Does Your Degree Get You Passed Over for Promotion?
It’s time to address a sensitive topic: you and your college degree, especially if you are getting passed over for promotion and are having trouble advancing in your job. I know how hard this topic is for those of us attached to years of college studies in difficult curricula.
With not one but two electrical engineering degrees (BS & MS), I found myself glued with loyalty to my college degrees early in my career … until I realized the shocking truth: It was holding me back from getting promoted.
And here I thought I was special because of my top grades and my respectable degree. Alas, that’s not how corporate America operates.
Let me ask you:
Who says you have to stay forever married to your college degree(s)?
Who decided that just because we spend 2 to 4 years studying something that we need to spend a lifetime practicing it?
And yet this thinking is brainwashed into many of us, so I can’t blame you if you think that way. I thought that way for a long time.
I dreaded engineering. It was so not for me. But when I had earned those difficult degrees, when I was at last free to do anything with my life, I did nothing in response. I could not bring myself to change course. It felt disloyal. I had just put in far too much blood and sweat into the darn program to walk away from it now.
Do you feel this sense of loyalty to your college degrees or other certifications?
Do you feel a sense of duty to practice what you learned indefinitely?
And if you abandon it, living with the burden of guilt?
Heck, if you yourself didn’t feel the guilt, someone would make you feel guilty about it, that’s for sure!
What A College Degree Really Means
There can be a better way to look at this and one that can help you make leaps and bounds in your career and put an end to getting passed over for promotion:
A college degree is a way to explore the young mind and put it to use, train it, test it, stretch it and in the process, prepare it for a lifetime of real learning and work that is aligned to our deep values and our true fulfillment. A university program is there to open your eyes to the world, not to limit it so you look through the same old lens.
You do not have to stay married to your education or your certifications forever.
There is something far more important to aim for: the sense of fulfillment in your daily work. Let that be your true measuring stick as to whether you belong in your line of work or are better off pursuing something else.
And that’s how natural advancement at the workplace will start to happen because you are following what you find exciting and passionate, and your management wants enthusiastic people at the top of the chain.
Take engineering at corporate, for instance. Management appreciates engineers, but they are not interested in just engineering skills for the engineer, no matter how smart or useful they are. They want the engineers to explore outside their field, to learn communication and marketing skills and to even do a rotation or two in other areas in the company.
That’s the stuff that gets an engineer promoted. Not more engineering, but more useful transferable skills that helps the company’s bottom-line.
In fact, that’s the stuff that gives an engineer a huge lead over other engineers because on top of their technical skills, they have now learned so much else simply by being willing to set aside their college studies and do work that is totally outside that realm. So remember that insider scoop about how management really operates – which gets you closer and closer to that promotion.
Listen, I am not discrediting the value that goes into a college or university education by any means. I just want you to question the lifetime devotion to it especially if it is in conflict with your true feelings.
Here’s the thing, you never “abandon” your learning from college or university. You take it with you and use the experience toward shaping your career. You let it help you fill in the gaps with whatever else you need to learn. That is the best use of an education: to fulfill a dream, a desire, a yearning to do work that we can love and find meaningful.
As a self-employed business woman, I no longer practice engineering or many of my skills from the corporate world directly – the keyword here is directly – but I still use the analytical thinking, the process of solving a problem, and find myself thinking clearly and logically about everything while appreciating the artistic and creative side of me.
My college education enhances my work every day but it’s not at the center, and it’s not even on the surface so it’s hard for others to see it – that doesn’t matter because to me, it is serving its purpose.
Your homework from this strategy is this: Think about this question: What do you need to do to make your college degree serve its purpose?