So you've got a degree; big whoop

By | 2011/04/03

I have a Bachelor of Computer Science degree, something which I find moderately pleasing, but doesn’t tend to be something I dwell on too often.

Lately I’ve been reflecting somewhat on the previous company I worked for, which collapsed in a screaming heap of debt. Someone senior at the company was – for want of a better term – a knowledge snob. If you didn’t either have 15+ years of industry experience, or an actual degree, then that person really wasn’t interested in what talents you may have had.

Now, I agree, in some areas a degree is important. I wouldn’t, for instance, go to a doctor who doesn’t have a degree. And I have no doubt that a degree can be beneficial in many other fields, including IT – but lets be perfectly frank; you can be as smart as possible on paper, but still barely one step removed from a gibbering moron in real life.

Knowledge snobbery is the assumption that the more letters you can add to the end of your name, the more important and more intelligent you are. While there can be a good overlap on the intelligence front, there there is no guaranteed overlap at all. Some of the smartest people I know have no formal qualifications what so ever, and some of the people with the highest qualifications I know I’d be reluctant to let scrub my toilet.

Or to put it another way: if someone tells me I should yield to their superior position because either they have more letters after their name than me, or because they have been working in the industry for longer than me — with that being the sole rationale — then they’re a knowledge snob.

Please, be as smart as you can be, but don’t let it turn you into a smart arse.