Can we change the “Have to go to college” conversation?

May 24, 2016 | Uncategorized

Why is it educators are telling students that in order for them to “be successful” they need to go to college? Can someone be successful in the workplace without a college degree? I would argue YES! Are our youth told that? NO. Are young people going to college and dropping out at alarming rates? YES. Are young people finishing college with crushing debt? YES. So why is it taboo to have an alternative conversation that sounds like this…“You can be successful without a college degree, IF you have marketable skills, are willing to work hard, and you find a good company that will hire and train from within.” Sounds like a no-brainer to this Mainer!

Take Kara and Sarah, both employees from Hancock Lumber. I met them as part of the Hancock Lumber video series I produced for my site Destination Occupation. Each of their stories highlights my point that you need to have marketable skills, be willing to work hard and find a good company that will hire and train you from within.

Sarah’s job as a counter pro means she has to have good customer service skills. Below she explains the critical marketable skills she needs to be successful:

“Working here at the desk, we have to have excellent customer service skills: phone skills, computer skills, money skills. When the computer is not working, you really need to know how to count change. You have to have knowledge around building materials. Often customers come in and they don’t know the exact materials they need for their job, and we really take pride in making sure they leave with what they need and only what they need to get their job done.”

Kara measuringKara is a great example of being hired and trained from within. She started right out of high school with an entry level position at Hancock Lumber and has worked and trained her way up to a project pro position where she is happy and successful. She explains her career path:

“I started at Hancock Lumber right out of high school from where I would answer the phones and stock the shelves and then I moved to the inside sales support where I assisted the outside salesmen and dealt directly with the contractors. And from there I went into the Project Pro position where I am right now. I feel like this is really where I want to be; it is an exciting job and I love dealing with different people on a daily basis.”

Both of these women are successful without a college degree and neither has to deal with crushing college debt. Add to that the bonus of good pay with benefits at a solid Maine company and the concept of that alternative conversation doesn’t seem that taboo, does it?

Watch Sarah and Kara’s Hancock Lumber videos here: Hancock Lumber videos on Destination Occupation