3 min read

Can you guess what is common between, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, Larry Ellison? Yes they are very successful trendsetters in tech, some being co-founders and founders of top tech companies. But what else? They are also college dropouts.

The point here I want to highlight is that real skills are more important than acquired college degrees. If you do not have a college degree, but have the skill set a company wants, you are in! In today’s economy it is important to have hands-on experience instead of being only book smart.

Last week, the job searching website, Glassdoor compiled a list of Top companies that do not require a 4 year college degree as long as you have the skills required. The list includes some of the top tech companies as well such as Google, Apple, and IBM.

Google has clearly mentioned on their web page:

Google Job

Source: Google

If no degrees, then what?

Now, you must be thinking that if these companies are not looking at your GPAs then how are they going to shortlist n number of applications coming their way. Remember the names I called out in the beginning? They have something more in common. They believed in self-learning, were passionate and innovative, and had clear goals.

Sam Ladah, IBM’s head of talent organization, calls these type of jobs, “new-collar jobs.”

He told the Marketplace in an interview that IBM consider the applicants based on their skills. This includes applicants who didn’t get a four-year degree but have proven their technical knowledge in other ways. Some have technical certifications, and others have enrolled in other skills programs. They have also been finding talents from coding bootcamps.

A very good example of finding talent beyond traditional educational boundaries is Tanmay Bakshi, one of the youngest software programmers in the world. At the age of 11, he came across a documentary on the IBM Watson and how it played Jeopardy. He was immediately hooked to IBM Watson and AI and found inspiration to build his own first Watson app called “Ask Tanmay”. Later he was able to find a bug in the Document Conversion service by IBM and posted that on his Twitter. IBMers who were working on this service took a note of this and contacted Tanmay. Two of those initial contacts eventually became his mentors and assisted him in collaborating with IBM.

Even if you have a degree in any other background but are keen on learning software development and bagging a job in top-tech companies, you can start anytime. Margaret Hamilton, the Director of the Software Engineer Division of the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory in 1960 and later the CEO of Hamilton Technologies, Inc, was actually a Mathematics graduate. Angela Taylor, who was working as an HR person in Google, with her hardwork and can-do attitude became a Google engineer. She fell in love with programming when she volunteered to fix a spreadsheet and learned Visual Basic for it.

These were a few examples of the people who were able to challenge the current education system and became successful. Here is a great Medium post which could give you some amazing tips to further your career, if you are a coder but not an engineer.

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  1. i don’t get articles that focus on these massively successful tech visionaries being college drop outs. They are about 0.001% of college drop outs most would be better off finishing the course they started!


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