Image source: here
Now, slight disclaimer necessary – if your dream job is to work in medicine or a sector such as law you probably should go and get dem qualifications cos I don’t know about you but if I were about to have open heart surgery or be on trial for a crime I didn’t commit, I’d probably prefer it if my surgeon/lawyer were fully qualified…
That said, there are plenty of industries now that don’t necessarily require a degree which you can get into through sheer grit, determination and hard work.
You may have heard me mention on here before that I work in Marketing. In the last 8 weeks I’ve moved to Manchester and to a new company where I have the very fancy job title of Social Media & Digital Marketing Executive. And, I have no degree.
On a daily basis, I manage the social media and web content for 10 different clients in the retail sector. My days revolve around Twitter and Facebook, and I can be scheduling tweets some days for 8 hours solid. Other days I can be compiling reports, launching competitions, picking winners or even working around the country at different events the company organises. Not only is it the coolest company I’ve ever worked for (and I worked for Build-A-Bear so y’know…) but it is giving me SO much valuable experience and knowledge that will benefit me for so many years to come. But how did I do it without a degree?
1. Started from the bottom now we here… Literally. Start at the bottom. Find the company you really want to work for and apply, apply, apply. Get knocked back? Try again, try for the role you want, try for the office junior, try for the tea lady, anything to get your foot in the door because once you’re there the only way is up! Companies love to promote internally as it saves them all sorts of recruitment costs, plus they know you. You’re already part of the team, you already know the company. It worked for me at my old job and it may just work for you too!
2. Never stop asking. I annoyed my old boss so much with this. I worked there originally in a sales admin capacity, but any time I could volunteer myself to help with the social media accounts, or visit installations and take photographs for them I would. They had a Marketing Coordinator so the answer was always no, but by me always volunteering myself it made my enthusiasm obvious so when the Marketing Coordinator role became available they looked straight to me and I never looked back.
3. Apprenticeships and online courses. While you may not want to go to University, your chosen career path may just offer you the opportunity to learn on the job through apprenticeships. These are a ideal way to get your foot in the door, learning your trade surrounded by those with the knowledge and experience to help you hone your skills while also getting paid for your time! This also looks fantastic on your CV and will show future employers how much you want this! If your industry doesn’t offer apprenticeships then there are plenty of low cost online courses available – these can be done on a full or part-time basis allowing you to work maybe a part-time job alongside studying. Showing future employers that you have the initiative to enroll yourself onto a course that will help your career and boost your CV will definitely work in your favour.
4. Persistence is key. You will get knocked back, perhaps hundreds of times. You will send out countless applications and hear nothing back, you’ll attend interview after interview and get rejected. But don’t give up. Because out there is the perfect job for you and eventually you will get it. Use each knock back as experience – focus on what you could have done differently and make sure you use that knowledge in the future! Update your CV or cover letter, make sure you dress smarter for the interview, remember to research the company’s main competitors. It all helps!
5. Do your homework. When you secure that all important interview it is important that you impress your potential future employers with your knowledge of the industry and the company. It could be that all the other applicants have prior experience or a degree, so you will need to make sure that you’re just as capable, if not more so, of doing a good job than they are! When I went for my interview at my current company I researched and researched and researched. I read everything I could get my hands on about the company, I researched the Managing Director and poured over the recent interviews she’d given. I researched and memorised the competitors and even swotted up on the other departments in the company that I wouldn’t be involved with just in case. Did they ask me any of those questions? No, but if they had I would have been able to answer with no hesitation and that was what was important.
It won’t be easy, but with hard work and perseverance it is possible to achieve those things that before have just seemed like crazy dreams! Good luck!
If you’ve enjoyed this post and would like me to do maybe a career advice series then please let me know in the comments! After 5 years of hard work and dedication I feel like it’s the most important advice that I can give to anyone, and probably the one thing I’m most qualified to talk about. My email address is in my sidebar if you’d prefer to email me and have a chat in private – I’m always happy to help!
Follow me on: