Yesterday, I posted a comment on a LinkedIn post written by a former higher up-in-higher ed administration type. As people are wrought to do, his post got hijacked in the comments section. I commented on one of the tangential threads.
The unspoken, hidden debate was over whether all colleges and universities should become “vocational” for the future. The spoken out loud debate was about the value in a “practical” degree vs. an “esoteric” one (borrowing the term in the comment I framed my own hijack around).
My main point–
Connections count more (though truthfully, the research slightly slants toward “choosing where you go wisely” as it makes a difference in lifetime earnings). Back in the day, this mantra was part of my informal schooling in the hidden job market as well as the then dreaded ole boy network (since I was neither).
Btw, this kind of network didn’t die. It just now includes women.
To back up my point, I mentioned my own business research, where a lot of the degrees in the bios I read often have little to no relationship to the job and career path of the person. How I see clusters of employees–especially managers and key position holders–who went to the same school.
Second, I suggested that they take a look at the practices of many a ga-zillionaire tech company founder, who usually hire their former college bros (even when they all dropped out of college, ergo zip degree).
And that the practice isn’t limited to big and tech companies. Smaller companies do it too.
Just recently, I talked with three people who got hired after a friend or former colleague opened the front door for them. While it’s not true for all fields, the degree–when considered–is just to know you did the work to get one. It’s part of the prize of admission into the club.
People STILL hire people they know. Therefore already trust.
Network. That was my unsolicited advice.
As well as if I were to add to that comment thread (and I didn’t want to write more of a novelette than I already had), I’d say:
Learn to chat people up. Face-to-face. Talk about code, but be able to dish on Brancusi or Herbert Marcuse (who predates Bernie Sanders),or Theater of the Absurd (which I’d swear has laid the foundation for reality tv). How’s that for esoteric? Cultivate friends. A diverse bunch preferably.
I’d end by advising parents: Tell your kids you’re only shelling out for a practical degree if you must. Though honestly, it better be because they want one. It’s no sure bet for a v.c. high a** return on your investment. Getting a job working with ones hands just because you’re thinking those jobs don’t get outsourced to Japan is no guarantee, either. In landing a job. Or keeping one.
Robot nurse, anyone?