Life After Dropping Out of College

My favorite probinsyana, Annabs of Suburbia, has written a wonderful guide on job hunting, an article that has inspired me to expound on it. Couple of weeks back, I was trying to write something about the UP Manila shitstorm but was too angry to finish it, but the gist of it was this: There is life after dropping out of college. I’ll not get into why people are forced to drop out, just thinking about it makes my blood pressure rise.

Anyway. So you’ve dropped out of college. Cue the dreaded question: What now? You have two options, a. find a job, or b. find a job. (Of course, this won’t apply to everybody since not all of us have to quit college because of financial difficulties, but I digress.) At any rate, finding something with which to support yourself is the next logical step.
Handicap, Schmandicap
First, remember that you are already at a disadvantage. The lack of a college diploma is a handicap with which you will have to contend. It will sit next to you at every other job interview and will poke at you incessantly while you’re filling out an application. BUT (there’s a big but in all of that) that handicap also makes you more persistent and relatively more street smart. Enter pointless anecdote:
In 2005, my friends had just finished college and they’ve asked me to be their Makati tour guide, so to speak. At the end of that day, I was the only one who walked out of a company’s doors with a job offer in hand. My friends were not by any chance idiots, it was only that I a. had work experience and b. knew how to use my skills to my advantage.
Therefore, the first thing you’ll need when Job Hunting Without a Diploma are skills. Sit down, get a pen and paper ready. What are your skills? List everything you ever received a “Best in” ribbon for. Debating skills can translate to good communication skills. Those Photoshop skills can translate into good design skills. A drafting class in high school translated to a draftsman’s job for me. Good English language skills got me a job in a call center then a video game website.
Next, you will need experience. This will come with time. Every little job you get adds to your experience, and subsequently, they all add to your skill set as well. I’ve been a tutor, a drug store clerk, a liquor store clerk, a data encoder, a draftsman, a tech support agent, a marketing agent, a creative writer, and a freelance writer. In between those are bouts of being a bum and looking for a job, of course. What sort of skills have I developed from teaching squalling children to staying at home and writing in my pajamas? A lot. Your job now can teach you a number of things you will have use for in the future, say, how to deal with people too drunk to count their money or how to find creative ways to teach a kid.
Experience will also help you “level up.” (Pro-tip: You don’t have to list all of your work experience in your resume. Sometimes, listing only the pertinent ones – pertinent to the company to which you are applying – saves time for you and the HR people. You don’t want to spend several uncomfortable minutes explaining why you left that company notorious for pushing out pornographic content, do you?) Working at a bad job or for a bad company can help you weed out the things you never want to do again. After working at a call center, I realized that I never wanted to do that ever again. The Universe, who for most of the time is a motherfucking bitch, will somehow help you find your place under the sun.
To Recap
So, handicap schmandicap, skills, and experience. There are several unquantifiable things you will need in your Job Hunting Kit, including 2 cups of diskarte, 3 cups of confidence (don’t go over, don’t go without), and a dash of luck. You will eventually develop a thick carapace to deal with rejection from assholes, but in the meantime, take a few tons of kakapalan ng mukha with you. Eventually, you will learn to shrug off comments and ads that discriminate against undergrads. Take my word for it, you don’t want to work there. Always be willing to learn and eventually you’d have leveled up enough that the piece of paper won’t matter – or at least you’d have amassed enough money to go back to school.