Had a very short phone interview this afternoon. She called, we exchanged pleasantries. She asked if I had my degree (not sure why she didn’t ask that in email last week). I said not yet. She said they don’t consider anyone without a degree or diploma (corporate policy). I said thanks for letting me know. The end.

It’s been a while since I’ve come across that. KW is pretty tech-centric, and there’s a dearth of good tech folks, so it’s rarer and rarer for companies to have that policy. Granted, insurance tends to be in the last century.

I tend to wonder, when I hear of that, what the company’s workforce is actually like. Some of the most brilliant people I know and have worked with are no more formally educated than I am. And it makes me wonder if places like that possess any rockstars at all. (As Robyn also noted, it implies a corporate-wide inflexibility in thinking, too.)

Of course, I also know many, many people whose jobs have nothing to do with their degrees. At my last job, one of the managers had a degree in English/Anthropology, from Trent, no less. He worked in IT managing AS/400 applications development. Good thing he had that degree…

I’d like to finish my degree. I enjoy studying English. I imagine it would feel good as an accomplishment. And when life stops demanding as much of my time, energy, and money as I can spare, I have every intention of finishing up.

But let’s face it, everything on my resume that makes me valuable came from working. Seeing, doing, asking, learning in ways that don’t necessarily have anything to do with a book and a classroom full of 18-year-olds. And, of course, there are already jobs for which there were no curricula when I was in school, and I’m sure there are more and more coming down the pipe.

2 Comments on We don’t need no education.

  1. I learned both straight-up knowledge and ways of thinking in my degrees, and since it was (mostly) science I’m not sure how I would’ve ever got to learn those on the job. But in any field the focus is different when there’s no customers/clients as the ultimate driving force, I think; school gives you the freedom to have your thoughts roam farther than they might do for a company. It’s a luxury.

    I still have lots of conversations like this:

    Q: So, where did you do your computer studies?
    Me: Oh, I did one course in high school back in 1987.
    Q: ?!??
    Me: My undergrad’s in zoology and human biology, and my master’s is in protected area conservation.
    Q: Sooo, how did you end up doing health promotion information and all the computery internetty stuff?
    Me: There was a recession and the government changed. Long story.

    The algorithmic approaches of evolutionary zoology and the types of analysis I used in conservation actually ARE more useful in my work than is obvious, even though the fields of application appear very different. I think I do use my degrees.

    Then again, people in the 19th century managed to teach themselves a hell of a lot of good science, so as you say a degree is really just a shortcut. It’s the ability (and willingness) to learn that’s key, isn’t it? No degree for that.

    And, yeah, what I (and you) will be doing in 5 years hasn’t been invented yet, never mind having a curriculum. I hate that question.

  2. I had an interview at a University in K/W last week. They didn’t seem to care that I never finished my econ degree. All they really cared about was my experience. On the other hand, Google seemed to care a lot that I didn’t finish my degree, and didn’t seem to care that I had years of experience doing the exact same job as the one in question. Funny how that works out.

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