When the degree degrades



When they learned programming using punch cards, students didn't think their skill will go obsolete. Punch cards are the punch line of jokes today. But they were the bleeding edge of technology at some point.

Not only that the method has gone obsolete, the modern computer paradigm makes that sort of programming meaningless. I experienced this when my then employer interviewed a candidate who had worked in the 70s at IBM. He was a computer science graduate with a top GPA and a minor in electronic engineering. He was so knowledgeable. He even knew the meaning of the color of each cable on the motherboard. The only problem was, he was interviewing for a front-end position.

Front-end work still involves programming, but it's a different sort of programming. He got the job, he worked for a couple of months, then he left. It was hard to map the knowledge from one domain into another, even if related.

A friend of mine who had a degree in medical billing and coding, found herself obsolete at her job. After working for three years at a startup, the company grew and they purchased new medical billing software. In a month, they trained the entire staff, and there was nothing left for her to do. All the work was automated and it didn't take long for her employer to kick her out of the company. It was as if her four years degree was no longer worth the money.

The prestigious degree of one generation, becomes irrelevant in the next.