photo by Alex Jones.
How you got there doesn’t matter.
With all my respect to higher education, a degree mentioned in one’s CV has often as much to do with the professional skills as one’s looks. There is most probably a link between your white collar and your management skills, but having a white collar doesn’t make you a good manager.
In IT the link between the diploma and actual skills is even more loose. Not only the first does not lead to the other, but having great programming or project management skills does not depend on having the degree at all. You might be a self-educated gem that did not follow the classical old scheme:
Degree – > Experience – > Skills
But instead the more real life inspired pattern:
Urge to do something – > Self-education – > Skills
Because of this hiring philosophy, we are putting in our job ads as a requirement: a Degree OR experience equivalent
The best hires we have ever had were from people, who have proved they can deeply understand the problem. Years of experience, diplomas and awards are all welcome, but not that important for us. Our efforts during an interview are focused on getting to know what you can actually get done. For example, knowing how to structure a database in theory is important, but not enough to make it happen.
Like many other development companies, we have a four hour “Practical Test” in our recruitment procedure, when candidates can prove what they can actually do.
Some thoughts on higher education, circa 2016
(provoked by the suggested Google searches)
Well, it is worth it…
When living in a world of abundant information, the hard part is fighting back the chaos and picking the right road. And this is the point where the now-trending skill-oriented tutorials on the internet are not enough. The broader understanding of the matters helps you progress and know what to look for. And this is where the “learn alone” practice cracks. When alone “in the dark” it is hard to see the big picture and draw a road ahead. University is the best place to start getting oriented in a certain field. It is a magical place, gathering people with common interests and professors with all the time dedicated to tutor you. The priceless senior people in the companies would never have that much time for the younger employees.
…but learn to unlearn
Education can definitely help, but it is very likely that “education” will form thinking patterns you might need to unlearn after, because the environment transforms dynamically, because the education programs are often obsolete and mismatch with reality is probable. The first step towards unlearning is getting to know it is an option at all… “Question everything!”. And it is not about ceasing to use a certain tool for example, the problem might be much, much broader. Only deep understanding of the concepts you operate with will help you alter your thinking/working pattern.
There are no rules
The only rule is to get quality stuff done. What road brought you to the skills arsenal needed to be a .NET developer or Project Manager should be of no importance to the employers.