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Life without a degree?

FletcherFletcher Registered User regular
edited October 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
Hello there! I'm a 23 year old dude, and currently a student at the University of Otago in New Zealand, majoring in computer science and classics.

The problem is that I friggin' hate university!

I've been studying on and off for about five years now, and after all this time have only passed about half of a 3 year bachelor's degree (thanks to switching majors a few times, and failing papers). I am so bored and unmotivated that I'm no longer sure that university or "higher learning" in general is for me, and I'm contemplating dropping it and trying to get a basic full-time job in data entry or something.

The whole time I've been at university, I've watched my friends finish their degrees and move on to high paying jobs, and I've been envious of their drive and ability to motivate themselves. Meanwhile, I've been working a part time job at a video store while doing the bare minimum to keep myself from being kicked out of university.

I HAVE had problems with depression, but now that I'm out of the fog I think I may simply not be cut out for university, whereas previously I thought it was the depression holding me back.

I suppose my main question is "what is life like without a degree?"

I do enjoy working with computers and figuring out solutions, but I hate teaching environments and assignments. I've always had the nebulous goal of "make money doing something with computers", but I've recently realised I have no real desire to make megabuxx.

I would like to live comfortably (i.e. not living paycheck to paycheck forever), but I have no desire for new cars or a fancy house or anything. I have a webcomic that I make a FEW bucks off, and there is the possibility of making more in the future, but I certainly don't want to stake my future on it unless I'm SURE I can make decent money from it.

What are my options if I DO decide to go on without a degree?

What computer-focused careers can I get into (and how) without any formal qualifications apart from high school?

How does self-motivated study/learning in the relevant areas stack up compared to a degree in the field?

TL;DR: Am I throwing my life away by giving up on a degree in computer science?

EDIT: I should also add that while I am currently in NZ, I'm planning to move to England at some point (where there are more jobs etc.)

Fletcher on
«13

Posts

  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    You can always go back A lot of computer jobs are more about skills than if you have a degree or not. Can you code in X, Y, and Z are are you certified in A, B, and C?

    Improvolone on
    Voice actor for hire. My time is free if your project is!
  • bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    my partner dropped out of her undergraduate degree after four years of being messed around with credits and generally not enjoying it. it was a bummer at the time i'm sure, but life goes on and many years later she got into a sweet financial job through other circumstances. now that she has a specific purpose for a degree and is doing something she knows she enjoys, she's smashed her B Acc. in less than two years and will have a CA in another 18 months.

    get out into the world, do what you're passionate about, subsidize it with one of the many many many comfortable, stress-free, non-degree-requiring jobs out there. chances are you might want to go back one day, and you'll probably be in a better position to enjoy it and succeed with it. if not, no worries. all that means is that you've got on fine without it.

    bsjezz on
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  • FletcherFletcher Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    So if I spend a few nights a week teaching myself new stuff (that is applicable to any jobs I'm interested in), it could actually help me get better jobs?

    Good god, how have they not drilled that into me at university? Although I suppose they would benefit from implying that you have to have a degree to do anything

    As I mentioned, I have no real longing to be a massively high earner, but if I can get jobs based on self-motivated study then it certainly makes the prospect of tying to jump into employment more appealing

    So is it actually feasible that i could:

    a) get a basic job in data entry

    b) learn how to code in various languages in my spare time, and pay to get certified in any relevant areas

    and

    c) use my own self-taught knowledge (combined with work experience or a year or so in data entry) to get into a more specialised/better job?

    Fletcher on
  • bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    my suggestion would be to fish around with some temp jobs. often in a temp role there's the opportunity to move on to a permanent administration position, and if you can hold out for that golden chance in a company that you can actually see yourself moving up in, then you've pretty much got a set course. as soon as that first foot's in the door you're as good as any chump with a degree, as long as you can prove your knowledge and commitment in the workplace

    bsjezz on
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  • Susan DelgadoSusan Delgado Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I could be wrong, but it seems like nowadays so many companies looking for computer, IT, hardward, helpdesk folks care more about your certifications than a degree.

    My fiance' is a hardware tech (mostly) and that's the only thing that's really holding him back is that while he's got like 6-7 years of computer experience doing a multitude of things, he doesn't have those fancy shmancy certs to show off.

    Maybe if you're really interested in the field, you go that route, rather than banging your head against a wall at Uni.

    Susan Delgado on
    Go then, there are other worlds than these.
  • ben0207ben0207 Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Fletcher wrote: »
    So if I spend a few nights a week teaching myself new stuff (that is applicable to any jobs I'm interested in), it could actually help me get better jobs?

    Good god, how have they not drilled that into me at university? Although I suppose they would benefit from implying that you have to have a degree to do anything

    As I mentioned, I have no real longing to be a massively high earner, but if I can get jobs based on self-motivated study then it certainly makes the prospect of tying to jump into employment more appealing

    So is it actually feasible that i could:

    a) get a basic job in data entry

    b) learn how to code in various languages in my spare time, and pay to get certified in any relevant areas

    and

    c) use my own self-taught knowledge (combined with work experience or a year or so in data entry) to get into a more specialised/better job?

    All of these are true.

    I'm only 24 and work as a Mac technician for a pretty massive marketing company. I don't have a degree, but I have spent several years scraping by doing crappy but related ITish jobs - I'm not saying it's been a lot of fun for the last 5 years but I'm finally at a point where I'm in a stable full time job that pays very respectably and has a lot of room to grow. I can give you a few bits of advice:

    1: You will need to do a selection of really crappy jobs, and you'll hate them.
    2: Take every single opportunity that comes up, and don't stick to any job for more than about 6 months.
    3: Make friends with everybody. Every single job is to be treated as a networking event, because you don't know when / how these people might one day be useful.
    4: Don't lie. They will find you out. This means interviews, your CV, and every single moment spent with someone above you.
    5: Work hard. I cannot stress how hard you will need to work. This job is a step down in terms of hours worked, and I still do 60 hours a week. Why? Because it gives me a reputation of being a hard worker, which is essential if I change jobs.
    6: Slowly but surely become more specialised. (this is directly tied to points 1 and 2)
    7: When you're not working, devote yourself to studying and becoming better at your job. I mean, you need to still have a life and do non-computer things, but still. Study a lot.

    ben0207 on
  • SixSix Caches Tweets in the mainframe cyberhex Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    You can always spend years working low-level IT jobs without a degree and end up making a career out of it. I'm sure many people will post here talking about how that's what they did. But having one will open more doors, and it may become an issue the further into your career you go.

    Spending your free time learning new things is always a good idea, whether you complete your degree or not. But if you leave now, it will be hard to go back and finish it if you want to. The longer you wait, the harder it will be. I left college at 21 to start working as a web developer for a publishing company. I made a good career for myself, but not having one started to become a barrier for me in that I knew I'd be passed up for some jobs I wanted, as well as not be able to continue my education if I wanted to. I eventually went back and finished my degree when I was 29, but it was a) very expensive, and b) very hard to do at night while working full time.

    If you're truly burnt out on school and not getting anything out of it, leaving may be the best decision for you. With enough hard work, you can likely get your career started without one. But if you can find a way to finish it now, I'd recommend it. All that same hard work will apply after you finish, except now you'll have your degree, and your options for how you take your career will be greater. A degree is not a panacea or a guarantee of a job by any means. But having one is better than not.

    Six on
    can you feel the struggle within?
  • EdilithEdilith Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Improv is right - employers will look favourably on someone who can demonstrate actual knowledge/skill over one that has nothing more to show than a fancy book learnin' degree. I'm not sure how things are in NZ, but over here in Britain the job market is so competitive and universities let so many people in that having a degree isn't a big deal any more (meaning to be employable you must have either very good previous experience or a very good background knowledge of your field).

    I left my Computer Science degree in my 2nd year (at the start of 2010) with depression/anxiety problems so can empathise on some level. I really hated university and wanted nothing more but to leave. However! After actually gathering the courage to see my doctor and speak to my tutor too, I was put on medication and allowed a temp. medical leave. 8 months on, and I am healthier in the noggin and realised I really miss learning and am re-doing my 2nd year with slightly different class choices in a few days. A degree doesn't guarantee you a fancy-pants job but it can be a leg up for some people, but experience is worth a lot more (for example my brother left home and worked for a small computer repair company at 18, then worked up to running one of their new branch stores on his own, and now works for the county in some kind of helpdesk/maintenance role earning pretty decent money).

    It isn't really a big deal to leave university - you can always go back, and a little time out will almost certainly make you realise if it is or isn't for you (whether the course/class choice is wrong for you, or you're more of a hands-on person, etc.).

    If you're serious about leaving, to start off with I would find an entry-level computer-related job but in something that requires at least a little knowledge. If possible I would opt for something like computer repair/maintenance or helpdesk work over data entry.

    Also, if you meant England as in Britain, stab whoever told you there were more jobs over here.

    Edilith on
  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    In the states having a degree is the new High School Diploma.

    I say this as someone who never went to college but has busted ass since the age of 15. As life piles on, it gets increasingly more difficult to find the time and finances to go back to school should you decide to.

    My advice is suffer it the fuck out, if you think college sucks, trying washing dishes for 4 years instead. You need perspective, and honestly change majors before you up and drop out.


    Edit: You can get a "good" job without a degree, but that's all luck and who you know. I'm sure some IT dude somewhere is making 90k/yr because he was just that smart but he's the exception, not the rule. Your chances are much improved with a degree.

    dispatch.o on
  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    If he isn't getting anything out of it and hates it, why should he waste his time there?

    Improvolone on
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  • FletcherFletcher Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    So it isn't particularly inportant that I stick with any one job for a large area of time?

    I mean I know it is important that I not get fired or anything, but it doesn't make me look like a quitter if i move on to another job?

    I'm fine with working shitty jobs until another opportunity presents itself; as i mentioned above i've been working retail for above five years (plus a little telemarketing), so I've developed a thick skin/people skills and I'm not particularly bothered by boring/fruitless work as long as it pays the bills!

    I would never have thought to treat social contact in the workplace as networking, but that certainly makes sense! I make friends fairly easily, but having worked mainly retail i haven't really come across many "this person could help you later on" situations.

    I am perfectly prepared to spend a lot of "spare time" figuring out how to get better at things; as it is i spend most of my time bumming around on the net looking for something to do. Being able to say "I am aiming for this certification" then working toward it sounds very achievable (and rewarding)

    Summer school has always been my favorite part of university; the "learn a bunch really quickly, then put it to use" mindset seems to gel with me. I think part of the reason i find university difficult is the pattern of "learn a few things, wait a week, learn a few more things, wait a week"

    I'm sure they change all the time, but does anybody happen to know what the most widely accepted/important certifications/accreditations are, and how long they take to achieve/how expensive they are? I am PROBABLY looking towards OO programming at the moment, but it certainly couldn't hurt to know what the basics are in a few different disciplines

    thank you guys so much, by the way! I'll wait a while and not make any rash decisions, but I really feel like this may be a good option for me

    Fletcher on
  • ApogeeApogee Lancks In Every Game Ever Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I gotta say that having a degree is a neccessary evil these days. Like NomadicCircle said above, if they can pay someone half your wage to do the same thing, why pay you?

    The economy has been for years moving in a service-oriented direction. Although it sucks to do as a job, sales skills are something that are very difficult to outsource abroad, and so is a good thing to have learned in university. If you are a proven salesman, you'll have a job. It's also not too hard to learn.

    Other soft skills like public speaking and leadership are important in the workplace as well. If all you know how to do is be a codemonkey, you'll end up being a wage-slave (unless you're a genius of some sort).

    My high-school computer teacher passed on probably the best advice I heard for IT majors - don't be an IT major, unless you can augment your abilities wth something else. Get a secondary skill that sets you apart from the pack and you'll be much more employable. Find your niche and run with it. If you're a natural leader, sell yourself as a team leader, and take some management classes. If you're a natural salesman, take some sales courses and you'll probably find a job in selling IT solutions. Don't just be 'the IT guy', because we already have millions of those.

    tl;dr, I'd stay in school and carve out a speciality for yourself. Doesn't matter much what it is, I'm just spouting popular examples. Soft skills are hard to learn and rare; it's harder to find a IT specialist who can write a good memo than it is to find one who can do math. Make yourself a rare commodity and you'll have no trouble.

    Apogee on
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  • ChanusChanus Harbinger of the Spicy Rooster Apocalypse The Flames of a Thousand Collapsed StarsRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    dispatch.o wrote: »
    In the states having a degree is the new High School Diploma.

    I say this as someone who never went to college but has busted ass since the age of 15. As life piles on, it gets increasingly more difficult to find the time and finances to go back to school should you decide to.

    My advice is suffer it the fuck out, if you think college sucks, trying washing dishes for 4 years instead. You need perspective, and honestly change majors before you up and drop out.


    Edit: You can get a "good" job without a degree, but that's all luck and who you know. I'm sure some IT dude somewhere is making 90k/yr because he was just that smart but he's the exception, not the rule. Your chances are much improved with a degree.

    I hear this a lot, but my anecdotal evidence begs to differ.

    I have no degree and make a decent living as basically the IT department for a small company. I would also add that about half the people I know in IT didn't go to or at least never finished college and just got certs. A couple of them have made a very nice living out of it.

    It's more about your own drive and how well you put yourself out there than having a piece of paper saying you went to university.

    I'm not saying Uni is worthless, but it's not for everybody, and it's absolutely not necessary.

    Chanus on
    Allegedly a voice of reason.
  • DeebaserDeebaser on my way to work in a suit and a tie Ahhhh...come on fucking guyRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Fletcher wrote: »

    So is it actually feasible that i could:

    a) get a basic job in data entry

    It will be a lot harder getting this job without a bachelor's degree. You will be competing with people that have your identical skillset (being able to enter data), but have a degree. Many positions have hiring requirements, meaning the hiring manager could think you are completely awesome and want to hire you but be unable to because of corporate policy.

    Fletcher wrote: »
    b) learn how to code in various languages in my spare time, and pay to get certified in any relevant areas

    Are you really going to do that if you're finding it difficult/annoying getting your undergraduate degree? It's even more difficult to do things in your spare time when you're working 40 hours a week.

    Fletcher wrote: »
    c) use my own self-taught knowledge (combined with work experience or a year or so in data entry) to get into a more specialised/better job?

    It's possible, but it isn't likely. Stay in school. You can tough out a BA. It doesn't need to be Computer Science, but you need at least a BA with a decent GPA in something.

    Deebaser on
  • FletcherFletcher Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I do realise that if I decide to give up on a degree, it will limit my options a lot

    But I honestly didn't realize that getting certified could give you access to similar entry-level jobs as a degree

    The main thing holding me back from moving into a job previously has been the (apparently misinformed) belief that there are NO jobs available in IT without a degree

    I certainly haven't ENTIRELY made up my mind, but given the fact that (for the moment, anyway) I would be perfectly content with an entry-level salary, work and private study is looking like an attractive option.

    At the moment I'm thinking i may stay in New Zealand and try working/studying privately for a year or two, to see if it helps me enjoy my life more. That way if i find myself feeling overly limited (or just plain feeling bad), I ccan still go back to university and finish my degree without having to spend a fuckton

    OR if I try it and am happy with the progress I'm making, I could continue on that path and perhaps consider moving overseas

    Fletcher on
  • SentrySentry Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Having a degree won't let you do anything, but it will let you do everything 10 times easier then not having a degree, if I may adapt a quote from Zig Ziggler.

    If you can suffer through it, I would. Anyone you go up against for a job that has a degree will automatically look better then you by a significant margin.

    Sentry on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    wrote:
    When I was a little kid, I always pretended I was the hero,' Skip said.
    'Fuck yeah, me too. What little kid ever pretended to be part of the lynch-mob?'
  • SpudgeSpudge Witty comments go next to this blue dot thingyRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I am (was) an IT guy without any college whatsoever. At my peak before the "recession" I was making 58,000. Not bad for a non degree holding semi-professional

    For getting into the IT field, it's pretty easy even if you don't have a degree. Sure you'll start at the bottom rung (helpdesk, or maybe desktop support) but it's a start and a good one at that. I started in the field at about 8.75/hr and within 2 years was making 20/hr (USD)

    I have no college, no certs, no nothing. All I had to do was prove that I can do technical work and have a capacity for critical thought. Now I'm an R&D tech for HP

    Spudge on
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  • FletcherFletcher Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Deebaser wrote: »
    Fletcher wrote: »

    So is it actually feasible that i could:

    a) get a basic job in data entry

    It will be a lot harder getting this job without a bachelor's degree. You will be competing with people that have your identical skillset (being able to enter data), but have a degree. Many positions have hiring requirements, meaning the hiring manager could think you are completely awesome and want to hire you but be unable to because of corporate policy.

    Fletcher wrote: »
    b) learn how to code in various languages in my spare time, and pay to get certified in any relevant areas

    Are you really going to do that if you're finding it difficult/annoying getting your undergraduate degree? It's even more difficult to do things in your spare time when you're working 40 hours a week.

    Fletcher wrote: »
    c) use my own self-taught knowledge (combined with work experience or a year or so in data entry) to get into a more specialised/better job?

    It's possible, but it isn't likely. Stay in school. You can tough out a BA. It doesn't need to be Computer Science, but you need at least a BA with a decent GPA in something.

    I am almost certain that I can get a data entry job. There are plenty going in my town at the moment, and I've inquired and been told that a) the only requirement is a decent typing speed and b) they are short of applicants of any kind

    But that is certainly not the job I'd be aiming for in the long run, and I do honestly believe that I can motivate myself to study if it actually has an effect and gives me the reward of certification

    As I mentioned above, summer school is where I am happiest because I can learn a bunch quickly, and there is a reward for it. The times i feel most satisfied with myself are when I am working full-time over summer break WHILE studying at summer school; I love it when my time is filled with things that a) earn me money and b) reward/recognize my study efforts

    Fletcher on
  • gunther89gunther89 Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Towards the end of college, I absolutely hated it and I can sympathize on some level. I think you can get into a lot of entry level CS related jobs just with the excuse that you are still learning it in University. I don't know if the certificate is more important in NZ but use that as an advantage to get experience in the job you want asap.

    Also, though this is something I never did in college, talking to profs about your direction after college would be good. I'm sure they have plenty of experience having to talk to similarly poised students.

    It seems like you are content to do data entry and I think that you should do/try it while you are on/off school. Most importantly, keep your options open and continue studying while exploring. You might just find something you are interested in that you might not have thought of seriously. Or you might hate data entry, who knows. Just do it

    gunther89 on
  • Sir CarcassSir Carcass I have been shown the end of my world Round Rock, TXRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I started at my company doing data entry for $11.50 an hour. A year later I was a supervisor in that department. A year after that I transferred to another department with another jump in pay, doing something completely different. I've been in that department for 2 years now and have no desire at the moment to change. I won't say what I'm making now, but it's significantly more than $11.50 an hour (though probably less than what I would've been making as an entry level programmer). This is without a degree (6 classes shy, which I'll probably never finish at this point, it's probably been too long).

    Yes, having a degree will make getting a good paying job in a field you like easier, but for most you can also work your way up the hard way. And not everyone ends up doing something they love. I think as long as you don't hate your job, you're doing okay.

    If nothing else, taking a break from school to work for a while may give you motivation to finish later. It happened to me, until I burnt myself out again taking 20 hours a semester and 9 hours each summer session for 3 years.

    Sir Carcass on
  • SentrySentry Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    A lot of this anecdotal evidence is great, because it shows you CAN get a good job without a degree with some hard work, but it also presupposes the notion that the company you work for will never go out of business or that you will never be downsized.

    Once that happens you are not necessarily back to square one, but you are still going to be competing for jobs against people with equal experience AND a degree, and in every one of those situations you will likely lose.

    Sentry on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    wrote:
    When I was a little kid, I always pretended I was the hero,' Skip said.
    'Fuck yeah, me too. What little kid ever pretended to be part of the lynch-mob?'
  • SixSix Caches Tweets in the mainframe cyberhex Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    think also not about the job you can get today, but the job you want next.

    And after that.

    It's certainly possible to have a great career without a degree. In a lot of cases, you're going to start hitting a ceiling of the kinds of jobs you can get without one. Then you'll be faced with a situation of taking less money, not being able to further your career much at all, or going back to school at a point in your life where you may have more demands on your money and time.

    Six on
    can you feel the struggle within?
  • DeebaserDeebaser on my way to work in a suit and a tie Ahhhh...come on fucking guyRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Six wrote: »
    think also not about the job you can get today, but the job you want next.

    And after that.

    It's certainly possible to have a great career without a degree. In a lot of cases, you're going to start hitting a ceiling of the kinds of jobs you can get without one.


    ^This. Also just to add that the ceiling may not bother you at 24, but your attitude may change when you get older and you're locked out of some positions and behind in career development.

    Deebaser on
  • RuckusRuckus Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    In my experience, A one year certificate course at a Technical College and three years of experience trumps a CompSci degree every time. I also hold exactly 1 other certification: My CompTIA A+ from 2003.

    Ruckus on
  • SentrySentry Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Ruckus wrote: »
    In my experience, A one year certificate course at a Technical College and three years of experience trumps a CompSci degree every time. I also hold exactly 1 other certification: My CompTIA A+ from 2003.

    Until you come up against someone with the same certification, the same experience, and the degree. In which case enjoy working the IT desk at Best Buy.

    Sentry on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    wrote:
    When I was a little kid, I always pretended I was the hero,' Skip said.
    'Fuck yeah, me too. What little kid ever pretended to be part of the lynch-mob?'
  • SpudgeSpudge Witty comments go next to this blue dot thingyRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Sentry wrote: »
    Ruckus wrote: »
    In my experience, A one year certificate course at a Technical College and three years of experience trumps a CompSci degree every time. I also hold exactly 1 other certification: My CompTIA A+ from 2003.

    Until you come up against someone with the same certification, the same experience, and the degree. In which case enjoy working the IT desk at Best Buy.

    In my experience I'm gonna call this out

    I've worked for multinationals - Aerospace, financial, oil and gas, etc. I've trumped many degree holders with just my experience (no degrees or certs at all). My last two jobs I beat out people with the same experience that held degrees/certs

    I'm not saying it is a guaranteed win but it's not inevitable that a degree holder will always beat a non-holder. It comes down to confidence and the ability to show you can learn and adapt to new technologies/practices

    Spudge on
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  • SentrySentry Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Spudge wrote: »
    Sentry wrote: »
    Ruckus wrote: »
    In my experience, A one year certificate course at a Technical College and three years of experience trumps a CompSci degree every time. I also hold exactly 1 other certification: My CompTIA A+ from 2003.

    Until you come up against someone with the same certification, the same experience, and the degree. In which case enjoy working the IT desk at Best Buy.

    In my experience I'm gonna call this out

    I've worked for multinationals - Aerospace, financial, oil and gas, etc. I've trumped many degree holders with just my experience (no degrees or certs at all). My last two jobs I beat out people with the same experience that held degrees/certs

    I'm not saying it is a guaranteed win but it's not inevitable that a degree holder will always beat a non-holder. It comes down to confidence and the ability to show you can learn and adapt to new technologies/practices

    The fact that you think your anecdotal evidence trumps the notion that someone with a degree will typically edge out someone without it is absolutely laughable. You can come off as affable and charming as you want in an interview, but on paper you will come off worse then someone with a degree, which might mean you don't even GET the interview.

    Sentry on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    wrote:
    When I was a little kid, I always pretended I was the hero,' Skip said.
    'Fuck yeah, me too. What little kid ever pretended to be part of the lynch-mob?'
  • Sir CarcassSir Carcass I have been shown the end of my world Round Rock, TXRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Spudge wrote: »
    I'm not saying it is a guaranteed win but it's not inevitable that a degree holder will always beat a non-holder. It comes down to confidence and the ability to show you can learn and adapt to new technologies/practices

    Yep. If a hiring manager is making their decision based solely on a degree, they're not a very good hiring manager.

    Yes, a degree is better than no degree, but not having a degree does not relegate you to a lifetime working at Best Buy.

    Sir Carcass on
  • SixSix Caches Tweets in the mainframe cyberhex Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Nobody is saying it's inevitable. You're missing the point.

    Of course, anyone who's hard-working and talented enough can get a great job, with or without a degree. But the degree makes it easier and opens more doors, especially once you get past entry-level jobs. It's also a lot easier to finish it now than quit and go back later.

    Edit: Fixed a typo that changed the meaning of that sentence. I meant the degree makes it easIER, not easy. Finding a job is almost never easy.

    Six on
    can you feel the struggle within?
  • SheepSheep Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2010
    If the OP wants to stay in the computer field, but not necessarily computer science, he may consider private education and obtaining numerous certifications.

    That's basically the way to go in the US at the moment. Most people take a two year community college program since tuition is cheap and the colleges have access to high end enterprise hardware for training.

    Get your CCNA, Convergence +, A+, MCSE, etc. That matters more to employers than your English credits from University.

    This is the US, though. New Zealand may have a different corporate culture.

    Sheep on
  • RuckusRuckus Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I just remembered that my "One year certificate course" was actually part of a two year program for which I skipped the first year.

    Elaboration on my Career thus far:

    June 2003, graduated college
    (unemployed)

    Sept 2003, started as "Network Assistant" reporting to the IT Director for a Small/Medium Business (10-20 users, about the same number of workstations, 1 Windows Domain Controller/SQL/File Server, 1 other SQL Server, and one Oracle Server). I was the only applicant for this job that A) had related certification, B) Completed the interview quiz (questions on Windows AD, general troubleshooting, scenarios, etc), and C) I heard one of the other applicants actually cried.

    March 2006, interviewed and was hired as a Information Systems Assistant reporting to the Director of IT (really there was only the two of us) for a Medium/Large Business (100-150 users, market in 7 Provinces, ~100 workstations, ~20 servers including Domain Controllers, Exchange, Proprietary Database, file servers, and all connected across the country via Checkpoint VPN devices. A few months after hiring my supervisor mentioned that I had beaten out three other applicants who were recent CompSci graduates because I had more applicable training and experience. In Fall 2009, this company filed for bankruptcy protection, was bought out and rolled into a much larger company, and as a result all of the financial and IT staff were layed off. Most of us still meet up on a regular basis for dinner, including my supervisor.

    We were all notified of the layoffs on Sept 1, and we were kept on until Oct 15. I started my current job as a Desktop Support/System Admin on Nov 15, 2009. I know one of the other applicants to make the interview stage was a CompSci. This company easily qualifies as "Large", with 2000+ users in at least 6 provinces, 1000+ workstations, and I don't know how many servers. Personally, I take care of most of our IT operations in Manitoba, which includes about a hundred users, 60+ workstations, and a few servers.

    So that's what a College certificate course can get you.

    Ruckus on
  • kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Ruckus wrote: »
    I just remembered that my "One year certificate course" was actually part of a two year program for which I skipped the first year.

    Elaboration on my Career thus far:

    June 2003, graduated college
    (unemployed)

    Sept 2003, started as "Network Assistant" reporting to the IT Director for a Small/Medium Business (10-20 users, about the same number of workstations, 1 Windows Domain Controller/SQL/File Server, 1 other SQL Server, and one Oracle Server). I was the only applicant for this job that A) had related certification, B) Completed the interview quiz (questions on Windows AD, general troubleshooting, scenarios, etc), and C) I heard one of the other applicants actually cried.

    March 2006, interviewed and was hired as a Information Systems Assistant reporting to the Director of IT (really there was only the two of us) for a Medium/Large Business (100-150 users, market in 7 Provinces, ~100 workstations, ~20 servers including Domain Controllers, Exchange, Proprietary Database, file servers, and all connected across the country via Checkpoint VPN devices. A few months after hiring my supervisor mentioned that I had beaten out three other applicants who were recent CompSci graduates because I had more applicable training and experience. In Fall 2009, this company filed for bankruptcy protection, was bought out and rolled into a much larger company, and as a result all of the financial and IT staff were layed off. Most of us still meet up on a regular basis for dinner, including my supervisor.

    We were all notified of the layoffs on Sept 1, and we were kept on until Oct 15. I started my current job as a Desktop Support/System Admin on Nov 15, 2009. I know one of the other applicants to make the interview stage was a CompSci. This company easily qualifies as "Large", with 2000+ users in at least 6 provinces, 1000+ workstations, and I don't know how many servers. Personally, I take care of most of our IT operations in Manitoba, which includes about a hundred users, 60+ workstations, and a few servers.

    So that's what a College certificate course can get you.

    100 users and 60 workstations? You run a computer lab and you fix individual problems. That's an admirable job and i'm happy for you. But lots of people like you are going to get outsourced to cloud/citrix-like solutions in the next ten years or so. To me a career in IT means you have skills to survive the death of your particular horse + buggy whip - i.e., some mixture of developing company-wide solutions and independent consulting.

    kaliyama on
    fwKS7.png?1
  • citizenMckeecitizenMckee Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    You can either choose to be a tool for the rest of your life, or be a sharp tool for the rest of your life minus 4years.

    citizenMckee on
  • GanluanGanluan Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I'll throw in my experience here. For background, I have a degree in Computer Systems Engineering and about 5 years experience as a developer. I also conduct interviews to hire entry level developers and work for a company with close to 20,000 employees.

    Someone with experience and a degree will definitely have an edge over those with just experience, assuming the experience is roughly the same. There are very different fields being discussed here - for development, certificates do not mean anything compared to a degree. I've witnessed this myself, and have heard the same from people I know who work at various Microsoft-partnered consulting firms. Experience in this field CAN outweigh a degree, but it definitely puts you at a disadvantage.

    For IT support/systems admin/etc, then certifications can hold more weight when up against a degree. Experience and problem-solving capabilities take more importance simply because school teaches you the theoretical (which can be incredibly important in development) but generally lacks hands on, which is important with actual hands on IT work.

    Ganluan on
  • SliderSlider Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I recently conducted a "friend and college degree" survey. These were the results.

    Friend #1 - Police Officer, Theology degree.
    Friend #2 - Something that involves traveling to Afghanistan, Psychology degree.
    Friend #3 - Army, no degree.
    Friend #4 - Manager, T-Mobile, no degree.
    Friend #5 - Manager, Best Buy, no degree.
    Friend #6 - Communications Manager, Microsoft, no degree.

    Me - Unemployed, English degree.

    Out of seven men, three of them (including me) have college degrees, but I am the only one who is unemployed. Also, it should be noted that I am the only one who isn't married and doesn't have any children.

    What this tells me is that responsibiility forces one to find gainful employment, but that a college degree doesn't automatically equate to employment or, more importantly, a higher salary.

    Slider on
  • RuckusRuckus Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    kaliyama wrote: »
    Ruckus wrote: »
    I just remembered that my "One year certificate course" was actually part of a two year program for which I skipped the first year.

    Elaboration on my Career thus far:

    June 2003, graduated college
    (unemployed)

    Sept 2003, started as "Network Assistant" reporting to the IT Director for a Small/Medium Business (10-20 users, about the same number of workstations, 1 Windows Domain Controller/SQL/File Server, 1 other SQL Server, and one Oracle Server). I was the only applicant for this job that A) had related certification, B) Completed the interview quiz (questions on Windows AD, general troubleshooting, scenarios, etc), and C) I heard one of the other applicants actually cried.

    March 2006, interviewed and was hired as a Information Systems Assistant reporting to the Director of IT (really there was only the two of us) for a Medium/Large Business (100-150 users, market in 7 Provinces, ~100 workstations, ~20 servers including Domain Controllers, Exchange, Proprietary Database, file servers, and all connected across the country via Checkpoint VPN devices. A few months after hiring my supervisor mentioned that I had beaten out three other applicants who were recent CompSci graduates because I had more applicable training and experience. In Fall 2009, this company filed for bankruptcy protection, was bought out and rolled into a much larger company, and as a result all of the financial and IT staff were layed off. Most of us still meet up on a regular basis for dinner, including my supervisor.

    We were all notified of the layoffs on Sept 1, and we were kept on until Oct 15. I started my current job as a Desktop Support/System Admin on Nov 15, 2009. I know one of the other applicants to make the interview stage was a CompSci. This company easily qualifies as "Large", with 2000+ users in at least 6 provinces, 1000+ workstations, and I don't know how many servers. Personally, I take care of most of our IT operations in Manitoba, which includes about a hundred users, 60+ workstations, and a few servers.

    So that's what a College certificate course can get you.

    100 users and 60 workstations? You run a computer lab and you fix individual problems. That's an admirable job and i'm happy for you. But lots of people like you are going to get outsourced to cloud/citrix-like solutions in the next ten years or so. To me a career in IT means you have skills to survive the death of your particular horse + buggy whip - i.e., some mixture of developing company-wide solutions and independent consulting.

    I simplified for brevity and security, but it's definitely far more complex than your interpretation.

    Ruckus on
  • thejazzmanthejazzman Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Thing are probably a little skewed for me because I'm an artist but:

    I don't have a degree and it has been a blessing not to have wasted my time or money. Many people I know within my line of work (I'm not a freelancer or something, I work for a large company where almost everybody has a degree) would rather they hadn't bothered and it has given them absolutely no advantage. Again, I'm talking from the perspective of somebody who's job is 100% reliant on showing ppl stuff you've done. I get that a non-portfolio based career would probably be different.


    Just my 2 cents.

    thejazzman on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • SentrySentry Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Slider wrote: »
    I recently conducted a "friend and college degree" survey. These were the results.

    Friend #1 - Police Officer, Theology degree.
    Friend #2 - Something that involves traveling to Afghanistan, Psychology degree.
    Friend #3 - Army, no degree.
    Friend #4 - Manager, T-Mobile, no degree.
    Friend #5 - Manager, Best Buy, no degree.
    Friend #6 - Communications Manager, Microsoft, no degree.

    Me - Unemployed, English degree.

    Out of seven men, three of them (including me) have college degrees, but I am the only one who is unemployed. Also, it should be noted that I am the only one who isn't married and doesn't have any children.

    What this tells me is that responsibiility forces one to find gainful employment, but that a college degree doesn't automatically equate to employment or, more importantly, a higher salary.

    I'm not sure what you think this shows, but it is probably not what you think it is.

    Sentry on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    wrote:
    When I was a little kid, I always pretended I was the hero,' Skip said.
    'Fuck yeah, me too. What little kid ever pretended to be part of the lynch-mob?'
  • SpudgeSpudge Witty comments go next to this blue dot thingyRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Okay I can fully understand people from both camps doing everything they can to justify their reasoning for attaining/not attaining a degree. That's all fine and such but it misses the point

    The point is you're not guaranteed to be a complete failure/tool if you don't get a degree. You're not guaranteed to be a success if you do. It's all a matter of how well you learn and adapt to your career. Technology is a field that, if you follow certain paths, may not ever require a degree. Yes you can move up from help desk, through the support ladder and up into management or administration (yes I do know CTOs who never spent a day in college). Yes it takes a lot of work, and will most likely require more work without the degree but it is not impossible

    If you do what you love do it well and market yourself properly, then you should be fine regardless of what choice you make. Yes a degree could make things easier, but it's not the end-all solution

    Spudge on
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