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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 March 25, 2019

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

Career advancement is an enticement that today’s companies use to lure job candidates. But to truly uncover growth opportunities within a company, it’s up to you to take the initiative to move up. You can’t rely on recruiter promises that your company will largely hire from within. Even assurances you heard from your direct supervisor during the interviewing process may not pan out.

But if you begin a job knowing that you’re ultimately responsible for getting yourself noticed, you will be starting one step ahead.

Accomplished entrepreneur and LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman said,

“If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”

It’s important to recognize that taking charge of your own career advancement, and then mapping out the steps you need to succeed, is key to moving forward on your trajectory.

Make a Point of Positioning Yourself as a Rising Star

As an employee looking for growth opportunities within your current company, you have many avenues to position yourself as a rising star.

As an insider, you’re able to glean insights on company strategies and apply your expertise where it’s most needed. Scout out any skills gaps, then make a point to acquire and apply them. And, when you have creative ideas to offer, make it your mission to gain the ear of those in the organization who can put your ideas to the test.

Valiant shows of commitment and enterprise make managers perk up and take notice, keeping you ahead of both internal and external competitors.

Employ these other useful tips to let your rising star qualities shine:

1. Promote Your Successes to Your Higher-Ups

When your boss casually asks how you’re doing, use this valuable moment to position yourself as indispensable: “I’m floating on clouds because three clients have already commented on how well they like my redesign of the company website.”

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Tell your supervisors about any and all successes. Securing a new contract or signing a new customer should be a cause for celebration. Be sure to let your bosses know.

2. Cultivate Excellent Listening Skills

Listen well, and ask great questions. Realize that people love to talk about themselves.

But if you’re a superb listener, others will confide in you, and you’ll learn from what they share. You may even find out something valuable about your own prospects in the company.

If others view you as even-minded and thoughtful, they’ll respect your ideas and, in turn, listen to what you have to say.

3. Go to All Office Networking Events

Never skip the office Christmas party, your coworker’s retirement party, or any office birthday parties, wedding showers, or congratulatory parties for colleagues.

If others see you as a team player, it will help you rise in your company. These on-site parties will also help you mingle with co-workers whom you might not ordinarily have the chance to see. For special points, help organize one or two of these get-togethers.

Take the Extra Step to Show Your Value to the Company

Managers and HR staff know that it can be less risky – and a lot less costly — to promote from within. As internal staff, you likely have a good grasp of the authority structure and talent pool in the company, and know how to best navigate these networks in achieving both the company’s goals and your own.

The late Nobel-Prize winning economist, Gary Becker, coined the term “firm-specific,” which describes the unique skills required to excel in an individual organization. You, as a current employee, have likely tapped into these specific skills, while external hires may take a year or more to master their nuances.

Know that your experience within the company already provides value, then find ways to add even more value, using these tips:

4. Show Initiative

Commit yourself to whatever task you’re given, and make a point of going above and beyond.

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Position yourself so that you’re ready to take on any growth opportunities that present themselves. If you believe you have skills that have gone untapped, find a manager who will give you a chance to prove your worth.

Accept any stretch assignment that showcases your readiness for advancement. Stay late, and arrive early. Half of getting the best assignments is sticking around long enough to receive them.

5. Set Yourself Apart by Staying up on Everything There Is to Know About Your Company and Its Competitors

Subscribe to and read the online trade journals. Become an active member in your industry’s network of professionals. Go to industry conferences, and learn your competitors’ strategies.

Be the on-the-ground eyes and ears for your organization to stay on top of industry trends.

6. Go to Every Company Meeting Prepared and Ready to Learn

A lot of workers feel meetings are an utter waste of time. They’re not, though, because they provide face-time with higher-ups and those in a position to give you the growth opportunities you need.

Go with the intention of absorbing information and using it to your advantage — including the goals and work styles of your superiors. Respect the agenda, listen more than you speak, and never beleaguer a point.

Accelerate Your Career Growth Opportunities

A recent study found that the five predictors of employees with executive potential were: the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. These qualities help you stand out, but it’s also important to establish a track record of success and to not appear to be over-reaching in your drive to move up in your company.

Try to see yourself from your boss’s position and evaluate your promote-ability.

Do you display a passion and commitment toward meeting the collective goals of the company? Do you have a motivating influence with team members and show insight and excellence in all your work?

These qualities will place you front and center when growth opportunities arise.

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Use these strategic tips to escalate your opportunities for growth:

7. Find a Mentor

With mentorship programs fast disappearing, this isn’t always easy. But you need to look for someone in the company who has been promoted several times and who also cares about your progress.

Maybe it’s the person who recommended you for the job. Or maybe it’s your direct supervisor. It could even be someone across the hall or in a completely different department.

Talk to her or him about growth opportunities within your company. Maybe she or he can recommend you for a promotion.

8. Map out Your Own Growth Opportunity Chart

After you’ve worked at the company for a few months, work out a realistic growth chart for your own development. This should be a reasonable, practical chart — not a pie-in-the-sky wish list of demands.

What’s reasonable? Do you think being promoted within two years is reasonable? What about raises? Try to inform your own growth chart with what you’ve heard about other workers’ raises and promotions.

Once you’ve rigorously charted a realistic path for your personal development within the company, try to talk to your mentor about it.

Keep refining your chart until it seems to work with your skills and proven talents. Then, arrange a time to discuss it with your boss.

You may want to time the discussion around the time of your performance review. Then your boss can weigh in with what he feels is reasonable, too.

9. Set Your Professional Bar High

Research shows that more than two-thirds of workers are just putting in their time. But through your active engagement in the organization and commitment to giving your best, you can provide the contrast against others giving lackluster performances.

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Cultivate the hard skills that keep you on the cutting edge of your profession, while also refining your soft skills. These are the attributes that make you better at embracing diverse perspectives, engendering trust, and harnessing the power of synergy.

Even if you have an unquestionably left-brain career — a financial analyst or biotechnical engineer, for example — you’re always better off when you can form kind, courteous, quality relationships with colleagues.

Let integrity be the cornerstone of all your interactions with clients and co-workers.

The Bottom Line

Growth opportunities are available for those willing to purposely and adeptly manage their own professional growth. As the old adage says,

“Half of life is showing up.”

The other half is sticking around so that when your boss is looking for someone to take on a more significant role, you are among the first who come to mind.

Remember, your career is your business!

More Resources About Ever-Growing

Featured photo credit: Zach Lucero via unsplash.com

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