Degrees of Separation
Years ago I was considering my future; I was playing semi-pro football back then and really that was my focus. But 2 knee injuries later and it became very clear that I would have to take a different journey in life.
I’d made it clear that university wasn’t an option for me even though I qualified. ‘Join the army’ was the advice I was given aged 18…. . That was back in 2001 — so just before Iraq. I’m very pleased I ignored that pearl of wisdom and missed out on an actual war!
It seemed so obvious to everyone else that if you could go to university, you’d be mad not to!
But for me it wasn’t that simple. Is a degree really necessary in life — Is it worth the student loans, debt, and high fees? Or could you actually climb the ladder from the bottom and be further on in your career 3 or 4 years later…..
I suppose it was a personal choice — I didn’t really enjoy the academic environment of school and had no real vocation at the time apart from football. I was really hungry to get out into the workplace and experience life away from the confines of school or formal education.
So I did.
Advertising had always been something I’d felt drawn to. I liked the difference brands could make to people, and I was definitely an avid consumer of stuff.
So, I got my (limited) CV together and went out and spoke to some recruiters. I sold myself well, I think, so they lined up some interviews and luckily I got a job at a leading london agency within 3 days of starting the whole process. The timing just seemed to work.
I was probably the most junior in the whole company but I couldn’t care less. I loved it. I threw myself into it head first.
I was determined. My role was within the production department, and I couldn’t have wished for a better start. When you work on the output side of the ideas you interact with everyone from creative directors, MD’s and project managers through to secretaries, mailroom staff and couriers….Apart from seeing how the business ran I was able to realise something that sticks with me to this day — learn from people that are great at what they do, but more importantly make sure you learn from those that aren’t, so you can treat people better, work harder and ultimately be the best version of yourself
Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to work with very open minded people that value skill and ability over whether you are technically qualified, none more so than my business partners Russell and Mark.
I receive lots of CV’s everyday from candidates and can honestly say that a having a degree or not, makes no difference as to whether I interview them.
Ultimately, is a degree useful — it depends.
Is it essential? I think it boils down to your industry and most importantly your personality. I wouldn’t see a doctor who didn’t have one, or get a house built by an architect without proper training for example, but for the most part I think a motivated, industrious and determined individual drives their own career path with far greater bearing than any piece of paper.
For me the most important thing is to learn, learn and never stop learning in whatever way works best for you. I learn better by being involved in the practical application of things, interacting with skilled people while doing the work in situ. I could read a book for days and take virtually nothing away from it except a headache.
Nothing beats hard work, dedication and finding a passion. It’s often used as a cliche but if you find something you love doing, you never work a day in your life.