Digital is the New Degree
College degrees aren’t what they used to be. Back in the Golden Era of Jobs prior to the Internet, a college degree would get you a good paying job and even maybe a pension at one company for the rest of your life. Nowadays in the modern digital age that is more of a fantasy then any virtual online game could offer. The Internet has completely changed the global economic and educational landscape and now a new digital era of work has emerged and they require their own “degrees” that are vastly different from our previous higher education model. So what am I talking about specifically? Well it’s online education, certifications, and online portfolios of which the majority of people are still unaware of, but it will become the “normal” way of getting a job or work in the decades to come.
Our previous career track preparation was college, degree, and resume to go out in the workforce looking for jobs. That is now being replaced by online education (college), certifications (degrees), and online portfolios (resume). As you can see, the general model is still the same however the devil is in the details. Digital citizens are constantly in a state of rapid change as the Internet evolves so quickly which demands that people who work in this space must also change. Unlike a traditional college education where the majority of your learning is done when you’ve gotten your degree, the digital age requires constant learning to remain competitive and relevant. For example, YouTube has changed the video landscape in so many levels and if you were a traditional video company that didn’t learn how to create digital videos and market in this platform, your chances of survival were slim. Now digital video doesn’t mean just YouTube anymore as other social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are all using videos to drive business.
Secondly, let’s look at online education and certifications to see how they apply to a digital career track. Before in a traditional academic education path, you’d choose a field to major in college in order to receive your degree. Similarly, if you wanted to pursue an opportunity in the digital realm you’d also have to decide what you wanted to do and where you’d get you education to receive the proper certifications. But this is where the similarities end and the real fun begins! Your education on the Internet is near limitless and it’s dynamic to say the least. Instead of having maybe a dozen choices of colleges to go to, you have millions of options to learn on the Internet. And instead of paying thousands in tuition and years in school, you can learn many things for free and gain the necessary skills in a matter of months!
A good example is my own experience as I wanted to be a Digital Marketer where certifications (degrees) were things like Google Adwords, Google Analytics and HubSpot. These are just a few of the literally hundreds of available certifications available to be a qualified Search Engine Marketer (SEM) or Search Engine Optimization (SEO) professional. I spent months learning from many areas including free sources like YouTube and various websites, but I also paid for some digital marketing courses to accelerate my learning in a more focused manner. So after a few months, I “completed” my online education and received my digital certifications to now be educated as a digital marketer. But much like college, a degree is not the end as now your resume will serve as a ticket to a new career. However on the Internet, a new kind of resume is needed.
College degrees and resumes are common in our modern age. As a digital graduate, what’s more important is having an online portfolio that has effectively replaced the resume. Potential employers and customers want to see a portfolio of your actual work and not just a piece of paper listing your qualifications. Digital certifications alone won’t get you noticed as you need to prove that you can provide results. With so many billions of people on the Internet all competing, it’s results that matter and not the type of education you received. Businesses more than ever are facing constant change and competition demanding less training and more doing. So as a digital professional, it’s your responsibility to gain all the necessary education, certifications, and most importantly, skills to provide the results companies want. No longer are the days where a college degree would basically be a way to get you in a company where you learn your “real” skills to produce results. Looking at a purely results driven economy might be scary for those who were used to the old college model where you had more time to prepare. However, this shift opens up new possibilities for success that doesn’t rely on where you got your degree from but instead, it places all the potential on you.