No Degree Required: How To Work In SaaS Sales & Pursue Employment Without A College Degree
Interview with Jonaed Iqbal of the NoDegree Website & Podcast
What are the options for job seekers without a college degree? Fortunately, a lot more plentiful in 2021 and 2022 than in years prior.
According to a recent article in CNBC, “STAR workers are on the rise. STAR stands for “skilled through alternative routes” such as tech bootcamps, community college programs, workforce training, on-the-job skills building, and military service.”
These initiatives, along with programs like Aspireship’s SaaS Sales Foundations, also help increase earning potential for job seekers in a few camps: those with a few college credits under their belt, or even none at all. Additional data from the same CNBC piece states that, “According to a new report conducted by McKinsey and nonprofit Opportunity@Work, as many as 30 million U.S. workers without college diplomas have the skills necessary to earn 70% more.”
Training programs and bootcamps aren’t the only catalyst for shifting away from requiring degrees. There are career advisors, online communities and resume experts also championing the shift away from the mindset that a degree = the only inroads to an interview.
Today, we’re excited to introduce you to one of the biggest advocates in this space: Jonaed Iqbal, founder of the NoDegree website and podcast. Created seven years ago, long before the pandemic, NoDegree is a resource for job seekers without degrees.
And if you’ve found yourself wondering, “does Aspireship require me to have a degree to break into SaaS sales or the tech sector?” the answer is no, we do not!
On Forming NoDegree.com
Aspireship: What was the inspiration behind your launch of NoDegree.com and the NoDegree Podcast?
NoDegree: I saw that there were so many careers for those without college degrees but they weren’t careers that you initially thought of. I also knew there were plenty of nontraditional ways to break into careers. I started NoDegree.com to educate people about the careers that people without college degrees could break into. In 2019, podcasts grew and I realized that it would be amazing if I interviewed people without college degrees and shared their stories. Thus, the NoDegree Podcast was born!
Aspireship: What are some of the reasons you’ve seen people forgo a college degree?
NoDegree: There are just so many. Not everyone likes school. Some people just don’t do well in the school environment. Finances are another reason, big time. Family support and family obligations are also a big one. It is a luxury to be able to go to school for an extended period of time. About 80% of kids who go to college come from middle class backgrounds or better. Some people have family they need to take care of now. Some people just don’t know what they want to do. It doesn’t make sense to pay $10K-$60K a year if you don’t know what you want to do. Nowadays, there are so many opportunities that you can get without a degree. I know people who go to bootcamps when they graduate high school and land great jobs within a year. By the time they are 22, they have 2-3 years of solid work experience and are ahead of their college counterparts.
Aspireship: How has the NoDegree movement changed over the years?
NoDegree: It has gotten more support. When I started it in 2014, people were supportive but companies weren’t. In the past few years, a lot more companies are open to hiring those without college degrees. There is still a big bias against those without college degrees, but it is much better. There are so many more resources available today. So many bootcamps and training programs have popped up within the last few years.
Advice for Those Forgoing the Traditional College Degree
Aspireship: What should job seekers forgoing degrees do instead to gain business and professional experience?
NoDegree: They should figure out ways to learn. They should undertake projects. They can either do projects themself or for companies. They should network. Podcasts and online courses are two areas where there is just so much great content.
Aspireship: How can people overcome the mental obstacles or comparison game they may put themselves in by assuming their path will be harder than that of degree holders?
NoDegree: The road to a great career is never easy. However a harder path will give you a different perspective and will put you in a great position at work. Resilience is one of the top skills in people that employers look for, and successful people without degrees pick it up during their journey. The real world is not like school. You aren’t given a framework and you aren’t given the structure school has. You have to figure stuff out and this is something people without degrees are very familiar with.
Aspireship: How can candidates with no degree present their strengths and skills on a resume?
NoDegree: The great thing is that employers focus on skills and experience more. I have seen many employers assume that my clients have degrees because they are great candidates. It is very important to focus on your accomplishments and have a resume that is clean and professional. Focus on the skills and experience that you have. Don’t focus on what you don’t have. At the end of the day, look for the skills that the employer wants. Show that you can do that job. Everything else is secondary.
Aspireship: What’s a common misconception you want to debunk about job seekers with no college degree?
NoDegree: That they don’t have a shot. I come across so many job seekers who think they have no shot and that they need a degree. It couldn’t be further from the truth. Now, it does depend on industry, but focus on showing what you bring to the table and how you can add value to the organization. Show how you will make a serious difference.
On Pursuing Sales Careers Without a Degree
Aspireship: In your opinion, why is sales a great career pathway for those with no degree?
NoDegree: Here’s why: for one, you don’t learn sales in college. You don’t learn how to network or cold call in college. You don’t learn anything about CRMs or how to send an email that people will respond to. You don’t learn to follow up or anything about the sales cycle. A person with a college degree has no skill advantages when it comes to sales. The only advantage they have is that they may be favored because of the biases employers have. And as a salesperson, you can always use your sales skills to land interviews!
Aspireship: Any final words of encouragement you want to share?
NoDegree: The future is favoring those with skills and experience. Every year, the degree is losing value. The future is also favoring those who are always learning. This is something you control. Go out and make a difference!