Need a Dev Job? Get a Degree!

You search, and you search, and you keep searching for that sweet, sweet developer job on Indeed or Monster, or any tech career site, in hopes of taking your new career path forward. One of the things that they seem to include in their requirements list is a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. Never mind practical ability, knowledge, and understanding of software development concepts that can help you create wondiferous projects for that portfolio you’ve been working on. Nope, you also need a piece of paper from an accredited college or university that shows you know how to apply for student loans, thus paving the way for a life of debt that can only be forgiven by death or pay it off.

The problem I’m facing is a long story, about learning new skills and having zero practical use for them. Know object-oriented JavaScript? Cool. Drive-thru is getting backed up, fix those orders faster. Can you build apps for Android an iOS? Hell yeah! Clean-up on Aisle 5! Two examples is enough, moving on.

I recently completed an internship program called TechHire Eastern Kentucky (TEKY for short), where we were trained in the art of coding to get jobs in tech, without the need for a degree. Which is fine and all, but only if you actually GET THE JOB. The worst part about it is, when you think of Eastern Kentucky, what’s the career field you think of? Certainly not coding, oh no. Eastern Kentucky is coal country, bud! So if you don’t get the job you trained so hard for, what’s next? Well, coal is on a sharp decline, so that’s out. Basically, you’re stuck doing 2 things: go back to your dead-end job you left, because you thought you’d never have to see their stupid faces again, or work from home, wondering if maybe your life is worth anything anymore.

See, you can apply for jobs related to your specific skill set. If you excel as a front-end developer, you can search as many web developer jobs as you want. But, unless you have a Bachelor’s Degree, or you live in that particular city, you’ll either get ignored, or an email saying “We regret to inform you that you don’t have the necessary qualifications to work for our company.” Which, to be fair, the latter is better than hearing nothing at all.

The worst part about it is that, when your internship ends, and you are promised a job, you would expect to be employed by the end, not contacting recruiters and unemployment offices to figure out how to get money in your pocket. Sure, you can hit up freelance sites like Upworthy and such, but that’s not a steady paycheck. That’s a matter of whether or not you can win a proposal and make $30 because someone needs help making a button bigger.

In hindsight, maybe I should have stuck it out in college and earned that 4-year degree so that I wouldn’t be in this predicament. Or more recently, decided that maybe working the 2 jobs I had before I applied for TEKY, so I would have at least been employed somewhere. But alas, I made bad choices and now I have to pay for them. I’m not a Senior Developer by any means, but that won’t stop me from learning. If I can’t work for a tech company, I will find a way to start my own. People need websites. People need apps. Eventually, I will be putting my resources into learning game and VR development. So if that’s what it takes to have a career in tech or game design, so be it. But don’t count me short because I don’t have a degree. Try hiring people without one, like self-taught developers, or coding bootcamp grads. You may actually appreciate the work ethic they bring to the table.