Where to start?
I've been at my job over 12 years now, to me it's just a job. Nothing about it interests me, nothing about it motivates me, nothing about it even makes me happy since my desk neighbor retired earlier this year (who's going to buy me birthday and Christmas gifts?!) and I never actually chose this job/career. I left my previous employer, as a contractor, when things I refused to even peripherally be a part of were going on and the first place to make an offer, some 17 weeks after handing in my notice, was where I work now. It's an alright job with decent benefits, the pay leaves me wanting considerably however and it's a job that will be augmented (meaning the vast majority of humans replaced) by some variation of AI once OCR technology gets good enough in the next 5-10 years.
Every couple of years I try to find something else. I don't have a degree and as someone I respect very much, that is orders of magnitude more succesful than I, once referred to a degree as 'a de facto dues card' and he was right. We both agree it is sad that we live in a world where degrees are still a priority, even when wholly unrelated to a field. This year alone I've had 3 companies outright reject me for not having a degree, one of which was doing the same job I've done for the past 12 years for a company that is 6 years old... I had another company reject me for a career change citing I lacked experience in a corporate environment and making decisions yet I have to interpret a commercial invoice and classify every item in a shipment then file paperwork with Customs and multiple other government agencies daily which could result in shipments ranging from hundreds of dollars to many millions of dollars of customer freight being tied up or outright seized due to errors I might make AND a mistake on my part can result in fines of hundreds to theoretically millions of dollars per shipment but yes, I suppose I'm not qualified to be an executive assistant.
I feel defeated.
I can't continue doing this job. I am pigeonholed into my current job as I lack experience, I'm one emergency away from being in serious financial trouble because I actually make less most years due to inflation and rising insurance costs and now some states have minimum wage within a dollar of what I make after 12 years on the job. I have no desire to obtain a degree, that would mean tens of thousands of dollars and another 4-6 years, putting me in my late 30's with a 4-year degree fighting for entry level positions against 21-22 year old individuals that are going to be far more attractive to companies.
I've even contacted startups offering to do ANY work for free just for a little CV experience, no compensation whatsoever aside from the "yes he did work for us" and no bites.
How different would my life be if my father had not died 12 days before my 13th birthday? Would I have got a degree? Would I have made better choices in high school? Would I have a solid career or a prosperous company I founded? Would I have a partner and kids?
I don't know. What I do know is I need some luck, or the fates to cut me some slack, or the simulation to give me a power-up.
I just want to achieve a modicum of success, just enough that allows me to give others chances.
I’m a white male and without a degree I have this much trouble with making a decent wage and finding new employment, what is it like for a woman of color or someone with disabilities?! This is absurd! We can do better than this, we have to do better than this, we need to give people chances and let them prove themselves and not look for some scrap of paper that states their worth!
Seriously, if you’re in position to hire someone STOP BEING DRACONIAN. Some of the most successful, and innovative, people in the world are college dropouts for crying out loud. We’re dumping nearly 40 gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere every year, over farming, depleting water tables, creating breeding grounds for plagues of biblical proportions with ever-growing homeless camps and you’re worried about if I went to your alma mater or not so you can give me entry level work?!