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Is having a degree in IT still relevant in 2019?

A brief history

My first "Hello, World!" is now a few years old.... Time passes so quickly... 😨

Since I was a kid, I've been amazed by all the possibilities that computers offer us, I've always loved cartoons and spy movies where a little-hooded hacker would enter the NASA system with a few keystrokes.

So I quickly started to learn by myself how a computer worked, what a programming language is,...

Around the age of 12-13, I decided, TODAY I start programming.

I started with C after searching on different forums for a language to choose.
Like many French speakers, I started with Mathieu Nebra's course on Openclassroom (formerly called Site du Zero).
As a kid, I stopped just before the pointers, I couldn't keep up. So I started HTML/CSS with CodeAcademy.

One thing leading to another, I found myself to know much more about computing, to interest myself more and more in the blockchain (bitcoin in fact at that time) and hacking with Root-me.

Finally, at the age of 16, I decided to go to a technical computer subsidiary.

Having bases, I expected not having to work at home so I could still learn myself and the bet was a winning bet, I could learn a lot more about the inner workings of a computer, the different systems, and how the networks work.

I was able to learn how to manage Cisco devices and get the basics of Python.

I also had the pleasure of tasting the impostor syndrome and some other cool things. πŸ˜©πŸ˜†

But that was never enough for me, I always learned more at home and that was one of the perverse effects of my enthusiasm because at home I was learning and it was fun.
But when you get to school, reviewing a subject you've already studied is extremely frustrating, you think you're wasting your time.

The problem

This year I am in my first year of higher education at the university.
Not knowing which option to choose, I turned to IT Management.

But I am confronted once again with a problem that has followed me all my life.

After now + - 4 months, I still haven't learned anything, I could learn the subject of the development course (JAVA) in two weeks and not because I have a superior intelligence to others, faaar from it, but due to the fact that I like it and that I like to learn from myself.

So I see myself offered full-time jobs with more than honourable salaries, but everyone is just attacking me with the idea that the degree is more than necessary to find a job.

So? Degree, relevant or not?

For me, a degree was a proof of competence when knowledge was difficult to access, but nowadays, you can learn everything using the Internet, so I don't think that's the case anymore.

I am convinced that with motivation, good resources (sites, books,...) you can become a more than qualified computer scientist.

I am therefore also a supporter of the philosophy of Xavier Niel's school 42 or 19 Coding School (the Belgian version of 42).

Xavier Niel is himself the perfect example of what I'm talking about, not even having a degree, he is the founder of Free.

For me, a person who, at least in Belgium, has a bachelor's degree in computer science has only a basic knowledge but is not directly able to work in a company (although the education here is not that bad).
He will be trained and coached there and then he will be fully competent for the work he is asked to do.

Compared to a person who has a CCNA or similar certification, this person is operational directly in any company that uses Cisco systems.

School 42, the solution?

I will not say that the education system, at least in the computer field, is failing. Some people need to be held by the hand, have obligations, do assessments, have a teacher by their side.

But some people need freedom and that is the strength of the school 42. There, we have access to resources and we can move forward as much as we want. Everyone advances at his own pace, and if we don't understand something we ask our neighbour if he doesn't know we ask his neighbour, and so on...

For someone who loves the freedom to learn at his own rhythm without letting the other students flow, this is the perfect environment.

The students there also learn to look for themselves, which I think is not taught enough in a "standard" school.

Why didn't I go then?

Simply because in 2018, companies are more interested in the degree than in a candidate's real skills.

The trend is reversing and it's something positive, hopefully, it will continue in that direction!


So, for me, a degree is not proof that a person has skills in a particular field, because he or she could very well have succeeded with 10/20s everywhere.

I think the most important thing is people's skills and not their paths to achieving those skills.

But nowadays, it is still true to say that a degree is usually required to access any job.

And what is your opinion on this?

Feel free to comment on your point of view and highlight points that I may have forgotten.

Don't hesitate to correct me if I made mistakes in the article, there are probably a lot of them! πŸ˜…

Top comments (12)

ben profile image
Ben Halpern • Edited

I'm not one to say there is no purpose in having an IT-related degree, but no employees at DEV have one. I'd love to have some folks on the team with a more formal education, but it so happens we haven't found anyone in this camp who has stuck.

And the big tech companies have officially begun relaxing policies they had in place related to degrees.

We definitely seem to be trending away from the importance of formal degrees.

cheetah100 profile image
Peter Harrison

Good to see that a more open minded approach is being taken. However, I think that there needs to be a more progressive approach toward hiring and improving people through something like an apprenticeship.

yoadev profile image

Thank you for sharing your point of view! πŸ˜ƒ

yoadev profile image

Oh, I didn't know, what a strange coincidence πŸ˜‚.

Actually, I had this impression, I also think that the positions at the state level will take longer (always late πŸ˜‚)

pixeline profile image
Alexandre Plennevaux • Edited

Feel free to reach out to me and BeCode if you would like to help us help people become developers and convince companies to hire them :-)

I'm always available for a coffee discussion, we are right at the Central Station (and the Ecole 19 is joining us soon!). Looking forward to meeting you IRL !

yoadev profile image

Sent you an invite on LinkedIn πŸ˜‰

steelwolf180 profile image
Max Ong Zong Bao

Hmm... I think i might be able to offer you my own perspective as i have an IT degree which took me 2 years instead of 4 years due to my relevant technical diploma from a vocational school.

But i ended up graduating the last in class that's a story for another day.

First of all, don't allow the naysayers to say that you can't do it without a degree.

Since the important fact is that good talent is in short supply. As long as you have the knowledge, soft skills and network to help you the sky's the limit.

Therefore as long as you're a humble person and willing to learn with the above, you will be able to do awesome work with or without a degree.

yoadev profile image

Oh, I should also try to be the last in class. 😝

Regarding what you said about skills, I totally agree with you!

steelwolf180 profile image
Max Ong Zong Bao

I always call myself a Goat for being last in class. I did my best to complete my university but I always had the inkling I don't really fit in by being part of the university.

I would prefer the world of startups and technology than being a university student in any time of the day.

Which luckily I'm given the chance to be part of an awesome startup :), so don't be so hard on yourself when your in university.

At West Point, 'Goats' Are an Exclusive Bunch

Thread Thread
yoadev profile image

I'm feeling the same right now but I'm fine, I'm holding on. πŸ˜†

I prefer too.

Like Joyce Meyer said : "Patience is not just the ability to wait - it is the way we act when we wait."

I will try, thank you for sharing this with us. 😁

vinceramces profile image
Vince Ramces Oliveros • Edited

I had thoughts in getting/not getting a degree now that I'm a graduating student from my University in the Philippines.

Grades didn't matter to me on Minor subjects(or not Major subjects). I only focused on the subjects in particular to the technology or programming languages I could use after I graduate. After I graduate, the only thing that they will see in my CV is the accomplishments, skills, experiences, and mostly, Diploma.

I'm currently in my Internship and at the same time having a remote job, so having a degree is not an obligation, it's just a title from the university and a trump card for me.

Currently, I'm using VB.NET as a framework for SAP Business by day, and Flutter at night.

yoadev profile image
Younes • Edited

That's interesting.

Thank you, for sharing your experience. πŸ˜€