version of the truth." For example, an employee handbook should be shared via one version for all, rather than having people make copies and edit individual documents. It is essential that everyone collaborate on the same document.
When sharing a file within a company, it is highly recommended to share it via SharePoint instead of attaching a file to an email. This will help ensure proper file alignment and avoid multiple versions of similar documents floating around in a company.
You should also be careful with SharePoint Online, which will save and keep multiple versions of documents, eating up the storage quota. This can be managed via the SharePoint settings, by defining major versus minor versions.
Accelebrate: What are some of your passions, interests, and hobbies outside of work?
Shelley: I work tradeshows with my husband, Dean. His company, Channel Craft, sells American-made games, toys, and puzzles. We have really cool toys and I love getting to travel and work with him.
I love my volunteering work. I work with a group of Inner City Kids through a Christian outreach organization in New York. I like being involved in their lives and helping them to achieve success. One of the teens I've worked with is going to law school, another is a sophomore in college, and yet another just got accepted to Hunter College. I am very proud of them for accomplishing so much.
I am also a volunteer with a local organization in Pittsburgh: CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), where I help two foster kids by advocating for them through the court system.
Accelebrate: What advice would you offer to kids wanting to get into the tech industry when they grow up?
Shelley: I recommend that kids study hard and work hard. Do your homework. Get into the best college you can. There are so many free resources out there. Get practice through coding bootcamps online. Do research on what is important to learn in your chosen area. Don't feel like the tech sector is out of reach, no matter who you are. It is possible - if you put in the work.
Accelebrate: Is there anything else readers should know about you?
Shelley: I work hard. I am very passionate about helping students do their jobs better. If I don't know the answer to a question, I am not ashamed to admit it. I always do the best I can to find the answer.
Accelebrate: Thank you so much for joining us for this talk today, Shelley. We really enjoy working with you at Accelebrate!
Shelley: Thank you. I enjoy working with Accelebrate. It's been a great experience.
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