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3 Careers Where You Can Google Your Education

3 Careers Where You Can Google Your Education

As the classic rock icon, Bob Dylan, put it,“The times, they are a changin’.” In the past couple of years, developments in online education have rocked (no pun intended) the world of education to its core. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) made the ground tremble by offering free high quality education to the masses. At the same time, due to the recent financial crisis, jobs are in short supply and there is stiff competition for available positions. Thus, a college degree is no longer provides the same guarantee of a high-paying job. With the many amazing online learning tools available now, many are thinking twice about the possibility of going to college. However, unbeknownst to most, there was already a steadily growing contingent of professionals who shunned the traditional college experiences, instead happy to “Google their college education”. Here are a handful of careers where professionals have been hacking their education for quite some time.

Online Marketing

Classical marketing concepts and copywriting with emotional appeal are still important, however the channels of marketing have changed. Now, the tools of the trade are Google, Facebook, and Twitter, web platforms that kids are familiar with by junior high. These tools are effective because web and social analytics can be measured in real time. While using these tools for marketing requires some advanced training, its all available for free or cheap online, and all you need is high school math and some decent writing skills. One of the best free resources in online marketing is Inbound.org which covers everything under the sun in online marketing. You can take the concepts you learn there and test them on your own website, blog, or social media feeds. The cost of entry is low and the earning potential is limitless. It’s definitely not easy, but two of the most prominent names in search marketing today did not get a college degree: Rand Fishkin (college drop-out) of SEOMoz and Aaron Wall (never enrolled in college) of SEOBook. In the realm of social media, there is also Ryan Harris (college drop-out) and Pete Cashmore (college drop-out) of Mashable.

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Graphic Designers

While it’s common knowledge inspiration comes from everywhere and is free, most graphic designers go through some traditional schooling, where they are subject to the theory of classical design. A degree is simply a piece of paper, but in graphic design, a portfolio of your work shows what you can do. As has been the case for the last decade, the primary tools of a designer are the Adobe Creative Suite, and for those focused on the web, some knowledge of front-end coding (HTML/CSS/Javascript). Graphic design is one of few careers that lends itself to freelancing and working for yourself. And with platforms like Behance, Dribble, and Coroflot, it is far easier to showcase work, find customers around the world and even find jobs with likes Google, Nike, and AOL. One of the most famous designers in modern times David Carson (BA in Sociology), skipped the degree in Graphic Design and was largely self-taught. Graphic designers fly under the radar but there are plenty of fashion designers who don’t have degrees including Ralph Lauren (college drop-out) and Daymond John (never enrolled in college).

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Programmers

There is a strong tradition of self-learning in the world of computer programming, and it has only gotten easier in the last decade. MOOCs like Coursera provide introductory college computer science courses for free, and give you the foundational knowledge about programming concepts. Sites like Codeacademy offer you hands on training where you can get immediate feedback via a console learning experience. Once you are ready to step up to a higher level there are a many affordable self-paced learning solutions like Treehouse and Codeschool. Similar to designers, a portfolio of past work is very valuable to coders. In order to create a portfolio, aspiring programmers can use free open source collaboration tools like Github and Bitbucket to get real life coding experience that acts as a working portfolio, although front-end designers that focus on the look, feel and functionality of sites can often use live projects to demonstrate their skills. It’s all too easy to find great programmers that didn’t get a degree, including Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, ans well as well known entrepreneur coders like  Kevin Rose (college dropout) from Digg, David Karp (high school dropout) from Tumblr, and Stephen Ek (college dropout) of Spotify.

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Passion – Don’t Leave Home Without It

Perhaps the common thread with all of the people listed above is that they had a strong passion for their craft, so much that they hacked their way through the education required to be at the top of their field. Incidentally, they all had such an intense passion and vision for their products; they also became entrepreneurs and multi-millionaires. It’s unrealistic to think that with passion alone you will make it super rich. The best entrepreneurs live and breath their work, but also get some lucky breaks along the way. While it’s not realistic to expect to become super rich by skipping college, if you have intense focus and passion for one of these career tracks, it may be worth thinking about hacking your own degree. Worst case scenario, the door back to a traditional collegiate education is always open.

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Published on September 16, 2020

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

1. Organization

When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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2. Flexibility

You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

3. Collaboration

As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

4. Poise

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

5. Communication

Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

6. Good Computer Hygiene

Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

8. Respecting Feedback

In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

9. Project Management

Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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10. Staying up to Speed

Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

“Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

12. Teamwork

Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

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Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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