How important is your college degree to the Tech Industry?
One successful techy believes that your college degree does not matter to the Tech Industry.
Vladimir Mendoza found his way into a fruitful technical career. He is a lead product designer of Shared Demos, a platform used to create demonstrations for product and technical marketing managers.
Mendoza found his way into this position without graduating from the college that he attended, UC Santa Barbara. He discovered early on, by looking around at his co-workers that, at 23, he is far younger than the majority of his co-workers.
“I decided not to waste my time in school, and not to build up debt, like all of the people I knew from high school. I invested in myself and I took time to study and perfect my craft.” he said, “I designed my own apps, and websites for other people, built up an impressive portfolio and applied for a job.”
Mendoza says he believes that, “college degrees are irrelevant in tech.” Furthermore, he insists that, “colleges today are a luxury, in that they cost so much that it is a privilege to attend.”
This way of thinking is common in tech workers tech workers, according to an informal survey posted by Futurology.
Much like other famous tech college drop-outs, including Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, college seemed to be a luxury or a non-necessity.
To successful tech entrepreneurs, college was a luxury of time, effort, and money.
“Why would you be studying it if you could be doing it?” heard a Stanford computer science student at his job interview. The interviewer was Mark Zuckerberg.
A San Francisco State University student had this to say in response to Mark Zuckerberg, “He has a point,” said Jose Berumen. “But the thing is most people don’t know how to do it and that’s why they didn’t study it instead so that they can hope to do it one day.”
Meanwhile, San Francisco State Student Tobi Mendoza says, “Well, I’ve always had a coach that told me there are two kinds of people in this world those who watch and those who do.”
Given that the cost to attend college is higher now than it has ever been, many individuals are finding themselves at odds college.
Just 38 percent of students who have graduated college in the past decade strongly agree that their higher education was worth the cost, according to 30,000 alumni polled by Gallup-Purdue Index.
In addition to those concerned with the cost of attendance, there are those with the concern of the long term value of their degree.
Jocelyn says an education is an important and here’s why.
Statistics tell us that only 4.7 percent of Hispanic Americans will earn a doctorate degree. The disparity between White Americans and Hispanic Americans is due to many factors, among those the most influential being socioeconomic reasons. There is a higher dropout rate, at all levels of education, for hispanics and latinos than white americans.
Jocelyn Guizar hopes to close this education gap by pursuing a doctorate in philosophy.
“ Despite every disadvantage I’ve had at the starting line, I’ve decided to make it through the end of the finish line with a doctorate in hand.”
Nicole Canedo, a San Francisco State student agrees with Jocelyn.
“People of a certain status have the privilege of having resources other than college.” Canedo says, “How many people [outside of the tech industry] are willing to hire someone that doesn’t have a formal education?”
Since grade school, it seems that there is a grand campaign to sell the value of of a college education.
Educators such as Principal Vito Chiala of Overfelt High School push young students into the trenches of the college education, “We need to continue to make Overfelt a place where each of our students will graduate ready for college and 21st Century careers.”
There is an added pressure to find a meaningful and profitable degree. Colleges now offer many choices for majors, ranging from the traditional to the to the new and provocative. Students must decide whether to study French History, Human Sexuality, Philosophy, or Computer Programing.
There is a perhaps false dichotomy that pits STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) majors against Liberal Arts Majors.
Most people would bet that studying computer programing would be the most profitable option and that today’s liberal arts degree is a recipe for debt and regret.
For students like Jocelyn that are seeking education in the Liberal Arts, is there still hope of breaking glass ceilings?
Today, Tech companies are hiring liberal arts students for various roles. Forbes Claims that “That ‘Useless’ Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech’s Hottest Ticket”.
“Prepared by an intellectually rigorous education and trained to think across disciplines, liberal arts graduates can move between tech and non-tech roles at companies, allowing quicker talent movement and growth,” Alice Harra, associate dean of students and director of Reed College’s Center for Life Beyond Reed explains.
Many people have found refuge in the expanding techverse with varying levels of technical experience and varying education levels.
Shubhankar Sharan, an economics major and graduate of UC Santa Cruz, finds himself as a graphic designer for a digital agency in Palo Alto called Regalix.
“To be a designer, you have to know how to photoshop and code. I taught myself how to do this outside of college.”
Frankie Rodriguez, a finance major and graduate of San Francisco State University, is a travel agent for Zendesk, a cloud-based customer support platform which allows quicker and easier interaction between businesses and customers.
“I just wasn’t excited about finance anymore,” said Rodriguez ”I was applying every where hoping for an opportunity. Once I actually got the job, I had to figure out how to do it!”
Nick Pinkerton, a sports journalism major from Santa Clara University, started off his career working for the San Jose Earthquakes in 2009.
Pinkerton made a huge pivot in his career when he began working in the Tech Industry. Today, he is the Creative Services Manager at Regalix.
“‘I’ve always been a leader type and have always had an eye and an ear for excellence,” said Pinkerton, “so I applied for a job that I knew that I could do, despite what I studied in college, and I got it.”
While hopefuls like Jocelyn Guizar invest time and money in their education, there are people who decide to skip out on college all together.
What educators express about the college education is misleading today’s students. College once held the promise of success in the field of their choice. Today, students graduate thousands of dollars in debt, and without the tools to find the career of their choice.
Meanwhile, independently trained college dropouts can find themselves as CEO’s of fortune 500 companies.
The tech industry is truly an anomaly in that it allows for people of all educations and backgrounds an opportunity to showcase their talents, regardless of what they did or did not study in college.
“People don’t pay you to think, they pay you to do,” adimir Mendoza says, “I’m optimistic school will one day be affordable, but until then it isn’t a worthy investment.”