I want to start this with a disclaimer. College is not an evil empire - in fact - it is wonderful. Some of my best memories and best friendships are a direct result of college. With that in mind.
College isn’t for everyone.
Depending on the career one plans on going into, a traditional 4 year college may be more of a hindrance than a boost to your career. The traditional mind set has always been to go to college after high school and then start your career. There used to be a time in this country where that was true. No matter what you did post high school if you wanted to be in a good paying career you either needed a degree or needed to be a savant in the area which you were working.
Now however times have changed - and they have changed for the better.
My current job title is that of System Engineer. When I started at my current place of employment a little over eight years ago as a lowly service desk technician, a bachelors degree was the minimum requirement to get your foot in the door. It didn’t matter what the degree was in - and this was partially to the determent (in my opinion) of the company. Instead of looking at those with strong tech skills who did not have a degree, instead we interviewed (in some instances - not all) those with weaker skill sets but had a degree. That degree could be in English - but it’s a degree.
Now I know of employees that have associate degrees, and they are just as qualified technically as some of our bachelor degree holders.
This trend is encouraging - and seems to be a trend in ALL fields of employment. Instead of checking to see if a person has a college degree instead we are looking to see if they have the SKILLS necessary to do the job and the drive to learn the new skills they will need. One can argue that since a person has a college degree they therefore has the drive and motivation to learn. To that I say have you ever seen the meme of the college senior? There is a reason the meme is so popular - while it is exaggerated there is a piece of truth to it.
Even if the meme was fully false - fully - there is still another issue at hand. The cost. College - especially for a career which has little to no benefit from it is an expensive proposition. There are some careers which require it. A few examples of these types of careers are: doctors, architects, engineers-designing hardware - not a computer system engineer. But for people who want to do stuff like starting out in IT support, web programming, mechanic, plumber - a traditional four year college is a waste of money.
“In its most recent survey of college pricing, the College Board reports that a “moderate” college budget for an in-state public college for the 2015–2016 academic year averaged $24,061. A moderate budget at a private college averaged $47,831.” Source
I can’t speak for the requirements of studying to be a mechanic, or a plumber but I feel that I can speak to starting out in IT - as this is a career that I have been in for over ten years now. To be honest a four year college degree is overkill. To be honest a two year college degree is overkill. Now before you decide that I am a crack pot and should be stoned lets look at some sobering information.
- Most college students leave college with student loan debt
- The average cost of college has increased over the years
- Entry level jobs with decent pay are NOT guaranteed just because you have a degree
- According to a UsNews Story the average college student will take 21 years to pay off student loan debt
What if there was a better way?
What if there was a way to study and start your career young?
What if there was a way that instead of studying for four years and taking “core” classes that have nothing to do with your major - you could instead spend one year or less studying and getting certified in the career you wanted to get into?
What if you had personal one one one mentoring each week from an IT professional?
This is why I am excited to hear what I heard today. All of these things I have been wondering myself personally - is there a better way to train the future IT professional of tomorrow? (It sounds weird for me to be saying that - but this is something I need to consider - I am becoming one of those “old” guys in tech now.) Is there a way to ensure that those who are coming up in the workforce have the necessary skills as well the necessary motivation to learn new technologies?
It’s all of those thoughts and questions in my mind that have been circulating around for a while - that when the new initiative was announced today I instantly said “YES”.
So what did I immediately say Yes to?
It was announced today that the DevOps Collective is now going to be offering self guided training using Pluarlsight and weekly one on one mentoring sessions between IT pros and students. This program is designed to be completed in one year or less - and at the end of this time - those going through the program should have four to five industry accepted certifications for entry level IT work. Now this training does not train someone to be a system engineer - but instead gives someone a great foundation to build upon. They can use what they have learned in this one year long course to build their future career. While being on the service desk is not a sexy job - it is one that pays (especially for an entry level job) pretty well. Now to celebrate the announcement the DevOps Collective will be offering TWO full scholarships for the program. Items that included in the scholarship (valued at around 11 thousand dollars)
- Full access to all the online training videos
- A weekly one on one mentoring session with an IT Professional
- A computer kit for the student to build their own computer
- Additional resources to help them (unknown at this time)
To be honest this is an awesome announcement and something that had the whole room excited. If this is something that is up your alley - a career that you want to look into - and you have somehow stumbled upon this blog and the deadline for the first year scholarship has not passed - get yourself over to DevOps Collective and view their official announcement and enter.
What have you got to loose? Debt?