I'm in the category of people who are in a permanent leave of absence when it comes to college, or the more technical term a school dropout. This could be the start of a great narrative, or the source of many rejections.
I have experienced both. Rejection can usually be a good story to grab the attention of a crowd. But writing on your resume that you have not completed college or that you hold no degree from a reputable university usually result in a long silence. That is why, despite being a drop out that frequently finds work, I still recommend people to go to college. It just makes it easier.
When looking for a job, I usually send a copy of my resume to at least 10 companies at a time, and among those, I am lucky if one calls me for a follow up. Lucky, not because the employer does not read about my long and relatively accomplished resume, but because I have to hope that among the people that end up reading, one of them will have a similar story to mine.
When one of the decision heads read my resume and notice that there is a gap where my education ends and when the first job starts, that part where I am supposed to toss a funny hat in the air, they can't help but say it out loud:
This one never graduated!
If I am lucky, another of the decision heads will hear this comment and it will trigger a signal in his head. It will cause him to say:
"Performing the job we want to hire for does not necessarily require a degree."
That is the crucial sentence that makes my luck. Those that have not completed a formal education path know that being a programmer is something you can "Google yourself into". The others, who spent a great deal of time studying academics and going through the standard channels of education will have a harder time getting convinced.
But for me, I apply for a job with the hope of finding an accomplice. An insider without a college degree that, through a fluke or luck, ended up in an important enough position to influence his coworkers to hire me.
I consider myself lucky, because for every job I had, I felt this complicity with at least one of the interviewers. Seth Godin would call it, finding someone from your tribe. Doesn't mean that your skills don't matter but succeeding is luck meeting the prepared.
In this day and age, it is an unusual position to find yourself in a job normally reserved for the elites, without following the proper channels. It is becoming more and more common, but still something we have to get over with. Knowledge and experience should be the deciders of our role in our job, but until that can be a universal truth, we will have to hope for strokes of luck so we can find the right person in an organization to give us just the little push we need to get in.
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