A degree of success
Although I enjoy working for myself, I always keep the door open to any interesting job opportunities that may come my way in the future. So my heart skipped a beat this week when I noticed I was showing up in LinkedIn as not having a degree.
It turns out that when I signed up, about 10 years ago, I entered the degree details the wrong way around. My grade (2:1) was showing in a box that these days has a drop-down where I should have selected ‘Bachelor’s Degree’ (I’m a Bachelor of Broadcasting, which LinkedIn doesn’t have as an option, funnily enough). As a result, any recruiters searching for me would have seen me in their search results as not having a degree.
After fixing the error, I stumbled upon a CNBC article about big employers that no longer require a degree
. While I now have enough of a work history that people don’t ask me abut my degree anyway, it’s encouraging to see arbitrary requirements for a having taken a particular path earlier in life are slowly disappearing.
After all, if you’re interested enough in a topic as a teenager, you can likely read all the world’s information about it online before you’re 18. You can use your passion to start a business out of nothing. You can take short courses to learn from world-class experts. And the internet means you can demonstrate that knowledge and build an audience for it entirely off your own back.
University used to be about breaking out of your hometown and expanding your horizons, but the internet lets you become friends with people from all over the world, not just get drunk with a few privileged folk in some student union bar in a university town.
I recently gave a talk to a bunch of 18-year-olds at a school about how modern careers were like surfing – you have to keep adjusting your balance and direction to keep going. Surprisingly, no staff in their school had told them anything like that before – everything was geared towards getting them to university with good grades
Yesterday, I caught a TV news report about how apprenticeships were increasingly popular with young people because they give them financial independence, rather than a degree that gives them decades of debt.
The options for young people are more diverse than ever before. They can succeed on their own terms. Degrees will always be important for some career paths, but the sooner those of us who are a bit older break away from the idea that they’re a necessary 'default setting to success,’ the better.