It has been more than a year since I graduated and started working full-time, but I still get people asking me why I made the decision to skip university. Among my circle of friends and colleagues, I’d say it has been an even divide between those who felt that it was a terrible choice as I would have to settle for low pay or slow career progression, and those who believed that it was a good option as the rich work experience would come in handy in an increasingly tight global workforce.
Both groups are right. Diploma holders are generally granted lower pay than their degree-holding counterparts, and it takes 1-2 years before we can match the starting pay of a university graduate. However, if diploma holders work hard and have a strong willingness to learn, we will not only match the pay of the latter, but also gain the ins and outs of running a particular business in a specific industry. And this ‘business lobang’ is something that I want to talk about.
I skipped university because honestly, I was hungry to learn more — but away from the usual school, short internship or overseas learning trip setting. They are all good, but I was admittedly impatient to delve right away into the school of hard knocks. For instance, I wanted to plan a long-term strategy for my company, watch it grow and see for myself the returns from it. I wanted to scrutinise a real, profit-making competitor and draft out a blueprint to outdo and outsmart it. There was a certain thrill — and risk — that came with joining the school of hard knocks for a few years, and I looked forward to it.
Time flew by in a blink. I am lucky and privileged enough to be able to get through the school of knocks so far, sitting through the various ‘lectures’ and ‘tutorials’. I have understood more about the ‘business lobang’, which includes working smart and around politics, and having a fine network of talents.
Watching a campaign I helped co-create yield a handsome revenue is satisfying. I work for an enterprise and such numbers are key to ensuring the jobs of others around me, for example. Of course, in the school of hard knocks, ‘good’ is never good enough. There will always be a group to tear the project apart and challenge you to do even better. This strives me to learn even more by attending external courses and seminars for my personal development.
I don’t bother questioning myself about whether I made the right decision or not. It has come to a point when I start to believe that these mental self-doubts are turning into invisible hands, pushing me away from my dreams and my destiny. Anyhow, the beauty of skipping university (or in fact, anything) is that you are never out of it forever. At any point in time, you can still visit it, God willing.
This article was republished from a Facebook post.