A degree solves an information problem. It conveys information to your employer, your friends, and your coworkers. It shows that you have the level of competence required for your job or career.
A degree is a signal. It’s a powerful signal to others that you’ll be able to complete demanding work, and you’ve put in the effort to obtain the degree.
With the rise of the internet and technology, you can create your own signal to employers to serve a similar purpose as a degree.
How do you create this signal? How do you solve the information problem?
Create on the internet.
You can build your own credentials by writing about your learnings from the real world. You can create a portfolio of learning experiences that signal to your future employer that you are hard-working, capable, driven, and you have learned the necessary information for the role.
(Note: This is an alternative way of thinking about education and credentialing. Traditional degrees serve an important role in society, and I understand the need.)
Take the time and money used for a traditional education and create a signal to future employers and connections.
Some examples of ways you can convey this information:
Write essays about topics you’re interested in
Take courses related to these topics and write summaries
Start a podcast or newsletter
Tweet about your niche interest
Start a side business and write about your learning
Invest in Real Estate, Startups, or Stocks and explain your rationale through writing
You must be public about this information in order to signal to your future employers. Post your thoughts on a personal website and create a newsletter to stay connected with others.
When applying to new roles, send your portfolio of learning and experiences along with your resume.
We’re taught all the wrong things in school. We’re taught to wait until you’ve earned the degree to start the work.
The world is different now.
Start first and learn on the job. The internet allows for low-cost experimentation. If you’re interested in sales, attempt to sell a product online. Ask to help a friend sell their business or try to sell a service you offer. You’ll learn quickly about sales and you can write online about your experience. Employers will be impressed about the initiative.
If you’re interested in a career in investing, invest your own money today. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but your rationale should be sound and explained in public. Create proof that you understood the fundamentals in making your investment and take risks under your own name.
Work at a small scale to learn the basics. When you hit a roadblock, learn what is most important and timely with books, YouTube, and MOOCs. Experiment and get better.
The key to all of this is simple – don’t wait until you’ve learned everything to start. Become an investor today. Become a salesperson today. You don’t need permission.
MyMBA is built on this very idea. We’re looking to prove our learning in public and leverage this learning to make connections online.