Qualifications vs. Experience

Qualifications vs. Experience

Three months short of my 21 birthday. That’s it. Only 90 days separate me from renting a vehicle and hitchhiking. I have called every rental company within an hour radius of my hometown and every one of them has given me the same answer. I have to be 21.

I have had my license for four years, never received a single ticket, and have driven in DC traffic, yet I am not qualified to rent a car. A 21-year-old who has only ever driven from their house to Wally World, has ten speeding tickets, and freaks out in traffic can rent a vehicle without a second question.

This is the difference between Qualifications and Experience. One will approve you for a rental car while the other will land you a job.

Rental car companies look to qualifications to prove experience while hiring companies look at experience to prove one’s qualifications.

As the worth of a degree becomes less and less valuable, experience is the credential that companies are looking for. Just as being 21 doesn’t guarantee that you are a safe driver, so a piece of paper with a University’s name on it no longer guarantees that you have the skills necessary to succeed in the work field.

A perfect example of this is a nifty little machine we have at the store I currently work at. The Box Baylor takes large boxes and smashes them into single bales that can be thrown away or recycled.

Upon being hired I was required to take an online safety course for this machine. I watched an hour’s worth of content and aced the written test, yet I still do not know how to run our Box Baylor. I can tell you how it should be run but I have never actually performed these actions. If an emergency happened and boxes needed to be crushed, I would have to figure it out as I went and would most likely lose a finger or two.

Yet according to my profile, I am certified and therefore qualified to do this job.

I can’t help but laugh every time I walk by this machine and think of how silly the whole thing is.

The same logic goes for college degrees.

You may have a diploma in Accounting but are you able to look at a situation and come up with a creative solution that best fits your customer’s needs? Will your degree in Business Management help with your communication skills? Commuter Science is cool but did any of your classes teach you how to have empathy for the person on the other side of your screen?

Each of these three soft skills that I just mentioned is actual requirements for a TED Sales role that I am currently pursuing. Yet no university provides courses on these topics.

It is for this reason I am taking and alternative path.

Instead of throwing myself into the College Education lottery, hoping that my “21-year-old, fake ID” will land me a job, I have chosen to prove my qualification through experience.

At the moment I am going through a program called Praxis. This involves a six-month boot camp followed by a six-month internship at an exciting start-up company. The main agenda of the boot camp is to create a portfolio to showcase my skills and abilities to potential employers. The internship is focused on taking these skills and applying them to real-world experience.

A few of the experiences I’ve already gathered under my belt from this program include a professional website, case studies on Building a Second Brain and The 4 Roles That Every Startup Needs, a Crash portfolio, and I am in the process of completing a 30-day blog challenge.

Each of these projects showcases my ability to create value. These are experiences that prove my qualifications as opposed to qualifications that promise to produce experience.

I may not be old enough to rent a car but I am on the fast track to landing a sweet job. With the transition from degrees to experience, perhaps soon rental companies will take into consideration driving experience over age.

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