Qualifications? Screw ’em. Your Time Can Be Better Spent

Me, graduating. Not displayed proudly in anyone's home. Weirdly.

Me, graduating. Not displayed proudly in anyone’s home. Weirdly.

I burned all my old certificates a couple of days ago. (Alright, so I shredded them. But that’s not such a good opener, is it?)

My GCSEs (two Bs, four Cs and three Ds, baby), my photography A-Level, my Food Hygiene certificate (don’t ask), my Diploma in Media, my fucking Apprenticeship in ‘Team Leading’ — all gone. I even shredded my Personal Licence, which legally allows me to serve alcohol in England and Wales. (Which, by the by, is a certificate you’re supposed to ‘surrender’ when you decide you don’t want it any more, but I loves breakin’ me some rules.)

The thing is, you really don’t need any qualifications. Not if you want to do your own thing. (Unless ‘your own thing’ happens to be like, brain surgery or something. But I’m guessing not. Disclaimer: DONE. Now if you decide to go ahead and be a brain surgeon without getting the right qualifications, don’t you even think about suing me, you pesky blighter.)

So no: if you want to start a business, you don’t need qualifications. I mean, you can just fucking start it, right?

Example: Having a Journalism degree (as I do), or an English degree, or any other writey degree is by no means a prerequisite to a successful freelance writing career. (And it certainly won’t stop you using words like ‘writey’.) I could definitely have done what I’ve done without my degree. (In fact, my degree’s specialism was radio. Suck it!)

There’s no one to tell you you can’t do it without a degree. There’s nothing to apply for. No interviews. Just you, your idea and your gumption.

Imagine if, instead of spending 3-4 years studying, you spent that time building your first business? You’d end up way ahead of all your peers who went the traditional route. YOU’D LEARN SO MUCH. Even if it didn’t work out so well, you’d still be in a better position to start your next business, thanks to everything you learned along the way. I can say with absolute certainty that I have learned more in these past two years than I did during my entire degree.

All you need to do is claim it. Just own it. Tell people what you do, how you can help them, and go from there.

(Confession: I didn’t actually shred my Journalism degree. But I will. One day. Maybe. ANYWAY, the point is: I don’t need it. And neither do you.)

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    1. It’s the kind of debate that could be a 2000 word article, or garner 100-odd back and forth comments. University of Life vs. University of… Lincoln, or somewhere.

      I’ve done okay without a degree. Been working abroad for almost five years and loving it. In some ways, I would’ve liked to have gone to uni. For the parties, mainly. But not having the debt has surely made doing what I want that much easier.

      I don’t foresee not having a degree holding me back in the future, either. Not with the path I want to take. I reckon more and more people must be feeling the same as online working etc becomes bigger and bigger.

      Having said that, if I were to find myself with enough spare time and cash at some point, I wouldn’t actually mind going back as a mature student. Not for any career advancement, mind. It would only be something I’d be learning for me. Photography, or interpretive dance or summat.

      But aye, I’m in the no-degree-necessary camp too.

      1. Funny you should say that, Lee — I ALMOST went to Lincoln uni. Had it as my first choice, but changed it at the last second because I wanted to go further away from home. (I’m from Lincolnshire :D)

        And yeah, if I went back in time, I definitely would still go to uni — not for the degree, but for the life experience. One of the best times of my life, definitely. But also completely not necessary if you want to start a business.

        I think going back to uni because you actually wanted to learn something is a great idea too. Sometimes I think it would be cool to get an English Lit degree, because I want to learn about literary criticism. Right now I take pretty much everything I read at face value :D

    2. That employee mindset likes to sneak up on us – do you catch it often? Or did you at the start? I’m about to start my own business venture (using your articles to help guide my website copy/content, btw, THANKS!) and caught myself feeling obligated to include my qualifications, as if I were applying to job. Then I realized how desperate I sounded.

      Like you, I feel like I’ve already learned a lot more doing reading on my own for my business than I ever did in my MBA program. Can’t wait to see how it goes when it’s time to really start running things with actual clients.

      Anyway, thanks for the articles. I’ve really enjoyed them.

      1. I’m happy to say I have now completely blitzed the employee mindset. Now any time I see somebody list their qualifications on their website, I shake my head and consider sending an email, but then I wonder if that would be too condescending so I don’t.

        Glad you like the blog, Kalkal, and congrats on deciding to start your biz! What’s the plan for it?

        1. Congrats on freeing yourself! I find your story inspirational, and I do agree that it’s highly motivating to get things started when stuck in a shitty job. I’ve got double motivation with an unpaid maternity leave coming up in about a month. Time to hustle.

          The plan for the business is to finish up the website this week and from there, start getting the word out by email, phone and foot. My brother and I are looking to provide document formatting services. We’re going to focus on long fixed-format PDF design: white papers, reports, eBooks, case studies… pretty much informational content that needs an organized professional look.

          In fact, I think I saw on one of your posts that one of the things on your to-do list was to get some of your coursework formatted. If that’s still the case, let me know. I’d like to get some samples on my website and would be happy to do something gratis in an effort to build up a small showcase.

          Hope all is well! Looking forward to reading more of your posts.

          1. Thanks for the kind offer Kalkal, but I’ve actually had my course PDFs redesigned already! Having said that, it is a GREAT market to get into right now — so damn straight it’s time to hustle! But the work in, and I think you can do well with this.

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