A few weeks before I started college, my college adviser set me free. This is what she said:
“Remember, you are not going to school to validate your 20 years of leadership experience, you are going to school to add to it.”
Too often we are looking for credibility to speak for us, maybe even speak to us, to validate what we know. This search for affirmation is exhausting and completely counters our secure identity. I am guilty as charged.
Education and experience are both greatly valued, yet one without the other leaves you feeling a bit incomplete and disqualified. If education is King, then experience would be Queen; and one without the other is not possible for something new to be birthed.
I had made it through three rounds of interviews for a new position in a new career field. Each conversation was rich with sharing stories of my experience with projects that painted a picture of my qualifications for the job. But in the final interview, the one with the CEO, I saw him scanning over my resume. He was looking for something. I knew what he wanted to see, and I knew he was not going to find it.
He looked up, perplexed, and asked about my education.
It just didn’t make sense to him that I was able to talk about solutions to management challenges without the credentials to back up my ideas and philosophies. It was clear that my suggestions were not credible to him.
When I shared this with my best friend, who has a college degree, she laughed. “When I go to interviews they only want to hear about my experience, which is less than yours because of my years in school!”
I will admit that when I first decided I was going to college, at 40 years old, part of me was looking for a degree to endorse my experience. Today, I know that adding a college education is a beautiful integration to what I already know.
I know that I am capable of much more than this world has been willing to allow me to participate in. Going to college is my step towards walking in that freedom. My women’s march is every day walking onto that campus.
These daily movements will allow me to cross industry borders, climb over fences of bureaucracy, and lay down marble tiles for my own two feet to stand on.
It’s the difference between just applying for a job and hoping they pick you, or interviewing a corporation to see if they are a good fit for you.
Here’s to no longer striving, but saying yes to the stretching.