When I was in high school, the next step for me that was on my mind was going to university and not just any one but Edna Manley College. I was going to pursue a course in Graphic Arts, hoping to become a Graphic Artist or Animator in the future.
Over 4 years later, I am not even close to that goal. Granted I will admit that I made a lot of mistakes when I was young and it led to me not completing this goal. In looking back on my life though I have never come to the point where I regretted what transpired. I realized I grew from these experiences and I have become the person I am today because of these mistakes and events.
So now I have no degree, certificate or certification of any kind. By some people’s standards I would be defined as an unskilled worker, but if all went to plan back then I wouldn’t be. I would be able to certify my skills and have learned the knowledge necessary to theorize and solve problems in my field. Strangely for me I have the skill and a good amount of knowledge to that effect, but why I never got around to get certified you ask?
At the high school level in Jamaica we did CXC (Caribbean Exam Council) examinations as the final proof of our knowledge learned during the couple of years spent in school. They consisted of varied number of topics. The student would choose from 4 to 8 subject topics to do up to his final year where Mathematics and English Language is usually compulsory.
Well the thing is I never actually graduated; I failed so many of my CXC exams that ended up didn’t qualifying for the magnificent ceremony. It was the most immense shock of existence, being an above average student at the time I found it debilitating but I supposed then you needed to be a genius to succeed at CXC. I was wrong though as I would find out.
CXC in its blunt form would be defined as an academic or achievement exam, meant for mostly testing achievement in knowledge gained on the subject area and test application of said knowledge to problem solving questions provided. Really and truly standardized achievement tests such as these are as good as you make of them, meaning they evaluate your knowledge and solving of problems in the format of the test, nothing more.
You would have to practically use the knowledge to gain anything of it, this isn’t taught though but a student is supposed to realize this. Everyone is different; as such each person should learn how to do this on their own, in their own way. As far as passing these types of exams practice makes perfect, as previously said you have to make practical use of the knowledge hence practice. Whether you read it, recall the knowledge in your head when you’re not doing anything, do some problem solving questions etc, just practice and you’re unlikely to fail.
When I practiced more, I redid three of the subject test I failed and passed them with better grades. So you would have assumed it was onto Edna Manley right? Not exactly, I decided to stay at the institution I had redo my CXC subjects at, PCC (Portmore Community College) and pursued an associate degree in Computer Applications and Business. Unfortunately I didn’t complete my degree due to financial constants.
So here I am an unskilled worker, the amount of times I get told to get more subjects, go back to school. Don’t know about you but that isn’t happening on my salary, J$15,000 on a short course, that’s half my salary! Think that translate to around US$129. I could always save, no that’s not possible. Savings usually get spent on some emergency eventually.
They say education is an investment, but I have come to realize that it’s really nothing more than a badge, you have a certificate in this, diploma in that, masters in this, paper that to most employers means nothing because the common truth is attitude, skill and knowledge application abilities matter more. These are not taught in school, it’s expected to trickle down to you through an instantaneous stroke of genius. For the masses of students coming out of school and college, most don’t even gain the basics of these skills.
For example one of the many skills you learn throughout your school life but is constantly ignored is how to research. Whether it be for a project or otherwise, we all learn how to research for topics based on the information needed, how to chart and summarize the data, which additional information would help, how to arrange it into its intended sections, make conclusions on the information and cite references and sources.
Think of it this way the basics of research can help you differentiate between information you need from information you don’t need, like let’s say when you are searching for a solution to a Hand of Fate crashing, so you Google search and meticulously screen though the advice and suggestions given on each Video Game site, Forum, test out the simpler ones until you have to go above and beyond, but also researching whether the method is safe to use, after all no one wants to go into their registry screw up their system mind you.
Or better yet let’s say you get an interview, the company is moderately known and even has a LinkedIn profile and Facebook page. A smart prospecting candidate regardless of whether they knew about this would still go online research the company, how long do have been around, what services they specifically offer and the person or persons that run the company. You can do a cold call and find out this, though internet is better and easier in my opinion.
Badges do look nice though, and carries with them a sense of respect you get automatically which I suppose is better when you think about it, at least this way you can get your foot in the door. It shouts “Been there, done that!” to employers, first impressions are everything in the world of careers and business. If you had that badge with the attitude and skill to back it up, you are more solid than most people.
So when you think about it the badge gets you in the first time, the person you are and skills you have kept there, making the employer wanting you to walk in everyday. Hopefully in time I can get my badge to show, both investments are important , but at the end of the day you have to make them important.