The CATLab Blazes New Trails for Summer 2021
The CATLab is back! After a year of hard work and quiet preparation, we’re thrilled to announce our big project, our new team, and the theme for the summer.
The Project: MyWestmont
Since the CATLab began, our students successfully revamped both the Advancement and Admissions departments of Westmont, centralizing all their tools and data into a unified, efficient system within Salesforce. This summer, our goal is even more ambitious. We will be creating MyWestmont, a single, easy-to-use portal to meet all the online needs of both students and staff members. This portal will help students with anything from checking their chapel attendance to applying for ministries to registering for classes. According to our director Zak Landrum, “This is going to be a multi-year project, with countless apps and forms to rewrite, but we will take it one form at a time with the care and experience that CATLab students can readily provide.” In the meantime, however, we can build the foundations of the portal, which Zak describes as
“a beautiful central train station to give Westmont staff and students the 21st century experience they deserve.”
The Cohort: 16 Developers and 7 Creative/Ops Members
Over 60% of our members this summer are new to the CATLab, making this our biggest cohort yet at 23 students. We have 16 developers across three teams who are tackling a wide range of projects for the school. The programmers will be creating Salesforce components—these are like the individual trains within the station that allow you to get to specific tasks and information. The analysts will be handling a lot of what goes on behind the scenes, especially in terms of data: entering it, visualizing it in reports, and making sure it gets used well. Finally, the form builders will be doing just what their name entails—building the forms needed to help Westmont run.
We also have 7 students on the creative/ops team who will be documenting the process and sharing the lessons we learn over the summer. New team member Alexa Gatiss shared that she was especially looking forward to getting to learn technical skills like Salesforce and Marketing Cloud while also creating emails and designing this year’s magazine. Unlike in previous years, many people on this team will also be paired with individual departments on campus to help them transition to the new technology the CATLab is building.
The Theme: Cultivating Community
With a new summer comes a new theme. We’re thrilled to be back together in person, and as pandemic restrictions loosen, we look forward to engaging more with each other, with fellow people from Westmont, and with the wider Santa Barbara community. John Panos, a returning developer, notes, “I was all online last year, so even though I’ve worked with everyone for a year, it’s crazy coming in and actually meeting people for the first time.” As always, we’ll be leaning on our three core values of authenticity, curiosity, and commitment.
Authenticity provides the very basis for community. We have a responsibility both to represent ourselves accurately and to reach out to others in ways that encourage them to share genuinely. We can also build community through curiosity—coming up with creative questions to get to know each other, or testing out different ways to navigate being a hybrid team with some fully remote members. Finally, cultivating community requires commitment. Once the seeds of a relationship are planted, they have to be tended and maintained, even if this work may vary with the different seasons. As the CATLab looks ahead to this summer with our thrilling project, amazing teammates, and inspiring theme, we can't wait to get started!
Other Resources for Getting Started
- What is Salesforce?
- The CATLab: How Westmont College Is Leveraging Students to Transform Its Tech
- 4 Keys to Successfully Launching a Team Remotely
- 3 Characteristics of Successful Student Developers
How did we onboard this team faster than ever before? Our next post will describe how we skilled up our team using the power of Salesforce's myTrailhead. In the meantime, follow our story!