Standing Out in the Tech Industry as an Applicant with No College Degree

tech industry

Bill Gates, one of the wealthiest men alive today, did not finish college. He notoriously dropped out of Harvard after two years to start Microsoft. He became a millionaire at 26.

Mark Zuckerberg also went to Harvard but did not receive a college degree because he had to drop out when the website he built, Facebook, started taking off. He is now worth $119.2 billion.

Gates and Zuckerberg are only two of the success stories in the tech industry who have proven that having a college degree does not determine a person’s future. Some people managed to reach their dreams without a college degree. Others fail and encounter challenges even after completing their four-year university programs.

No Longer a Requirement

This has opened up new opportunities for young professionals who do not have a degree. The tech industry has, in recent years, expanded its criteria to include applicants who did not attend college. The biggest companies globally, such as Apple, Google, IBM, Netflix, and Tesla, now choose employees based solely on skills rather than educational background.

However, that also means that the job market in the tech industry has become more competitive. Without a college degree, how can an aspiring applicant work within the tech industry and stand out?

Man standing inside a server room

Learn and Earn a Certification

You do not have to have a college degree, but a job in tech still requires mastery of technical skills. When Gates and Zuckerberg dropped out of college, both already knew how to code and work with computers.

Steve Jobs was also a college dropout and did not know how to code. However, he has a partner, Steve Wozniak, who knew how to construct devices and was a genius programmer when they started Apple. Wozniak said that Jobs had enough technical knowledge to make design suggestions and alterations.

There are resources online that are free to access or have a small fee that will teach you everything you need to know about programming and working with a computer. However, realistically, to stand out, you will need more. You need to prove that you can make valuable contributions to the company by earning certifications.

CompTIA A+ 220-1001 exam, one of the most popular certifications in the industry, will test your mastery of installation, configuration, networking, hardware and network troubleshooting, and cloud computing. You can also take certificates as a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), Amazon Web Services (AWS) developer, and Google IT Support. Arming yourself with at least one of these certifications will prove that you can work within the tech industry.

Spend Your Free Time Building

Those who have neither a college degree nor prior experience working in the tech industry will still need to build a portfolio. A portfolio can show the hiring manager at Google or Apple what you can do.

Creating your own websites is a simple project that will showcase who you are, your skills, and why future employers should hire you. Over time, it can be your own online portfolio where you can link and describe projects that you have accomplished on your own.

Say you are hoping to be hired by an e-commerce company or a brand that wants to expand online. You can also try your hand at making your own working digital selling platform. This will show that you have excellent front-end and back-end knowledge.

Gain Soft Skills Too

The ideal employee does not just write a flawless program. They have to have soft skills too.

Whether working in the tech industry or other sectors of society, every employee is required to have the soft skills needed to work in an office. This includes communication skills, leadership skills, cooperation and work with a team, critical thinking skills, and professionalism.

Moreover, you need to have the desire to learn and grow continuously. This is a valuable trait in the industry because technology constantly goes through changes and advancements. People who work with tech must always keep up with it by ensuring that their knowledge and skills are relevant. This will require you to be willing to spend your time studying new programming languages or master how to work with a new device.

Having a college degree does not guarantee success. Gates, Zuckerberg, Jobs, Wozniak, and many other tech founders prove that their educational background does not determine their future. The tech industry has also become more open to people who may not have graduated from prestigious universities but have the skills and knowledge needed by companies to deliver the next big tech product. However, those who want to be accepted by the biggest tech companies in the world need to find ways to stand out among other applicants.

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