Degree vs. Experience


Last week on Morning Edition there was some college graduate from Nevada talking about how he voted for Obama and felt Obama was overwhelmed by the pressure of being the leader of the free world. The topic was about how Nevada has high unemployment. That guy opened a door to two topics with that one comment. I’m going to go with the jobs angle first.

For some reason we’re still somewhat allowing young adults not do anything until the jobs, I mean “REAL JOBS” (Mitch Daniels words not mine), are available for these college grads. The problem as I’ve said before is if your were 24 or 25 or even older in 09’  and still haven’t gotten a job you’re now in your late 20’s and 30’s with no work experience how can those degrees serve you well? In the last few years we’ve really seen the focus on degree vs. experience take hold and become accepted as a natural theme. Who hasn’t seen those late night commercials about people just becoming bosses because they went to school and got a degree to be a boss? The missing part is that a school teaches you what to do not how to do it. That was a topic at some point last week too, how these new employees aren’t able to deal with things in real time. It’s not just police and doctors that have to think out of the box and use their own gut judgment to get things done. That’s when experience comes into to play, you’ve been there you know how to deal with certain things. College or a trade school can’t prepare you for everything.

Let’s look at it like this, there’s two dudes Todd and James looking to do the same thing career wise. Todd went to college in 05 graduated in 09’ can’t find a job, I mean “real job” and goes back to school figuring things will be better for him in four more years. So more student loans and living with his parents or they help Todd out with rent as he has no intention on getting a job that he feels is beneath him. James went to a two year community college in 05’. In 06 gets a job at a place for what he’s going to school for, doesn’t go back to school his second due to financial issues. Fastforward and both men decide to go for a manager position at the same place. The place James has spent over six years at. So who gets that job, Todd who has the degrees but no experience or James who has been there and knows how things work at that place but doesn’t have the degrees? This happens a lot and most of the time it would be those in James shoes that comes away feeling disrespected. James will be told maybe he should go back to school because the degree is more important then hands on experience in today’s world.

The thing is if these students continue to have a hard a time getting “real jobs” the spin will really focus on them being the victims in all this unemployment talk. We’d totally overlook the fact those college grads aren’t trying to just work, bring a paycheck home from somewhere. The truth is we all know the story of many people who got a job just to get money and support themselves or their family and it was supposed to be temporary. That 6 month to maybe a year gig has now turned into five years. College grads aren’t trying to have that happen to them so they just don’t work. Of course I’m not saying all college students and graduate just the ones that the news media seems to find lounging at a coffee shop or Barnes & Noble.

I for one can’t understand how arrogant people are to even think not having some work experience or just having a job to have something for your resume isn’t an option. I’m in my 30’s and I remember the summer program during high school where you worked somewhere. That helped you get a job as a young adult. You’d get a job over someone who hasn’t had any work experience. Now it’s all about a degree and that’s not a bad thing but when you go to place and your workers have to train you to be their bosses there is a real disconnect to me. I get some people don’t want that pressure of being a boss and if they choose to go for that job and get overwhelmed by the pressure they quit. But to have someone come in and have your employees train them is just odd. I personally rather go with that person who has done the job and knows the job than someone who has never worked AT ALL and has showed up with a degree in hand expecting the get the gig. Again that’s how it used to work. That whole job requirement of so many years of experience is so negotiable these days and even more so if you have a college degree. I’m still not convinced that’s a good thing but it is how things are now.


2 thoughts on “Degree vs. Experience

  1. OK I am a bit uncertain on this one. I am a college graduate but…. I worked the entire time I was in school. I have worked at least 30 hours per week since I was 19 years old. Also I I worked in the same field that I am now employed. I completed my degree back in 2002 and went on to get a graduate degree, But there are certain things that I feel that school can NOT teach you. I am thankful that I have a job during this awful economy, but I believe it is the combination of experience and education that has kept me afloat. Education alone is not going to cut it and now experience alone won’t either… The only fool proof way is to tough it out and do both… You need the experience to know how to get the work done, but the education to be able to make good decisions, remember you can work at a company for 20 years and not be privy to certain information, or not be exposed to how the organization functions as a whole especially if the management style is top down…This is where the education kicks in, You will know how to make a good decision and implement it even if you were never part of that process.

    • You made my point, that’s an old way of doing things. The sad thing is I’m not saying college students or grads don’t work while in school or even just do something until that dream job comes up. What I’m saying is the news media seems to target those who can afford to not work until that job they want is available. So if they haven’t worked at all since 08’ and in 2013 or 2014 that chance comes for them and they lose out, if enough of those grads go through that that will be the new topic… Grads will be victims because they now can’t get jobs that are hiring because they chose not to work somewhere in 5 to 6 years. The news will have it where we should feel sorry for them but if it’s some single mother in the inner city who does that same exact thing she’s labeled lazy. I just heard somewhere some college graduates are moving to Germany to find work, there’s a certain lifestyle you must be apart of to just pack up and move to another country HOPING to find work. My point was these days the news media is just as out of touch with real people in America as they would like us to believe Romney is with theses crazy quotes floating around. Every college student or graduate isn’t going to be able to take that chance but it’s fed to us as normal just like not working at all until that job you feel is worthy of your time comes along. Then comes the fact those with experience because of no degree may not get jobs. So then there is a void, jobs won’t hire this person because of the lack of a degree, those with degrees have never worked so 5 to 6 years down that line that hurts them but this position needs to be filled. Again I’d take someone who has worked and has done the job over a person who because they chose to wait for their dream gig sat out and did nothing. If that person wants to move up the ranks they should go to school or back to school. Inform their employers so if they feel the opportunity for growth isn’t there then use the degree and experience to your advantage. I know way too many people that go to college and try to get a degree in something totally new then get pissed they can’t get a job in that field instead of building on what they’ve been doing for x amount of years. That too is an issue in of itself.

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