Posted by Joe Alonzo, Director of eDiscovery/Computer Forensics at Glenmont Group
I read an article last month that discussed high-tech (present & former) CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Larry Ellison and the importance of college degrees. As (most of) the world knows, Zuckerberg attended Harvard University and did not finish, starting the Facebook in his college dorm room. Sure, a very common success story.
Mentioned in the article is that less than five CEOs of the top 50 largest US technology companies do not possess a college degree, conversely more than half of this list has at least one graduate degree. Jerry Luftman, managing director of the Global Institute for IT was quoted as saying “I’ve met as many successful tech CEOs who have dropped out college as I’ve met folks who have won the lottery.”
The insignificance of a college degree in today’s time is a misnomer. Throughout my career, I have heard many say, “it’s just a piece of paper” and disregard its importance on people entering the workforce. While there have certainly been exceptions, my personal opinion is that it’s critically important to your success. During your four, (sometimes) five or eight structured years in college, you are constantly prepared for tense situations, taught to work under pressure, prepare for deadlines and work with formalized procedures. As many will agree, these all are very important tools to have upon entering and succeeding in the workforce.
As the old adage goes, “If it were easy, everyone would be doing it”, and I suppose the world would see many more like Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison and Mark Zuckerberg. The creativity, entrepreneurial spirit and courageous attitude shared by these three are traits that many today have as well, but are not all that is required for a building a technology giant.
Just as the old Public Service Announcement said back in the 90’s: Be cool, stay in school.
Joe Alonzo has nearly a decade of experience in executive recruiting and career counseling. He has helped some of most recognized legal technology and financial institutions expand their workforce throughout his career.