1. Acquire knowledge through self-exploration
Have you heard of the School of Google? Today, you can virtually learn anything you want from doing a simple Google search or spending time reading. There are a variety of ways you can gain knowledge without going to college. Read up on industry journals, blogs, books and magazines. Start contributing to industry blogs and engaging in online forums. You can also take free classes from websites like Harvard Open Courses, Udemy, Coursera and Open Yale Courses.
2. Gain experience and build your portfolio
Your knowledge isn’t going to do you any good if you don’t apply it to your career. Invest your time in gaining as much experience as possible, and build an outstanding portfolio. To gain experience, think outside of the box. Don’t limit yourself to working odd jobs or volunteering your time. It’s important to get your feet wet in opportunities that will take you to the next step of your career. There are endless ways to gain valuable experience. Consider launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise funding for one of your creative projects or an educational endeavor. Schedule job shadows with industry professionals and attend conferences in your chosen field. You could even start a small business venture that could help you gain experience and build clientele. Whatever you choose, make sure your experience adds value and accomplishments to your portfolio.
3. Learn in-demand skills
Just because you aren’t in school doesn’t mean you can pick up in-demand skills. In fact, the majority of employers desire candidates who have a strong set of soft skills. According to CareerBuilder, the most popular soft skills employers look for in candidates include a strong work ethic, dependability, a positive attitude and the ability to work under pressure. The best way to master these soft skills is through experience. As you begin to develop soft skills, record any accomplishments that illustrate these skills: For example, to demonstrate your strong work ethic, explain to an employer about times you’ve gone above and beyond of what was expected from you or a time where you took on extra responsibilities. These accomplishment stories show employers your ability to succeed in the workplace.
4. Build a team of amazing mentors
One of the secrets to building a successful career is to assemble a team of mentors who will help you along your journey. Connect with people who are in the position in which you want to be, learn their secrets and follow their wisdom. As you search for mentors, think about the role you want each individual to play in your career. Do you need a mentor who has a decade of industry experience? Do you need a mentor who was once in your shoes? Asking these questions will help you identify the type of guidance you’ll need. Incredible mentors can be found anywhere. Connect with people by reaching out to professionals who work for companies you want to work for, get involved with industry organizations, network on Twitter and even talk to the people you run into at your local coffee shop.
5. Always pick yourself back up
Throughout your career, people will tell you’ll fail without a college degree. It’s up to you to hold yourself accountable for your success and prove them wrong with your achievements. There’s no doubt there will be low points in your career. To overcome this, you must have tenacity and passion to keep moving forward. When you’re feeling down, create a list of your accomplishments, positive experiences and goals you have for the future. By reflecting on positive experiences and creating a plan, you’ll remember why you chose your path in the first place.
6. Know your options
Even though you didn’t go to college, there are still a number of opportunities that will help you build a successful career path. In August, CareerBuilder revealed the best paying jobs for people with a high school diploma. These occupations include transportation, storage and distribution managers, gaming managers, real estate brokers, commercial pilots and postmasters. If you’re looking for a more creative career path, you can start a business, become a blogger, open a restaurant, work as a graphic designer or work as a freelance writer. For these professions, a strong portfolio of work will help show potential employers and clients what you’re capable of. Whatever your passions and goals are, find a path that fits your needs.