Do I need a degree?

graduates throwing diplomas in the air
Photo by Emily Ranquist from Pexels

Holding a degree in business has never led to a potential employer overly inquiring about my degree. They simply wanted to know whether I had a degree or not. 

I am Peter H. It’s October 20, 2021

Getting my degree and setting off into the world of business was a great feeling. I felt as if my job options would be in abundance. Many of my friends and colleagues also earned their college degree around the same time as myself. 

It was time to put together a sufficient CV and resume and let the job search begin, but where to begin? 

Walking down a busy Manhattan street back in 2008, degree in hand, gave me the motivation needed to literally put my foot in the door of some of the city’s finest businesses. I wasn’t quite the salesman at the time, but I knew that in order to network myself, I needed to get in front of high-position professionals and give them my pitch. 

NEXT BLOG – Bankruptcy and the Beach

At the time, many of my friends graduated from college with degrees, but were unsuccessful in finding employment. They had mentioned to me that I would have the same fate. They bet on it. It was time to prove them wrong or so I thought. 

Back to my job search. After many hours of entering many business locations, I got met with the same response, “We’ll call you to set up an interview.” I thought these were ideal responses, but the truth was that none of the prospective employers reached out to me. After 1 week of job searching, I felt demoralized, discouraged. 

To me, getting a degree meant an easier job search. To me, getting a degree meant success. 

I had a student loan, which gave me the added motivation to get out there, resume my job search, and not give up. I was not going to quit. 

The following month was a planned attack to get as many job leads as possible. I thought I was doing everything correctly – I entered business offices with a suit, and maintained eye contact. I did my research.

Then there was the day that changed things for me, and gave me a different perspective – 

It was just before lunch. I approached a female secretary of an investment firm with my resume and degree. I was eager to let her know of my arrival and my interest in working with their company. She gave me a few minutes of her time. We conversed. I informed her of my skills and my, you guessed it, degree.

The words she shared with me were a sudden reality check. It was also very disappointing to hear. She mentioned that the company, in which she worked, receives roughly 1000 applicants a month, and that every applicant has attained a college degree. And that most of the people who get hired on permanently are through a family member. Her father for instance was V.P of marketing at the firm, and when I asked her if she had her degree, she grinned and shook her head. 

I remember venting to her. I said that I just spent a lot of money and a lot of time in this degree program and I can’t even land a job interview. I believed it was a quality investment. She showed some empathy. 

She further explained that the degree was a good investment and that I needed to be more patient. 

Patience. It is easy to have patience when you live with your mom and dad. At the time, I was renting an expensive room in the city and patience was the last thing I had, as I didn’t exactly enjoy living with roommates and I wanted to get my own place.

Before leaving the building, I shook the lady’s hand and she gave me some important words.”It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

That was the first day that I ever went for a drink alone. It was lunch time, and instead of ordering a burger and fries, I ordered a pint of beer. In stressful reflection, I rubbed my eyes and scratched my head. 

Yes, we’ve all heard that saying before. “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” I didn’t think that was the case. I thought your success was based on your experience, schooling.

NEXT BLOG – Bankruptcy and the Beach

Fast forward 5 years

My degree did and did not work for me. I continued to put in the effort and it paid off. I found meaningful work. With regards to the degree, some companies required it and some did not. 

Have I been working in a field related to my degree? With one job, yes and one job, no.

My friends who received their degrees are in a completely different field from which they graduated. They said that they could have continued pursuing a placement after they received their degrees, but they discovered that they lost passion for that particular profession. 


Some people enjoy working from the office, and others prefer having a work truck and getting their hands dirty. Find out what you want to do before you invest in a degree program. Be sure. 

Was getting a degree necessary?

Yes. For myself, it worked or perhaps I’m just telling myself that because I can’t let myself come to terms that I spend such a hefty amount on education for a job that was connection based. 

I assume some of it comes down to common sense. If you want to be a doctor or lawyer, you need some type of formal training and education. It’s factual.

If you want to get into computer programming, tech, there is a lot of free content online, an abundance, actually. Perhaps not getting a degree, and saving that money to buy a house might be a better option. 

A degree signifies something truly important – That you can start something and finish it, and if you can do that, you are steps ahead of the masses.

Good day, all.

Thanks to for this guest blogging experience.