"There is a community of people who are making a different choice. Instead of going into debt, they are taking the future into their own hands. They are using the real world to find mentors and learn practical skills. They are traveling, volunteering, interning and apprenticing.”
-Dale Stephens, for the New York Times.
These days, more and more employers are recognizing the value of people with real skills and a great mindset, over the value of people with the right degree. A large part of being a successful hackademic is developing these skills. Hackademics have to, because they’re not planning on passively relying on their college diplomas to get and keep them a job. They’re going to rely on their ability to recognize, approach, and solve problems.
By virtue of being a hackademic, people develop certain ways of thinking and doing that set them apart from their peers. Because of this, it’s no surprise that hackademics who opt into programming bootcamps like Galvanize or Dev Bootcamp, for example, have such high rates of employment. These programs, which are filled with motivated hackademics (like you!), boast extremely high job placement rates after program completion. The skills and mindsets hackademics develop while pursuing their education outside of the school system are critical to their success in the workplace. Here are a few examples:
Hackademics are proactive, not passive.
For example: if they want to find a job, they won’t just email their resumes to a few big companies, and wait to hear back. They’ll go to networking events. They’ll ask people to coffee. They’ll get internships. They’ll build their portfolio, and work on projects that are relevant to the job they want to get. They’ll email people and see if they can help them solve specific problems. They’ll find creative ways to get a job, not just expect one to be handed to them.
They focus on what matters, not what looks good.
This is especially true of hackademics that opt out of college and either direct their own education, or attend a skill-building program like Dev Bootcamp. They recognize that it will be their skills and work ethic, not a piece of paper, that allows them to succeed in the workplace.
They want to keep learning; it’s not something to “finish.”
A common misconception when students leave or opt out of college is that they’re opting out of education. This is simply not true. In fact, the opposite is true. They are making a lifelong commitment to learning. Although hackademics may not pursue their education in a college classroom, make no mistake: they will be learning wherever they go, whatever they do.
They learn how to set their own goals, and follow through on them.
Instead of being strung along by the structure that college imposes on them, hackademics set their own goals. They choose goals that matter, instead of conforming to arbitrary deadlines that exist in the school system. They manage themselves, and set priorities. And of course, they then articulate those priorities, communicating to the people for whom it matters (friends, employers, and so forth). Hackademics take personal responsibility for where they are, and where they want to be: they don’t defer this crucial task to anyone.
They’re not afraid to do what’s unpopular -- if it makes more sense.
In most circles, leaving college is not a popular position. It’s a move that is seen as especially weird when a person is motivated and ambitious, as hackademics are. So when someone who is clearly intelligent decides to leave school… you can bet that they’re only doing so after they’ve intensely thought it through. They’ve realized that this is what makes the most sense, and they do it, even as plenty of people discourage them from doing something “weird.”
These skills (and more!) make hackademics excellent teammates on any endeavor. When working on a project, they will step up and lead it. They’ll work hard. They’ll work smart. And they will contribute in a big way to any organization they’re a part of -- it’s just who they are: a hackademic.