Imagine two young people.
Person One is a great student. He is accepted to a good school and takes out some student loans. He doesn’t know what he wants to do in life, but he figures he’ll know in four years and hopes that whatever he does will earn him enough to pay off his debts. He spends his time in college studying and passing his classes, joining some clubs here and there, and he eventually graduates with a degree in political science.
Person Two is also accepted to a good school, but he opts out of college. He also doesn’t know what he wants to do, but he doesn’t consider it wise to take a large loan to find out. While Person One is in class, Person Two spends his time reading, learning from YouTube, attending meetups, and writing a blog on marketing practices he has learned. He offers to build the social media channels for a small business run by a family friend and learns photography on the job when he realizes the social channel needs better product photos. He offers to take on more work, and after six months, he’s hired full time.
By the time Person One has graduated, Person Two has four years of experience under his belt. Person One has $35,000 in debt, and Person Two, although he didn’t get paid much, has saved $15,000.
They both happen to apply to the same job opening at a marketing firm. Here’s what the HR department reads on their resumes:
– Treasurer of College Republicans
– Student Body President
– 3.7 GPA in political science
– Natural leader; led a group project in his upper level seminar course
– A sample essay on differing theories of government as a demonstration of his writing abilities
– 4 years of experience running social media channels for a small sports retailer
– Built an engaged Facebook following of 20,000 users and generated thousands an sales with target ads
– A link to a portfolio of product photography
– Links to relevant articles he has written on marketing over the last few years and copy from various social media posts he’s written
– A professional reference from his family friend turned employer
Who do you think gets hired?
Here’s the thing…
A young person who hedges all his bets on the fact that he has a degree is dramatically limiting his options in life.
Whether you go to school or not, if you want to be a marketable individual, you need to take responsibility for building your own credential outside of the classroom. If your degree is the most impressive part of your resume, you’re doing it wrong.