It's not about the degree, stupid

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I talked with a very smart, very cool guy on a flight recently. One of the reasons he’s very cool is because he works for Apple Care. The other reason he’s very cool is because he doesn’t have a degree in what he’s currently doing, which involves testing and troubleshooting 3rd-party apps on MacOS.

He also spoke quite animatedly and passionately about programming. I asked him what a good language for someone in my line of work might be, and he waxed poetic on Ruby on Rails. I now have a couple pages of notes to help me get started on my programming career.

In the process of giving me advice, Dan (we’ll call him Dan, though I never got his name) filled me in on how computers were a hobby of his in high school and college, and that he learned some HTML and Java while he got his degree in photography. So, to be clear, Dan works at Apple, which is his second tech job after working fir the City of Austin for four years, with no formal degree. He has a few certifications, but no formal degree.

How did Dan land such a sweet gig without the résumé bling to even get him in the door?

A recommendation.

One of his coworkers at the C of A was a former employee at Apple and wanted to go back. They made a deal that whoever got hired first would help the other guy in the door. Two months after his buddy got hired, Dan was working for Apple, too.

What does this mean? Two things:

1. The best hires are referrals
2. Network your ass off

The end.

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