Author Topic: Degrees and Certificates - are those usefull or not?  (Read 12289 times)

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Offline Ysjoelfir

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Degrees and Certificates - are those usefull or not?
« on: December 22, 2015, 12:36:09 pm »
Hi everyone!
Since I am enrolled at university right now and already had an quite good education in electronics (I scored as the best one in germany that time, yay!) before and went through some companies, too (screw you money ftw!), because every single one was a PITA in respect to payment and working conditions.
My university allows us to gather some certificates (for example Matlab, Embeded Systems and stuff like that) for prices from 50€ to 500€ and I was thinking about taking the opportunity to get some of those. But as I noticed before, even the best education doesn't guarantee you a good working condition. So is it even worth the time and money to get additional certificates those days? What are your experiences?
Greetings, Kai \ Ysjoelfir
 

Offline Galenbo

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Re: Degrees and Certificates - are those usefull or not?
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2015, 12:42:23 pm »
...My university allows us to gather some certificates (for example Matlab, Embeded Systems and stuff like that) for prices from 50€ to 500€ and...worth the time and money to get additional certificates those days? What are your experiences?
Invent, organise and promote your own certificates, and let others pay you for it.
Not as easy as it may sound, but if you succeed, way more valuable to put that on your CV.
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Offline agronaught

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Re: Degrees and Certificates - are those usefull or not?
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2015, 01:21:52 pm »

A degree is IMHO your foot in the door, once you have a job remaining 'current' is the key to staying employed.  Don't ever count on an employer for training, its your career, your responsibility.

I've spent my entire career in the IT industry and have always worked hard to remain current which can be difficult these days given the 'cutting edge' can come and go in a short number of years.   I wouldn't recommend the field to anybody, especially since we seem to be entering yet another phase of offshore outsourcing across a number of industries.  While this does mean that in 4-5 years there will be more screaming for skilled people to fix everything that was outsourced it is growing more diffucult to maintain consistent, reliable, well paid employment.

Build value in yourself, for yourself.  Don't depend on anybody to do it for you.

* Your degree is simply a starting point.  Admittedly an important one.
* Higher degrees (masters, doctorates) can help, they aren't as career limiting as they were in my day (overqualified BS)
* Experience first where you can get it.
* Certificates second where you can't.
* Never refuse an opportunity.
* Career advancement is complete BS in Australia.  It's taken me far too long to realise this.
* Don't remain too long with any one employer or industry.  Flexibility in employment is important as industries can come and go.
* At the same time, don't change employers too often...

This is all my opinion.  Other people have had different experiences.
Cheers
J.
 

Offline VK3DRB

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Re: Degrees and Certificates - are those usefull or not?
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2015, 11:45:17 pm »
Get your degree.

As mentioned before it is a foot in the door. Plus it opens doors throughout your life. An engineering degree is not only a stepping stone, it is also an insurance policy to some extent.

Billy Joel dropped out of school but is worth $180 million. He went back and completed his high school diploma not long ago because it was something he had to do. He earned great admiration in doing so. When you earn your degree, you will have something that even Bill Gates cannot buy even with his $79 BILLION dollars. Gates is a drop-out, but he could go back and completes his degree if he wanted to. You never know, Gates might learn something as well be earn his degree.

You can lose you house in a fire, you can lose your family and all your worldly possessions, but you can never lose your qualifications. They are with you for life. Even those who have lost the faith and pursued some other career, still have their qualifications and letters after their name.

This all being said, there are people who earn an engineering degree but are hopeless. And there are people who don't have an engineering degree who have leave some degreed engineers for dead with their superior skills, knowledge and passion. Some companies will not hire anyone as an engineer unless they have that piece of paper - it happens in Australia but more so in the USA and maybe in Germany. Which is unfortunate, but that is the reality.

In any case, get your degree. You will not regret it.

As for those certificates, like Matlab etc, keep them. When you submit your resume for your first job, attach them. It might give you the edge in getting the job.
 

Offline tggzzz

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Re: Degrees and Certificates - are those usefull or not?
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2015, 12:31:33 am »
vk3rdb and agronautmake valid points.

In addition, do a difficult private project that isn't required for your course. Discuss it during interview, saying what you would do better next time. That will demonstrate you are enthusiastic, and not just a time-server.
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Offline free_electron

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Re: Degrees and Certificates - are those usefull or not?
« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2015, 12:54:38 am »
put em in a nice frame. can be used to cover an ugly spot, crack or hole in the wall.
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Online Rick Law

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Re: Degrees and Certificates - are those usefull or not?
« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2015, 12:55:00 am »
...
Billy Joel dropped out of school but is worth $180 million. He went back and completed his high school diploma not long ago because it was something he had to do. He earned great admiration in doing so. When you earn your degree, you will have something that even Bill Gates cannot buy even with his $79 BILLION dollars. Gates is a drop-out, but he could go back and completes his degree if he wanted to. You never know, Gates might learn something as well be earn his degree.
...

re: "...He earned great admiration in doing so. When you earn your degree, you will have something that even Bill Gates cannot buy even with his $79 BILLION dollars..."

Want to bet?  All he has to do is to donate some money, or a building, or build a "research center" and he will get his honorary Phd in no time.

In the next 10 years, you will see Dr. Bill Gates in his biography.

 

Offline miguelvp

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Re: Degrees and Certificates - are those usefull or not?
« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2015, 01:26:07 am »
...
Billy Joel dropped out of school but is worth $180 million. He went back and completed his high school diploma not long ago because it was something he had to do. He earned great admiration in doing so. When you earn your degree, you will have something that even Bill Gates cannot buy even with his $79 BILLION dollars. Gates is a drop-out, but he could go back and completes his degree if he wanted to. You never know, Gates might learn something as well be earn his degree.
...

re: "...He earned great admiration in doing so. When you earn your degree, you will have something that even Bill Gates cannot buy even with his $79 BILLION dollars..."

Want to bet?  All he has to do is to donate some money, or a building, or build a "research center" and he will get his honorary Phd in no time.

In the next 10 years, you will see Dr. Bill Gates in his biography.

Honorary Dr or not, Gates did graduate from High School back in 73 and was a National Merit Scholar and almost had a perfect SAT score.
 
He is a College drop-out (Harvard at that) after completing 3 years in there.

I like Billy Joel, but he is not on the same league academically :)

From wikipedia:
Quote
Gates graduated from Lakeside School in 1973, and was a National Merit Scholar.[30] He scored 1590 out of 1600 on the SAT[31] and enrolled at Harvard College in the autumn of 1973.[32] While at Harvard, he met Steve Ballmer, who would later succeed Gates as CEO of Microsoft.[33]

In his sophomore year, Gates devised an algorithm for pancake sorting as a solution to one of a series of unsolved problems[34] presented in a combinatorics class by Harry Lewis, one of his professors. Gates's solution held the record as the fastest version for over thirty years;[34][35] its successor is faster by only one percent.[34] His solution was later formalized in a published paper in collaboration with Harvard computer scientist Christos Papadimitriou.[36]

Gates did not have a definite study plan while a student at Harvard[37] and spent a lot of time using the school's computers. Gates remained in contact with Paul Allen, and he joined him at Honeywell during the summer of 1974.[38] The following year saw the release of the MITS Altair 8800 based on the Intel 8080 CPU, and Gates and Allen saw this as the opportunity to start their own computer software company.[39] Gates dropped out of Harvard at this time. He had talked this decision over with his parents, who were supportive of him after seeing how much Gates wanted to start a company.[37]

The lesson here is that even college drop-outs make more than high school ones!

 

Offline mrpackethead

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Re: Degrees and Certificates - are those usefull or not?
« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2015, 01:29:04 am »
They certainly are not "unhelpful"..    If i got a new Degree now, it would make hardly any difference to anything, other than for my own satisfaction.  But i'm not just starting out.. From an employers point of view, someones who has a degree, has the stickability to stay at something for a period of time and see it finished.   That tells me something about their character.
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Online EEVblog

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Re: Degrees and Certificates - are those usefull or not?
« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2015, 02:31:49 am »
* Don't remain too long with any one employer or industry.  Flexibility in employment is important as industries can come and go.
* At the same time, don't change employers too often...

Two years seems to be the industry sweet spot between not looking bad on your resume, and having a change of pace and not getting stale in one place.
 

Offline CatalinaWOW

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Re: Degrees and Certificates - are those usefull or not?
« Reply #10 on: December 23, 2015, 03:07:57 am »
Opinions will vary on quickly you can change jobs without damaging your resume, but every two years seems a bit short to me.  When I was a hiring engineering manager, and when I was advising such I did not find resumes that showed employment intervals much less than three years appealing.  Such resumes required much more attention to avoid making a hiring error.  Needed to figure if the reasons for leaving were going an issue in my shop.  (Things like difficulty working with others, or being detrimental to other employees performance, or any of a number of non-engineering issues).

Also remember that the shorter the time you are projected to stay, the more rapidly you will need to be productive at the new assignment.  From an employers point of view, all employees are initially negative value, even if it is only a very few days.  It takes that long to get ID, internet hookup, etc.  If you aren't a perfect match to the assignment (including deep understanding of the background of their projects) there will be learning time.  If you don't stick around long enough to make up for the early losses you provided no value to the company.

What does all of this mean?  If you are expected to leave in a relatively short time interval much more care will be taken to assure that you are a good fit for the proposed spot.  Laziness or overwork may mean your resume is tossed to avoid this extra care.  Minor deficiencies will not be overlooked.  There will be fewer openings that match up.  It also means that you will find fewer opportunities to learn new things, because companies will only want you for the things you already know how to do.
 

Offline VK3DRB

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Re: Degrees and Certificates - are those usefull or not?
« Reply #11 on: December 23, 2015, 07:45:40 am »
...
Billy Joel dropped out of school but is worth $180 million. He went back and completed his high school diploma not long ago because it was something he had to do. He earned great admiration in doing so. When you earn your degree, you will have something that even Bill Gates cannot buy even with his $79 BILLION dollars. Gates is a drop-out, but he could go back and completes his degree if he wanted to. You never know, Gates might learn something as well be earn his degree.
...

re: "...He earned great admiration in doing so. When you earn your degree, you will have something that even Bill Gates cannot buy even with his $79 BILLION dollars..."

Want to bet?  All he has to do is to donate some money, or a building, or build a "research center" and he will get his honorary Phd in no time.

In the next 10 years, you will see Dr. Bill Gates in his biography.

Honorary degrees are barely worth the paper they are written on. Honorary PhD's do not entitle one to use the word "Doctor" before their name. Universities have received strong criticism and even mass protests handing these out.  George W. Bush received (not earned) an honorary degree in history in 1968. Not bad for someone who seemed to have forgotten the Soviet Union defeat after their invasion of Afghanistan in 1980, and appears to have known nothing of the annihilation of the British in Afghanistan in 1842.

Engineering degrees are earned, based upon years of study and academic results, not based upon how much money donated to a university.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2015, 08:34:31 am by VK3DRB »
 

Offline miguelvp

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Re: Degrees and Certificates - are those usefull or not?
« Reply #12 on: December 23, 2015, 08:40:04 am »
And of course it turns political now :)
 

Offline mrpackethead

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Re: Degrees and Certificates - are those usefull or not?
« Reply #13 on: December 23, 2015, 08:50:14 am »
could we start an EEVblog university. Dave could give out honory degrees to people with great kickstarter ideas.
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Re: Degrees and Certificates - are those usefull or not?
« Reply #14 on: December 23, 2015, 09:02:34 am »
could we start an EEVblog university. Dave could give out honory degrees to people with great kickstarter ideas.

No one gets an award just for an idea!
Execute the thing properly and you might be in the running.
 

Offline VK3DRB

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Re: Degrees and Certificates - are those usefull or not?
« Reply #15 on: December 23, 2015, 09:04:02 am »
The lesson here is that even college drop-outs make more than high school ones!

The may make more but on average they do not. The point is not how much money you make, but that degrees should not be purchased.

Even Justin Bieber, an irresponsible antisocial lout with no formal qualifications has made $200 million by the age of 21. He has 6 years left before he hits the ubiquitous 27.  :-DD
« Last Edit: December 23, 2015, 09:08:21 am by VK3DRB »
 

Offline tggzzz

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Re: Degrees and Certificates - are those usefull or not?
« Reply #16 on: December 23, 2015, 09:34:48 am »
* Don't remain too long with any one employer or industry.  Flexibility in employment is important as industries can come and go.
* At the same time, don't change employers too often...
Two years seems to be the industry sweet spot between not looking bad on your resume, and having a change of pace and not getting stale in one place.

That always used to be the figure, but I'm mildy surprised and pleased it is still the case.

It doesn't apply if you stay longer and can show a solid career and technical progression, preferably with a range of projects and technologies.

If you are in software, beware the HR-droids that presume that if you are over 35, you are "PSBD" (past sell by date)
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
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Offline jaxbird

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Re: Degrees and Certificates - are those usefull or not?
« Reply #17 on: December 23, 2015, 02:00:37 pm »
If you goal is securing a job with a large/very large company/corp, you should try to harvest as many certificates as possible. In this situation, the first filter for any application is the HR department, they have pretty much no knowledge of technical details and don't care about all the "cool" projects you have been working on, all they look at is your level of education, work experience and what certifications you hold. Once they have filtered a stack of applicants they will present them to the hiring manager who decides which applicants to interview.

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Online Rick Law

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Re: Degrees and Certificates - are those usefull or not?
« Reply #18 on: December 23, 2015, 05:28:18 pm »
...
Billy Joel dropped out of school but is worth $180 million. He went back and completed his high school diploma not long ago because it was something he had to do. He earned great admiration in doing so. When you earn your degree, you will have something that even Bill Gates cannot buy even with his $79 BILLION dollars. Gates is a drop-out, but he could go back and completes his degree if he wanted to. You never know, Gates might learn something as well be earn his degree.
...

re: "...He earned great admiration in doing so. When you earn your degree, you will have something that even Bill Gates cannot buy even with his $79 BILLION dollars..."

Want to bet?  All he has to do is to donate some money, or a building, or build a "research center" and he will get his honorary Phd in no time.

In the next 10 years, you will see Dr. Bill Gates in his biography.

Honorary Dr or not, Gates did graduate from High School back in 73 and was a National Merit Scholar and almost had a perfect SAT score.
 
He is a College drop-out (Harvard at that) after completing 3 years in there.

I like Billy Joel, but he is not on the same league academically :)

...

I was not contesting Bill Gate's brain-power.  In those days (1970's 1980's), you do need to be somewhat of a performer or supremely well connected to get into Harvard.

What I was contesting was the statement "you will have something that even Bill Gates cannot buy even with his $79 BILLION dollars."  You bet you can buy it.  Look at the Kennedy(s).  Even got caught hiring people to take tests for him...  I am sure one can find a ton of examples.  Famous people is easier in discussions because more of us know of them.

That said, the degree is still useful.  At any HR department, job requirements are plainly listed - be it Phd, MS, BS...   I am sure in most cases if you somehow distinct yourself, the hiring manager can go for an exception.  But, if you are just a person who just dropped by in a job fair, why would I want to spend the energy to fight HR?

There is no doubt a degree opens doors.



...
...
Honorary degrees are barely worth the paper they are written on. Honorary PhD's do not entitle one to use the word "Doctor" before their name. Universities have received strong criticism and even mass protests handing these out.  George W. Bush received (not earned) an honorary degree in history in 1968. Not bad for someone who seemed to have forgotten the Soviet Union defeat after their invasion of Afghanistan in 1980, and appears to have known nothing of the annihilation of the British in Afghanistan in 1842.

Engineering degrees are earned, based upon years of study and academic results, not based upon how much money donated to a university.

Forget honorary or not.  Our current president has an "earned" degree from Harvard.  I doubt he can speak in complete sentences.

Trouble when school moved away from scholastic merit and pure scholastic merit, you have people who has no business even being on campus getting law degrees and lecturing law.

Ridiculous as this situation is, it really is a case and point of the degree being useful.  With a degree, even if you are an absolute moron, and at a university like U of Chicago, home of where sustained fission chain reaction was achieved, would hire you to lecture.
 

Offline miguelvp

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Re: Degrees and Certificates - are those usefull or not?
« Reply #19 on: December 23, 2015, 05:42:18 pm »
I wasn't disagreeing with you but with VK3DRB, I didn't mean to imply that you where contesting Gates capability.

A degree does open some doors to get you started, but your work and merits opens the rest of them.
 

Offline tggzzz

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Re: Degrees and Certificates - are those usefull or not?
« Reply #20 on: December 23, 2015, 06:01:29 pm »
A degree does open some doors to get you started, but your work and merits opens the rest of them.

It is more accurate to say that a lack of a degree ensures some doors aren't opened, but the door may not be the only route to the other side - there may be some other "long ways around".

Once on the other side, your work and merits are (usually) more important.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2015, 06:38:29 pm by tggzzz »
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
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Online Rick Law

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Re: Degrees and Certificates - are those usefull or not?
« Reply #21 on: December 23, 2015, 06:14:45 pm »
I wasn't disagreeing with you but with VK3DRB, I didn't mean to imply that you where contesting Gates capability.

A degree does open some doors to get you started, but your work and merits opens the rest of them.

Also in agreement, merit not only opens doors, but merit keeps you in the job and rising.  At times, people "luck into" certain positions only to flame out in no time.  I've seen many examples of that.  Something as comic book as "running into a relative who is in senior management at..." and in six months, that very same relative had to fire her...

Job moving has many disadvantages and many advantages.  One of the advantage is the track record of having proven yourself under different environments.  It shows your performance is more merit based than connections or odd events.  When company X is considering you, company X is never sure if you performed at company Y for 10+ years because you walked into your boss doing whatever with his secretary and wanted to "pay for your silence."
 

Offline VK3DRB

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Re: Degrees and Certificates - are those usefull or not?
« Reply #22 on: December 23, 2015, 11:46:16 pm »
I wasn't disagreeing with you but with VK3DRB, I didn't mean to imply that you where contesting Gates capability.

A degree does open some doors to get you started, but your work and merits opens the rest of them.

Absolutely it does open doors to get you started. And keeps opening doors over time. I don't think the value of the degree diminishes much over a working life. I have found those who still have the passion, updated skills and the piece of paper can get work when they are older, in a country like Australia where discrimination against older people (ageism) is rife despite it being illegal. In other words, a degree may extend your battery life (ie: working life), as does practice and passion.

I apply the three A's when considering hiring someone. The A's are like a peace sign pie graph; a third for each of the following: Ability, Aptitude, Attitude.

If any of those are missing, they are not hired. A degree helps reinforce the three A's but it is not guaranteed.

I have a friend who with his brother ran an electronics company for the taxi industry. They manufactured systems that used RF data transmissions from the taxi company to the taxis. They would only hire EE's with a degree AND a ham radio license because in my friend's own words, "A volunteer is worth ten conscripts." They were very selective and it paid off. The company was very successful, exporting systems around the world.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2015, 12:39:55 am by VK3DRB »
 

Offline Howardlong

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Re: Degrees and Certificates - are those usefull or not?
« Reply #23 on: December 24, 2015, 01:26:03 am »
A degree does open some doors to get you started, but your work and merits opens the rest of them.

It is more accurate to say that a lack of a degree ensures some doors aren't opened, but the door may not be the only route to the other side - there may be some other "long ways around".

Once on the other side, your work and merits are (usually) more important.

Generally agreed: if you're looking for a job in the open market as opposed to getting one through personal recommendation, there aren't many HR nazis that'll let you through the door unless you have a degree for EE. I personally find it sickening.

The box tickers in HR usually don't even read a cv/resume but you can be sure they'll have some cheap outsourced psychometric/numeracy/literacy prescreening test, but when I see a CV with several typos and the writer can't even string a sentence together I just wonder what value HR add, not to mention the crazy preferred or even single supplier mentality they often use. For me, a cv with several typos on it tells me far more about the person than any degree does, and is unlikely to get an invitation from me to interview as a result.

On the subject of the literacy prescreening, I'd love to know what the bar is, it seems extraordinarily low to me.

As you get on in career, assuming you're good at your job I found that you're far more likely to get a job through previous work contacts and recommendations than on the open market, so that short circuits all the HR nonsense anyway.
 

Offline mrpackethead

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Re: Degrees and Certificates - are those usefull or not?
« Reply #24 on: December 24, 2015, 01:50:25 am »
ing you're good at your job I found that you're far more likely to get a job through previous work contacts and recommendations than on the open market, so that short circuits all the HR nonsense anyway.

The the point that they start calling you.
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