Is more diplomas the answer?

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I received an email this week from a women working in IT in corporate, who asked for advice about advancing her career. She was seriously contemplating getting yet another business degree to level up her career – she has to fight every step of the way in that environment.  

Here’s my reply to her, which I thought I’d share with you:

Hi dear,

It sounds like you are in a classic “woman in a male-dominated environment scenario“, with all the accompanying internal and external struggles. I am sorry to hear – it sucks getting so much pushback based on your gender. 

If I may be frank with you: more diplomas is not going to automatically mean more success. It’s a default option that a lot of people (women) revert to, hoping that it will give them the edge during interviews or stop that nagging little voice in their heads that tells them they’re not good enough.

Here’s the thing: you ARE good enough, just as you are! 

Haven’t you successfully done this job before (and probably more than your job description, let’s be real)? 

Aren’t you seeing people in the position that you’re after, who aren’t as good at it as you would be? 

I bet if you’re completely honest with yourself, you know you have all the skills you need to kick ass at whatever it is you want your next step to be. 

I am not saying education isn’t a good idea. It is: I am a massive geek and try to read at least two books a week. That’s not because I feel that learning will make me more worthy somehow. I just do it because I am wildly interested in the subjects they cover. And I am always engaged in some course or coaching; I have invested close to EUR35K in the last couple of years on developing myself that way. Again: that is because I want to truly learn those skills / that mindset that that support provided, not because I feel I need to show I have those skills.   

What I am trying to say is this: beyond – or: instead of – getting more degrees, please focus at least also on working on your self-confidence and your negotiation competence so you can actually leverage everything that you can already do and know!

Hartelijke groet, wies 

If you recognise this knee-jerk “must get more diplomas!” in order to prove you’re ready for a career pivot or upgrade – let me know. I dare say you probably really, really don’t, and an investment in your communication skills would be much more effective and efficient.

Let’s discuss and I will be honest either way what I think makes the most sense for you. 


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