Last month at a meetup in Birmingham there was a discussion about who’d you hire given the choice. Someone who has experience in the industry or someone who’s been at College/University and gained qualifications.

The outcome of the discussion seemed to lean towards experience being much more important than education when viewing a CV. I should note this discussion was regarding the Web/iOS industry. This is a topic close to myself as I didn’t go into further education myself.

A bit about me…
I finished school and landed my first job at a small agency, mainly working on building WordPress sites. Most of the skills I use day to day have been self taught over the years and, more recently learning iOS Development by “doing it” rather than training, of sorts.

Why experience over education?
People with further education under their belt aren’t always taught the most up to date technologies, while those with experience are more likely to be clued up on current trends and technologies. They can hit the ground running without the need to “catch up”. It also means that they can be nurtured to improve other skills required for the job.

People with experience already have knowledge of the processes involved, while those education background need to be educated about the processes.

While no doubt going to College or University is an experience and teaches you about your chosen field and life skills it isn’t always the best way into the field. Companies would prefer to see what you’ve done. A list of links, apps or other things you’ve personally completed or had a hand in, rather than a piece of paper.

Learn by doing
Teaching yourself allows you to learn what you need to know rather than what people think you need to know for your career, which in most cases is unfortunately out of date.

This has been especially important for me going from basic sites to advanced WordPress sites and now iOS Development. Something that, if iOS was around when I left School I wouldn’t even think about doing’ simply because it was, at that point, “beyond me”.

Ultimately it’s passion. If you’re passionate about learning or completing a project, you’ll find a way to get it completed. You’ll then look back on it and realise you’ve learned all these new skills and it feels fantastic.

So what about startups specifically?
Makeuseof posted about Education vs. Experience in the startup community. Intrestingly they found that investors prefered founders that had experience over those that had been to University, not that it had been a hindrance to those that had been.

At Buffer we’re a nice mix of people who have gone onto further education and those who haven’t. We have those who have been to University and feel like they didn’t learn anything, but found the environment great and something that was enjoyed. And we have those who didn’t go to University who are glad they took the route they did to get where they are today.

Take this with a pinch of salt, if you feel education is the right route for you, go for it. If you feel you can learn “on-the-job” then get to work. Just make sure by the end of it you have something to show for it that will impress.