No degree? Don’t freak out! Here’s how to start your career without one.
First things first. In order to start your career, you need to pick one. But how do you go about picking one?
First, you have to think of what you are good at and where your interests lie.
Don’t just choose a career because it is hot; if you don’t want to sit behind a computer all day, being a back-end developer probably isn’t for you. Please understand your strengths and weaknesses and choose an industry that excites you and a role that caters to and utilizes your strengths.
There are several industries that are very friendly to those without degrees. They generally tend to be areas where you can prove yourself in some way, or they are forward-thinking industries. Take some online courses in the industries or listen to podcasts so get an idea of the industries and the roles within them.
Here are some industries and job areas that are very friendly to those without degrees:
Here are industries that are not friendly to those without college degrees. These industries are known to gatekeep:
Don’t worry! There are plenty of great opportunities to those without degrees, so don’t feel like you are missing out. (Finance and law aren’t that much fun anyway!)
Now that you have chosen an industry, what comes next?
There are several ways of breaking in. You can start by looking at trainee or apprenticeship programs. These are programs that don’t mind if you lack experience. For construction or trades, apprenticeships are common. There is a lot of growth potential in these careers, and you can own your own business in the future. You should consider doing projects or volunteer in the areas that you want to break into.
In technology you can break into an entry level role with 4-5 projects. Just realize that it may take months of learning how to program before you break in. Two great resources to learn how to code for free are Code Academy and Free Code Camp.
You can break into sales by going into a 100% commission role or going for a job that has a low base salary. These are jobs to break you into the industry. Once you learn the ropes, you can easily get a job that has pays more and is more stable.
The beauty of the sales industry is that they like proactive people. You can cold call someone, send a message on social media, or send a cold email. Just make sure to do your research so that it’s clear that you put in effort. Send a creative video message online to someone highlighting why you would make a great candidate. People have secured interviews this way. You can compile a list of 100 leads that would be great for that salesperson and send it to them. Get creative!
To break into marketing, take some online courses. HubSpot Academy and Salesforce Trailhead. are both amazing resources that have so much great info. You can pick up several certifications that will make you stand out. There are so many routes that you can go with these 2 websites.
Web3 is one of the friendliest industries to those without college degrees. In fact, a lot of the leaders within the industry do not have college degrees. Since the industry is extremely new and there is high demand for it with little supply, the salaries for people with skills can get extremely high ($300K-$500K+). Colleges do not really have it in their curriculum, and the industry moves too fast for them to keep up. The beauty of Web3 is that there are so many different types of roles in it. You can get a marketing or sales job within Web3. Check out useWeb3 to learn about the different areas of Web3.
One of the most important things you need to do if you don’t have a college degree is to network.
You can get jobs at companies that require college degrees if you know the right person. Join an association or a networking group. You can easily find these online. Join online groups centered around your industry. Hop on intro calls with people. Make sure you keep in touch and follow up. Most people never follow up or hop on an intro call only to never follow up again. If they are active on social media, make sure you support their content. This is a very underrated way to keep in contact with someone.
LinkedIn and Twitter are two phenomenal social media platforms to network. You can follow the content of people in your industry. They will often share valuable information and link to great sources.
Twitter Spaces is a great way to listen to live or recorded audio content. You will be surprised at the connections by interacting with people on Twitter.
LinkedIn is a great networking tool. You can connect with people in your industry. The beauty is that you can search people up by their company or job title. There is a lot of great content that will be relevant to your industry. It is a great way to get referrals at companies. Just make sure you do a little research and learn some online social etiquette before starting your online social media journey.
One of most important things you can do for your career is to have a mentor.
A mentor is someone who you regularly meet to discuss your career and life. The beauty is that you can have several different mentors! My mentor has been instrumental in my success and has taught me things from her 20+ years of corporate experience. A mentor may also give you intros.
It is important to make sure that you are respectful of your mentor’s time and that you are doing your part. They aren’t your parents. They are there to help you but you must still put in work. One of the ways to strengthen the relationship is to figure out how to adds ways in your mentor’s life. They may need help with something that you are strong in. The best mentor and mentee relationships have a healthy balance of give and take from both sides.
Now that you have an idea of how to get started, you have to do the most important part: take action!
You will learn and grow along the way. You will pick up skills. You may even switch industries. You will make mistakes along the way—but seriously, who doesn’t? Just make sure to learn from them.
And just remember that your lack of a degree doesn’t stop you from being a successful and productive member of society.