This is something I have been thinking about a lot lately. This article is not just specific to Designers – it also applies to Developers (I just shortened the title for the sake of the article promotion). If you asked me this same question a few years ago, my answer may have been very different to now.
Back when I was studying my degree I was operating in the frame of mind that the degree was everything. How else could a student get motivated to spend hundreds of hours doing all that work? If you are studying a degree, and you see the degree as trivial, then chances are you won’t be too worried about passing it.
I was a self-taught Designer before I started my degree. But, I am always uneasy about stating I have X numbers of years experience because some people don’t consider undergraduate years as valid experience. For instance, some jobs ask for a minimum of “2+ years post-graduate experience”, which makes you feel anything you done before that degree is worthless.
I worked quite a few places as a Designer before I graduated – I was never a lazy student. My degree was 4 years long, and for my 3rd year I worked for Intel in Dublin as an Intern. Outside of the US, the Dublin site is the 4th largest in the world, with 5,000 employees. During my time there I worked on everything from Web Development, to Logo identities and Branding initiatives internally. It was an invaluable experience seeing how the corporate world works. I wouldn’t necessarily want to experience it again any time soon though. But… if we were to go by some agencies requirements, that whole experience I had there doesn’t count? Huh?
Over the years I have encountered a lot of really talented Designers and Developers. And guess what? They didn’t all have degrees. Pardon?
Yes, that’s right… a lot of them were self-taught. Personally, I think someone who is a self-taught Designer/Developer should be more appealing employment wise because it shows that they have had the tenacity to learn a profession without being spoon fed information in a classroom.
When you go to a job interview the reality is you will be grilled about what you have done, and what you can do for the company. That is really what it comes down to.
Most Universities don’t teach Web Design too well. Often because a lot of the academics teaching the subject have been in the academic bubble for quite some time, and aren’t in tune with what’s going on out there. There are exceptions, of course. I found the Graphic Design part of my degree to be taught really well. I learned loads from my tutors, who were all successful Designers turned Lecturers.
I think it is great to have a degree, but looking back at my own experiences, and people I have connected with over the past few years, I view things a little differently now.
Talent should be recognised regardless of any barriers to entry. If you’ve got the skills, you’ve got the job. That’s the way it should be.
What do you think?
Do you agree with me?
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