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Your Web Degree is Dead to Me

Chris Misterek

Don’t get a degree to be a web developer.

Are those fighting words? Good. I hope I can help as many people as possible avoid debt, wasted time and a 4+ year pause in experience in pursuit of a degree they don’t need to be successful.

I’m sorry if you got a degree in computer science or software engineering or whatever version your school called it. But, hey, let’s not pass along our mistakes for the sake of ideals or some right of passage. 

Ok ok…I’m sure there’s value in a web development degree. But I know plenty of people who are very successful web designers that didn’t go to school for it. I also know plenty of people that did go to school for it who have told me it wasn’t worth it.

In fact, some of the best advice I got OVER 6 YEARS AGO before I got started in web design was “DON’T GET A DEGREE IN WEB DEVELOPMENT.”

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was at a coffee shop with a friend. He was explaining to me that as a tech director, he didn’t care whether or not someone had a degree in computer science.

All he cared about was the proof of their work. 

If your work was good, you got an interview. If your work was bad, it didn’t matter what degree you got from where…your resume got tossed.

I took that to heart, started making things, and I’ve never looked back. That strategy has served me well.

Not long into learning, I doubled my income working on projects in my very limited free time. 

Then 5 years into all of this, I landed my dream job at an amazing start-up company called Showit. I pinch myself sometimes. It doesn’t seem fair.

I know people who have way more education than me in web development that are still struggling to find a good job.

Being a part of a tech company I have the unique opportunity to hear about the people that apply for our dev positions. So many people tout degrees, boot camps, etc.

They cited all the same languages that I had in my resume. Dig a little deeper and you find out they aren’t as strong in development as they claim. Why? Because they learned in a classroom and didn’t actually build anything.

Don’t get me wrong, there will be certain businesses that might not look at you without the degree they prefer. But, in my experience, you don’t really want to work for those companies anyways. AND, there’s plenty of other companies out there who are willing to pay you a real income and do not care how much you paid for the degree on your resume.

So, why waste your time? You shouldn’t. 

What should you do? Start making stuff

Make lots of it. That idea you had for a cool app…make it. That thing your friend asked you for…make it. Do it for free. Do it for cheap. Do it for fun. Do it for the challenge…just to see if you can.

You’ll find that in the making of those things you’ll learn way more in all the roadblocks you’ll have to overcome than you would through 4 years of a classroom. 

Do not think that after 4+ years and a piece of paper you’re going to be able to land the dream job your advisor told you you were gonna get. Work hard making stuff, and you WILL get it.

Need help? I can point you in the right direction. It’s actually a passion of mine to help people figure out how to do exactly what I’ve done. Which is starting with absolutely no knowledge in web design and finishing with a successful career as a web designer.

Are you ready? No excuses. You’ve got this. You can do it. Now start making stuff.


2

Comments

  1. Forrest Hopkins

    September 5th, 2019 at 1:03 am

    Someone is going to read this post and say, “Well, Chris, a Web Development degree is very different from a Computer Science degree…”

    So I’m gonna preemptively jump in and say that, as a Software Engineer (not a web developer — although those things do often overlap), you don’t need a CS degree. You can get an engineering job at Google, Apple, Microsoft, IBM, Amazon, etc, etc, without a degree.

    I’m currently working at a job that I love, in the field I always wanted to be in, as a software developer; meanwhile, my peers are hemorrhaging money getting CS degrees. When they finish their degrees, their first jobs are almost certainly going to be in the same position I started in: Junior Developer.

    When I got my first job as a Junior Developer, I was working alongside an assortment of fresh CS grads. Something that astounded me was that they were struggling to catch up just as much as I was. When I asked my boss at the time about this, he confided in me that he had already turned away a number of CS grads, due to their astonishing inability to write code.

    Of course, this is absolutely not the case for all graduates — I know plenty of people with CS degrees who absolutely benefited from it — but I completely agree with Chris’ position that it’s not going to give you as much of a leg up as everyone will say, or, indeed, as much as it may have used to.

    With so many people graduating from school and not being able to write a line of code, I’ve found that employers are far more interested in seeing proof of what you can do.

  2. Chris Misterek

    September 9th, 2019 at 2:53 am

    Forrest! You’re who I often think about when writing things related to this concept. It’s almost criminal to think about how much Universities are making to train people to be inept developers/software engineers. I hope higher education catches up. But, until then there are some amazing alternatives that leave you with a lot less debt and a lot more experience.

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