I failed my degree - I now earn £77000 4 years later - don't lose hope

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neverlosehope
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Hi All,

This post is going to be part informative, part humble brag, partly me getting something off of my chest that I have NEVER told anyone, but mostly me showing you that there's always hope.

I went to a very mediocre university, I studied computing with business, I passed the first year and got all 50% grades, I passed the second year with grades from 40% to 60%. I failed the final year, I handed in no coursework, I missed all of the exams and I only wrote 320 words of my planned 10,000 word dissertation.

Fast forward 4 years and I'm a manager at a very well known business consultancy firm earning £77,000 per year (excluding bonus which is up to 20%).

How did I do this? Experience and confidence.

When I was in my third, I took a year out to do a placement. The placement was with a very well known management consultancy. At the time, I was predicted to get a 3rd and they required a predicted 2:1. I got my tutor to write me an awesome letter of recommendation and I was very confident in my interviews plus I had done a significant amount of research and preparation before the 4 round interview process.

I was incredibly excited when I got the placement offer. The experience I gained in that one year set me up for life.

When I failed me degree (saw it coming a long way off), I became depressed, I could no longer take the job offer from the management consultancy as they required a 2:1. Luckily for me, I'd picked up some wicked software development skills over the previous few years, I used my experience at the management consultancy plus my software development skills to get myself a 30k job straight after failing my degree.

During the interview, my failed degree was never talked about even though I had is listed on my CV. It was listed as a Diploma of Higher Education (that's what you get when you only pass two years of your degree).

After being at this job for 2 years. I looked for a higher paying job and got a 46k offer at another software company. Again, they did not questions my education. They only cared about my experience.

Rinse and repeat this process until the current day. I applied for a managers job at a very well known consultancy. They accepted me based on my experience. This was also the first time my education was ever questioned. I explained that I did not complete my degree for various reasons (I did not lie). They mainly cared about my experience and what I could bring to the clients I would be working with.

I'm now a manager earning 77k.

It's funny when I look at other people from my Uni who actually got their degree. Most of them are still far more junior than me and earning a lot less than me.

This is the first time I have ever told anyone about failing my degree. Even my girlfriend (recently broken up) and parents don't know.

This is not supposed to be a 100% brag. It's supposed to be showing you that no matter how ****ed you are right now, you can recover if you are smart about it. Don't seek advice from the average person, that person can only give you average advice.

One more thing, I've been in debt (over 4k) twice and both times managed to pay it off (long before earning a good salary) but that's a story for another day.

I have never lied, I have never cheated, I am a smart guy and I'm actually very good at what I do (which is why I get paid well). My experience speaks for itself and my education has been explained to my employer (and countless recruiters). Experience and ability trump everything (well, most things).

Don't lose hope and.... ask me anything...

(please excuse any typos, I typed this on a tablet).
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Red Lightning
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Congratulations mate.
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s.a.u
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Serious congratulations!
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Axion
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" I failed the final year, I handed in no coursework, I missed all of the exams and I only wrote 320 words of my planned 10,000 word dissertation."

Why not actually sit the exams and do the work? It sounds like you lost hope to do well at university rather than at least putting in a good try

But well done anyway
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neverlosehope
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(Original post by Axion)
" I failed the final year, I handed in no coursework, I missed all of the exams and I only wrote 320 words of my planned 10,000 word dissertation."

Why not actually sit the exams and do the work? It sounds like you lost hope to do well at university rather than at least putting in a good try

But well done anyway
You're not wrong. I was I had done my coursework and sat the exams. I was just in a bad place at that time. I should have deferred and come back the following year. Not getting the degree has always bothered me.
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A5ko
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Entirely dependant on the type of job you go for, but I would always take the tried and tested (experienced) candidate, over the green degree holding n00b.
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redferry
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You're just lucky the job you wanted doesn't require a degree. If you'd wanted too be an engineer or an academic you'd be a bit screwed.
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username1229433
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This is very inspirational. Well done!!

Yeah, it is hard to achieve the best grade when you are at a negative stage, but you managed to pick yourself up at the end.

I hope you do go back to uni and gain a degree in the future. ^_^


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Aristotle's' Disciple
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Well done. Always inspiring to hear a rags to riches story every now and then. How fulfilling do you find your occupation? Admittedly you earn a fairly significant sum, but day to day are you content with your role? If you aren't feeling as fulfilled as you would like, I assume the pay cheque at the end of each month helps mitigate those emotions.

All serious questions, let me know. Thanks.
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neverlosehope
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(Original post by redferry)
You're just lucky the job you wanted doesn't require a degree. If you'd wanted too be an engineer or an academic you'd be a bit screwed.

Well, my job does required a degree. You are correct though, if I wanted to get some government controlled title (like engineer), I would not be able too. I challenge you to find people doing my job that don't have a degree though.
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neverlosehope
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(Original post by Aristotle's' Disciple)
Well done. Always inspiring to hear a rags to riches story every now and then. How fulfilling do you find your occupation? Admittedly you earn a fairly significant sum, but day to day are you content with your role? If you aren't feeling as fulfilled as you would like, I assume the pay cheque at the end of each month helps mitigate those emotions.

All serious questions, let me know. Thanks.


I love my job, I get to work with awesome clients across many industries. I'm less hands on now that I'm a manager (I run three teams, two are offshore) but I still love what I do. I have my sights set on a very senior role so may need to try and fix my lack of degree at some point.
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username1234032
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Wow well done. Even though you went through a rough patch you didn't let it put you down like most people would. You kept on going and thought about it smartly.
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Potally_Tissed
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(Original post by redferry)
You're just lucky the job you wanted doesn't require a degree. If you'd wanted too be an engineer or an academic you'd be a bit screwed.
Very much this. IT is all about experience.
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redferry
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(Original post by neverlosehope)
Well, my job does required a degree. You are correct though, if I wanted to get some government controlled title (like engineer), I would not be able too. I challenge you to find people doing my job that don't have a degree though.
Both people I know who failed their degrees do similar jobs to you.

As does my friend who got a 2:2 in physics (I know, not a fail, but generally seen as substandard)

These types of sectors seem to be taking on more and more people without degrees.


I mean a couple of the big 5 consultancies have just started recruiting from A level. I think well see more and more shift towards that as time goes by.
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Aristotle's' Disciple
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(Original post by neverlosehope)
I love my job, I get to work with awesome clients across many industries. I'm less hands on now that I'm a manager (I run three teams, two are offshore) but I still love what I do. I have my sights set on a very senior role so may need to try and fix my lack of degree at some point.
Awesome, I'm glad to hear that. I hope you continue to succeed and achieve your goals, good luck.
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username1234032
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Wow well done. Even though you went through a rough patch you didn't let it put you down like most people would. You kept on going and thought about it smartly.
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diggy
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Very inspirational, I'm gonna work harder looking for a one year placement than on my course itself the experience is invaluable

Can I ask how long you did each job for, it seems like a REALLY fast progression so 0 to 100 shizz, just because I too want to progress quickly in my field, I've never been afraid of doing it but I always thought I'd hold down my first job for two years then move on to something better, rinse and repeat and so on
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The_Internet
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(Original post by Potally_Tissed)
Very much this. IT is all about experience.
And contacts!
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Vestal Priestess
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(Original post by redferry)
You're just lucky the job you wanted doesn't require a degree. If you'd wanted too be an engineer or an academic you'd be a bit screwed.

you just can't let a guy win can you. Stfu
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neverlosehope
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(Original post by diggy)
Very inspirational, I'm gonna work harder looking for a one year placement than on my course itself the experience is invaluable

Can I ask how long you did each job for, it seems like a REALLY fast progression so 0 to 100 shizz, just because I too want to progress quickly in my field, I've never been afraid of doing it but I always thought I'd hold down my first job for two years then move on to something better, rinse and repeat and so on

100% yes to this!

Getting experience is the MOST important thing. Don't get me wrong, you should definitely get a 2:1 (or better). But even if you have a degree, what is going to make you stand out from the thousands of other graduates that year? Experience, that's what makes you stand out.

Doing a year long placement will accelerate your career growth in ways that you can't even imagine at this point in your career.

EDIT: You get bigger pay rises when you move companies rather than getting promoted internally. Make the most out of every experience you get so you can leverage that experience to improve yourself, and your pay, quickly. Make smart choices though, moving around too much can look bad and you could miss valuable experience. One size does not fit all.
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