Which is Better – Education or Experience?

I was never very clear on what I really wanted to do for a career, so when I graduated college, I jumped with both feet into the real world. I didn't do any internships which led me to have no experience at all. I worked throughout college, but the field that I chose, I had no experience in.

I was told repeatedly that as long as I had a college degree that I would be okay and that was all that mattered. Yet, no one could predict the housing market crash and the failing economy happening the same year that I graduated from college. The competition of others looking for jobs was higher and a lot of those that I was up against while applying to different jobs had more experience, even some in the ranges of 20-30 years more experience than what I had.

During each interview, I was asked about my experience within that job field and I couldn't wrap my head around it. I had been in college for the last four to four and a half years, how was I supposed to have experience? Even if I was to have had an internship, I would have had no experience compared to the numerous people that were having to start over.

Fast forward a couple of years, I've had quite a bit of experience and it's been easier for me to get a job. Even currently, with me being an entrepreneur, all of my work that I acquire is because of my experience.

I'm not stating that for certain fields you do not need the education. I believe that education is more important, but for me, the experience is what has driven me and given me the opportunities that I've had.

Recently we traveled to Rome and as we were touring the Coliseum, the Vatican and other well-known places within the country, I remember thinking how we learned about some of this stuff in a history class. But by being there, experiencing it and actually seeing what we were learning about in school, made this experience so much better for me opposed to reading a textbook. If you think about it, college is about the same, you are going to school for four, six, eight years and you get a degree, this is only a small period of your life. While your degree may get you in the door, your experience is going to carry you a lot further.

Having those experiences and acquiring those skills is going to follow you through your career path more than having a college degree.

Within all of the jobs that I've applied for or careers I've had, I have always been asked about what I have actually done. How familiar am I with a certain program? How familiar I am with this process? No one has been interested in the degree that I have, they all want to know about my experience in the field that I am in and that is why I say that my experience has carried me a lot further and will continue to carry me a lot further.

I'm not stating that I do not educate myself today, for I consider myself to be a life-long learner. But I believe that being able to have the experiences, to teach those experiences to others or apply those experiences in other areas of your life, will be able to be applied much further.

Even with me recently paying off $70,000 in debt within a year, I think it is easy for me to give advice to others that are stuck in the debt cycle. Why? Because I've experienced it first-hand. I've worn the shoes of someone who was buried in debt and desperately needed to pay it off and now I'm on the other side, having paid all of it off. Having this experience means a lot more to myself and others that I have either helped or will help, opposed to me just going and reading a book about money and finances and attempting to tell people about it. I believe that it carries a lot more weight with me actually going through the process, living it and now applying what I've learned to teach and give my knowledge through this experience back to others.

How has your experience shaped your life?

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