TED Conversations

Juliette LaMontagne

Founder & Managing Director, Breaker


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What are the advantages/disadvantages of learning models that exist outside of traditional educational institutions?

With the growing number of alternative learning pathways and opportunities to better serve the needs of individual students, what's working best? And what can we learn from the failures and tensions? Where and how have the models in the margins effectively disrupted the status quo?

I'll add to the conversation my current initiative, Breaker - driving alternative learning and social innovation by mobilizing interdisciplinary teams of young creative collaborators to design product solutions to global challenges.

This Live Conversation will start on Feb. 15, 2012, 1:00pm EST/ 10:00am PST


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  • Feb 15 2012: I've done both and what I can tell you is that no matter how good you are at something if you don't have a college degree there are companies that won't hire you. College doesn't guarantee a good employee. I've had companies like Arthur Andersen who would only hire me to work as a contractor (they loved my work) but wouldn't hire me as an employee because I didn't have a college degree; the stupid thing is that I was doing web design work for them and there was no degree in web design back then in the early days of the web.
    • Feb 15 2012: Four names: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Larry Ellison. They wouldn't have been hired by Arthur Andersen either. Don't settle keeping looking, there are companies that will hire you.
      • Feb 15 2012: totally agree with you on these names and that they didn't have degrees. But don't forget that one, Bill Gates, had tremendous social capital backing him. He came from highly educated parents and a fantastically well appointed high school computer program, even back then. I think those things greatly contributed to his success - which most people do not have.
        And no, these folks wouldn't be hired by Arthur Andersen, but none of them would have wanted to be either. The key is to find what you want to do and look at your path, (and background) and line things up to help get you there. In some fields a degree is key, (whether because of training or just because of tradittion). in others, not so much.
      • Feb 15 2012: Thanks. I didn't settle and I worked remotely both nationally and internationally, but at times I found this frustrating to just plain downright silly. I even did work for one of the VPs of Arthur Andersen, a blow your socks off presentation that even impressed a fellow VP but that was just their naive policy. I just hope this is something that is waning in the work place and that the quality of work and individual can deliver is becoming more of a priority than a degree.
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      Feb 15 2012: From what I've experienced of the start-up scene in NYC, at least, the degree is waning in importance.

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