scottmac Wed, 12/10/2008 - 17:22

These days, a degree, any degree, is one of the checkbox items that an HR organization will use to filter candidates.

Places like Motorola (this happened to me @ Moto) they were ready to hire, but noted that I hadn't put down my college / degree.

When I told them I didn't have any, and have never attended college, they apologized for running me through the interview mill and said they could only hire people with a degree, ANY degree.

Fortuately, I am one of those with the luck to be "in the right place at the right time, and willing to take a risk" and have made a wonderful career. I love my job.

However, I can't say that you should gamble your life on a few vendor certs, even if they're from Cisco.

Outside the networking community, nobody knows who Cisco is (although the cooking folks are very familiar with Sysco, a wholesale food provider).

Plan on getting, and pursue vigorously, some flavor of (hopefully useful) college degree. It will help you wherever you end up and in nearly any career

If you're strapped for the cash, consider the military, they give you pay, experience, a roof, and cash towards your education and other benefits (Hopefully not too much "excitement"). Companies are looking for ex-mil folks; excellent training, and experience.

Good Luck


jim_berlow Thu, 12/11/2008 - 13:41

I just want to re-iterate what Scott says. Education is always a good thing and I believe that in this field you should always be studying something (degree or not).

I also have no degree and was extremely lucky to get that first job back in the dot com days. Things were very different back then because of the sheer volume of job opportunities. The only way to get around a degree requirement today is to have a ton of experience on your degree (then SOMETIMES they will dismiss the degree requirement). I have also lost several jobs just because I didn't have a degree (I don't know how many times I wasn't even called because I didn't have a degree).

I guess what I am saying is: if you have an opportunity to get a degree - get one. You will find it much, much easier to get started in this field. As Scott mentioned, the military is one way that some folks pay for college and get some experience.

Good luck no matter what you do,


marikakis Fri, 12/12/2008 - 07:22


Though I have the tendency to unconsciously forget about situations in which I have been rejected (not only jobs, it's good for the health ;-), Scott managed to remind me of the time when I was rejected by IBM because I had not earned my degree yet. I needed to complete just one class (out of 60) to earn my degree in a 5-year technical university and still they said no. (The reason I failed the class was that I became obsessed in my last year with cisco equipment and I couldn't help myself from studying for the CCNA. I don't regret that :-)

Some big companies have very strict policies. Others are not so strict. An ISP hired me without a degree and without experience just because I was the network-enthusiasted study-type of person.

Everywhere you go, if somebody wants to pinpoint your weak point, he might try degree, experience/hands-on, constant learning attitude, certifications and I don't know what else (don't take this personally if such a situation occurs, in many cases they just want to pay you less, which is considered normal I suppose). It's hard to obtain all. It needs effort and time. One person does not need all the possible jobs out there, but still it's good to always try to improve ourselves at the time it's more convenient.

Kind Regards,



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