One of the fun aspects of blogging for me is getting new post ideas from discussions on earlier posts.
A discussion with Cress (still waiting for the reply, BTW) about free college and why we should offer that here, got me thinking about the assumed correlation between a college degree and success, about the amount of years getting that education and the resultant paycheck that is sure to follow.
First, some short background. My wife, a lawyer (now retired like me) has way more education than I do. Not only that but coming from an upper crust well healed family, only the best schools considered. Raised by a single mom, lower middle class, my schools were limited to wherever I could afford to get in. Her chosen occupation was, on its face, considered a clear path to success as measured by wealth accumulated. Mine, not so much. Yet, going into the marriage, both around 30, the assets combined were fairly equal.
Another measure of success is contentment in avocation, job satisfaction. Again, we are both on equal footing here, happy with the contributions we made and the path chosen.
The lesson here is that many roads can lead to success, as many as definitions individually as is how to measure that success.
Leaving out all the vocational skills that make the world go round, the plumbers, the car mechanics, the electricians, the builders, even the bridge toll takers (you seen their union packages lately?), many white-collar workers and tech workers have found success without a college degree;
Recruiting software engineers is a massive headache for both startups and established companies. For a while now, HackerRank has tried to make both applying for these jobs and hiring the right talent a bit easier. Today, the company is taking a major new step in this direction with the launch of HackerRank Jobs, a job search app that connects companies directly with software engineers who are looking for a new job.
No, not everyone is Will Hunting, but many are skilled enough and know what they want to do right out of High School. And many more can get a great head start or get career choices at their local Junior College for a fraction of the cost.
For years we have heard all the debates about whether a degree is necessary, how your local Starbucks counter guy has a B.A. is whatever (and has the student debt to prove it) but can’t find a job. I don’t want to turn this into a “Get off my lawn” post about this generation being spoiled, lazy or naive. If I put 4 years in, studied hard, and accumulated debt in the process, I would probably hold out for that “great” job as well. But do we really need to foster the notion that success and happiness in work can only be obtained with a college degree?
A buddy that I play tennis with and routinely kicks my ass, runs Children’s Hospital in Oakland. Prior to being the head guy he ran the hiring department from doctors all the way down to technicians. Of course he is well-educated but in many conversations over the years he told me that the intangibles will always win the day. Did you show up for your interview on time, how are you dressed, what do you know about the company, what volunteer work have you done, what was your home life like, show me some of your writing, how well do you speak, how well do you work with others? It is these qualities which separate you from the herd.
I respect anyone who has put in the years for high falutin’ degrees, especially if they paid for it themselves, but that does not make them smarter, more dedicated, more driven, or more able to do the job. Many cogs turn the wheel and each cog can find success if properly applied.