3 Reasons I Chose Career Over College

I've been working full-time since I was 17.

I started out as a manager at a retail location for Converse, where I soaked up every bit of learning that I could. Eventually, I hit a ceiling (metaphorically) and decided that the retail management career path wasn't for me.

I also attended 1 semester of college, which didn't set me up for success. After college, I had less of an idea of how to apply my skills in the real world. Retail management actually provided me with more opportunities and value than college.

Regardless, I left both behind.

Fast forward, I'm now in San Francisco, California working for EquitySim, a startup revolutionizing the education and recruitment spaces. I've been here for almost 3 months and, boy, what a journey it has been personally and professionally.

I started thinking about how much I've grown diving into a career instead of college, and the following are some things I've been musing about.

Your Learning Curve is Exponentially Faster

A career requires the immediate application of the concepts you would otherwise study in a class.

Failure is life’s greatest teacher. You must apply yourself to succeed, you must try, which makes yourself susceptible to failure. The traditional classroom can be like a shelter, a window for the real world.

You learn theories in classrooms, but you don't have the opportunity to apply your learnings. You research, analyze, write and refine.

Every day I research, I analyze, I write and refine, but the difference is that I directly apply these practices to see real-world results. 

Once I see these results manifested, I can better adjust how I go about doing things in the future for better success, and actually grow something (a business.)

Your Return On Investment is Higher

The goal of attending college is to land a good job after graduation. The purpose of learning at a college is to garner the pre-requisites for building a career, but at a hefty cost with no promise of landing a job post-graduation.

Granted, there are some careers that require a degree like being a doctor, nurse, lawyer, etc.

Aside from those careers, what employers are really looking for are employees who relentlessly create value. They're looking to hire candidates who strongly exhibit potential, and who indicate the skillsets necessary to perform well on the job.

If you can develop the skillsets needed to create a strong signal to employers, why spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to get a piece of paper that says you have those skills? Why put yourself into tremendous debt when you can create a portfolio now to show employers?

It Puts You Years Ahead of Your Peers

While my peers are sitting in classrooms and learning about how to market, how to sell, how to understand human behavior, how to budget, how to code, etc. I am learning by doing.

Instead of learning about the real world, I'm experiencing the real world.

Instead of working on a resume, I’m building a portfolio.

Instead of studying personal finance, I'm paying bills and budgeting.

Instead of taking out loans, I'm earning and saving money.

In the last three months I've hunted for and leased an apartment, built credit, created a budget, learned about trading in the markets, made connections with people in a new city, learned how to navigate public transit, learned how to budget my time, learned best practices for sales and marketing, developed and implemented business strategies, among so many other things.

Skipping college and moving across the country for a job has been one of the best decisions I've ever made.