In today’s world, getting a college degree is a primary goal that all students must strive to achieve to get a well-paying job. However, some things cannot be taught in the classroom and must be learned on the job.
People have always believed that their ability to work in a good company and live a well-lived life is determined by their GPA, college degree, and intelligence. Earlier this year, Google released a statement explaining how they had spent years analyzing potential employees, which has moved away from focusing on GPAs, top schools, and successful interviews.
Google is not a big fan of college degrees, even though the search giant is inundated with applications from students who have perfect GPAs from Ivy League institutions.
Laszlo Bock, the chairman of Google and the company’s head of hiring, recently shared some insights with the New York Times on how he sorts through a large number of qualified candidates.
Ultimately, Google values the skills and experiences that candidates gain while in college, yet a degree does not tell them enough about their talent or dedication.
To be skilled, you do not need a college degree.
“Persons who don’t go to school and make their way in the world are incredible human beings,” says the author. And we must do everything possible to find those individuals,” Bock said.
Many companies “require” a college degree; at Google, the word “college” isn’t even used as a hiring criterion. With the rising trend of self-paced college courses and vocational training, many motivated individuals can teach themselves all the skills required to work for the company.
Prove a skill, not a level of expertise.
“If you consider hiring someone who has the high cognitive ability, is innately curious, willing to learn, and has evolving leadership qualities as an HR or finance person, but they have no subject knowledge, and you correlate them to someone who has only done one thing and is a leading expert, the expert will say, ‘I’ve seen this hundred times before; here it is what you can do,’” Bock explained.
By almost definition, a college degree is a certificate of skills and knowledge. A journalism degree is a big badge that proclaims to the world that you know at least a bit about the business of telling stories and conducting interviews.
A degree, on the other hand, says nothing about a graduate’s abilities. Can they make a public presentation of an idea? Is it possible for them to create a website? Is it possible for them to think creatively about problems, or did they pass some tests?
Logic can be learned, and statistics are essential.
“Humans are creative beings by nature, but not logical, structured thinkers by nature.” You have to learn those skills,” Bock said. “I took statistics in business school, and it changed the course of my life.” Analytical training gives you a skill set that sets you apart from the majority of people on the job market.”
Programming isn’t the only application of logical thinking. For example, in 2010, Facebook published a blog post claiming that political candidates with more Facebook fans were more likely to win their election, implying that increasing their Facebook following would help them win. This was a terrible argument, to put it bluntly. Perhaps candidates who were already well-liked had more supporters. What about candidates who won despite having fewer supporters? Why did it not matter to the fans in these cases?
The Facebook employees who ran the statistics understood the logic, but they lacked analytical thinking. Sifting through data necessitates knowledge of the most up-to-date techniques for determining causality and exploring patterns creatively.
“It appears that what distinguishes the capable students from the truly successful students is not so much their knowledge…as it is their persistence at something,” Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said. Some people find college to be elementary. While their studious roommate is up to their eyeballs in color-coded flashcards and squeaks by with a B, they can play ten rounds of beer pong until 4 a.m. and still ace an organic chemistry exam the next day.
A college diploma will not tell Google whether an applicant is naturally bright or works hard. It appears that Google would instead mold someone who has grit than just being an unmotivated high achiever.
If you’re going to college, concentrate on your skills.
“My belief is not that one does not go to college,” Block said, “but most people don’t put enough thought into why they’re going and what they hope to gain from it.”
Both Bock and Schmidt believe that most people should attend college but that skills and experience are more important than degrees. According to Bock, Google is looking for the types of projects candidates completed or the outcomes of internships. I honestly don’t recall the last time someone inquired about my college major. If you want to work at Google, don’t worry about your major; instead, make sure you graduate with all the skills and experiences you’ll need to make the world a better place.