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Sunday, 10 July 2011

Degree vs. Experience - the constant battle.

It seems that in today’s economic climate, the battle between formal education and experience seems to be raging fiercely. Is a degree even worth half as much as it was 10 years ago?
Of course, in fields such as medicine, engineering law and other sciences, a degree is obligatory.

Recently I’ve considered furthering my studies. Should I be doing masters? Should I change my field of study? Or should I try and get more work experience under my belt?
Having an Honours degree in Sport Science and working as a personal trainer is comparable to qualifying as a medical doctoral student and working as a nurse. I could have done a 3 month course in fitness and still be equipped to do the same job (provided I had the relevant experience) instead of spending four years of my life as a student and pushing out a thesis.
However, I’m told, you have to start somewhere.
One fallacy, among many, that we’re taught to believe is that getting a degree will get you a well paying job. This is far from the truth. Getting a degree may not even get you a job.

A recent poll on an employment website asked employers what kind of candidate they preferred, one with experience, or one with qualification. Experience won by a landslide. I can’t find the link I had for that so you’re just gonna have to take my word for it.

Employers arent interested in what you know. Only in what you can do! A degree does however, show employers that you are able to see things through to completion. It shows that you have commitment and dedication.
And sometimes your resume won’t even make it to the employer’s desk if it doesn’t accompany a relevant qualification.
Still, there is no substitute for the school of hard knocks.

It goes without saying that education is EXPONENTIALLY better with experience. This is what makes internships so beneficial.

(This is based from the point of view of graduates and young job-seekers)

We tend to leave school/ college with a false concept of reality. Our expectations and what we experience in life are actually poles apart.

Here is a few things that college WONT teach you about the ‘real’ world.

The Godfather
1. No job is beneath you
When you’re asked to do something by your boss, you should do it happily no matter the task (within legal reason, especially if your boss asks you to ‘take care of someone’).
Even if it “isn’t your job”. Doing something outside of your job description is a reflection of your character. Of course, you still have a choice. But do it, and earn greater responsibility and respect.

2 The world doesn’t care how you feel, how hard you worked or what your sacrificed. Just how well you perform.

3. Academic intelligence isn’t everything
In school, the smartest kid with the best scores came out on top. In the real world the best person at the job isn’t always the smartest… just the one that knows how to do something that you don’t (through experience).

4.Naïve honesty
We’re taught to be trusting and that the world is just and fair. The world is never fair and justice is flawed. You will never know the whole truth about everything.
Being completely open and transparent with your thoughts, decisions and actions can lead you into trouble and leave you wide open to be taken advantage of. People look out for themselves, especially in a corporate environment. You need to look out for yourself. Never reveal everything at once. Keep a few bullets for your defence.

5. Problem solving
In class we put up our hands and shout out the answer. Or we point out a problem and someone fixes it. In real life you find the problem, provide the answer AND fix it yourself. Anybody can find problems. Few can provide and follow through with solutions.

6. How to voice your opinion
You think your teacher was hard on you? You can tell your teacher off. Go ahead. They don’t pay your salary. Your boss however, won’t take too likely to it. Bask in the roasting.

7. Team Work
Unless you played in sport through school and in college you won’t grasp the real concept of team work, communicating within a team and handling team responsibilities. Nobody can do things alone and people that think they can, end up with a lot more stress and far more enemies than they can deal with. If you need help, ask. That is also a form of team work.

8. A degree doesn’t = a job
The reason school leavers get a degree is to get a job in their desired field. This was true in the 80’s and 90’s. These days every other person has a degree in something and many of them are either unemployed or working in a different field to their qualification.

9.Taking risks and learning by trial and error
Many small businesses started by people just ‘winging it’ and taking things as they come. On the outside we see a working professional with a business, a brand, a plan and a product, when actually, from an insiders view its just one or two individuals doing what comes to them and making decisions and following them through by trial and error. You don’t have to know every single detail of everything in order to succeed.

10. There are more than one way to get to your destination
I had this conception that I would finish high school, graduate from university, get a well paying job and buy my own apartment all by age 23 at least. This seemed like the only logical way to proceed through life and achieve success.
I graduated, spent a year enjoying life and working part-time then ventured overseas, learning valuable life lessons (due to return in a couple of months). We shall see how the rest turns out.

11. Social intelligence and networking
A fundamental key to human function.
Seeing as we all function within a society. It affects every aspect of your life (dating, family, friends and work). It is the key aspect to networking. Take a look around at some of the most successful people in the world. If you don’t have a unique idea or product, you better be socially intelligent.
Take Jacob Zuma, the president of South Africa for instance. When he 1st arrived on the scene, singing and dancing and causing an uproar, we thought, how could people ever vote for such a man. But scratch the surface and you’ll hear stories of his benevolence and compassionate demeanour. A story from a ‘friend of a friend’ told a tale of an esteemed Jacob Zuma at an important lunch where he noticed the strain taken on by the waitress that was serving the table. He quickly got up and helped her with her tasks of serving the prestigious guests and kindly asked her name and if she was ok. He knows how to read people, treat people, and talk to people. Charisma- social intelligence- will get you everywhere.

Here's some food for thought. You do the dishes...

“…The fastest runner doesn't always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn't always win the battle. The wise sometimes go hungry, and the skillful are not necessarily wealthy. And those who are educated don't always lead successful lives. But time and chance happen to them all.”
                                                                    - Ecclesiastes 9 v. 11

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