I like talking with people who’ve forged their own paths in their careers. I find it inspiring to learn from those who’ve chosen an alternative path. Recently, I had a chance to chat with Waris Hussain from Career Hackers. I asked Waris about his background and what it takes to forge your own career path without getting a college degree.
Here’s our chat:
Waris, thanks for agreeing to this interview. Can you tell me a little bit about your educational background?
Throughout school, I majored in Mathematics. I knew I didn’t want to go to college, but it’s not that common here in India, and I was getting major pushback from my parents. So I joined this Business school, which I dropped out of just after 5 months.
Why did you decide to drop out and go to a Praxis BootCamp instead of college?
I had heard about Praxis from a friend (Kovid Bhaduri), he is a Praxian as well. Hearing about the curriculum and the community from him got me excited, and these two were my favorite parts of Praxis as well: The Community and the “put you in the driver’s seat” curriculum.
What was your experience like at Praxis?
I loved my time at Praxis, I joined a couple of months before my official start date, and got to attend the weekly workshops before even officially starting! Once started, I had fun building projects, working together with batchmates, and figuring out the world of startups together!
Did you get any pushback from your family for not going to college and doing Praxis instead?
College has been the conventional route for decades now. This holds true in India as well. My parents were confused about how I’ll get a job without a degree, and even how I’ll get an education without any college. The pushback is real.
How did you deal with the pushback?
I had to explain to my parents in detail about how education is revolutionizing and changing at a rapid pace and how colleges are becoming more irrelevant with each passing day. It was difficult explaining, but once I started earning, once they started seeing that I’m not just talking bluff but there’s proof to what I’m saying, they believed me.
What did you do while at Praxis?
Any Praxian goes through three modules while in the BootCamp, and then shifts to the Placements. These three modules are well-designed for any beginner to understand how startups function and discover his/her place in any business.
The first module was discovering different areas of business. The second module was building projects and writing about what interests you, and the third module was dedicated to building just one big shiny project for your portfolio!
Once these three modules are complete, a Praxian is graduated to the Placements, where we work alongside our advisors to create a solid profile and then we start pitching to companies and sitting in interviews!
What are some of the major takeaways you learned from Praxis?
The biggest takeaway is to be your own credential. To establish a personal brand on the internet, and create a credential better than any degree would provide. Build projects, blogs, writeups, social media posts, and portfolio around what excites you!
Do you feel that you missed out by not going to college?
Not really. Many people think by not going to college you’d miss out on the fun, and even socializing. But I think I can do better “socializing” than sitting in a dorm room playing Call of Duty. I moved to a different city, where I learnt more about responsibilities than I would have if I went to college. I traveled, started with the city I was in, then went on to The Himalayas. Made friends, memories, and more!
What was your first job after Praxis?
My journey with Placements and jobs was a bit different than most Praxians. I worked part-time at a few different roles before going on full-time. I started with Evernest, a property management firm. I worked part-time, along with working freelance at different places.
What kind of projects did you work on to get hired?
In module 1, you explore different areas of business, so every Praxian has projects around Sales, Marketing, Customer Success, and Operations in the first module only. The second module is a bit more personalized to your own career and life. And the third module is completely customized for you. My portfolio has projects from all these modules. And some of my biggest projects are writing a handbook on productivity and building an app from scratch with no code.
What were/are your roles?
I was a User Experience Designer before joining Praxis. I had my feet in digital marketing, but that’s a space I wanted to grow in. By the time a Praxian moves to placements, he/she has to decide on a couple of different roles they would look for. For me, these were “Digital Product Designer” and “Marketing”
Where do you work now?
Right now I work at Career Hackers, where we are building the best one-stop-shop for job seekers!
What roles do you have in your current position?
One of my first blog posts was on how job titles don’t matter. Here at Career Hackers, I do most of the content creation and management, handling the website, email marketing, operations, etc. But to have a title on my LinkedIn, I am a “Marketing Specialist” at Career Hackers
How did you pitch yourself in order to get your current job?
I used a tool offered by Praxis: Crash. I made video pitches, along with a short and direct answer to why I should be hired. My primary call-to-action would be to schedule a call with me, and my second would be to look at my Talent Profile, which is basically my portfolio.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received regarding forging your own path in work or in life?
Be curious. People aren’t born with talents, they discover them by being curious in the beginning. Be curious about anything that gets even the slightest of your interest. You don’t have to close down opportunities just because it lies outside of your expertise!
Anything else you’d like people to know about you?
I’d like to appreciate Aaron for having me in this interview! If you have any queries or anything you want to talk with me about, you can email me (firstname.lastname@example.org), or can reach me out on LinkedIn or Instagram.