Success is very far away, but perhaps we can make it.

I just read Steve Corona’s (CTO of Twitpic) post about how he created success by not going to college. I wouldn’t dare to leave it at “by not going to college” because it is far from that. It’s about how he felt that the huge cost of a degree was too much, and how the education required to achieve that degree was put to shame by what he could learn/achieve by himself.

So, he dropped out (actually, he failed with a GPA of 0.33) of college. What did he do? He cried, complained, and demanded success in return for zero effort. Nope. He put in all his effort to determine his own success; despite not having a degree.

I taught myself Rails and Linux. I freelanced on the side. I resold computers and camera lenses on Craigslist and eBay. Whatever it took.

He did web design, for 10 dollars an hour. Living in Vancouver, this kind of wage is pretty much only going to pay for rent. I’m sure it was more or less the same for him.

During his job search, he left college off his resume (of course), and he was offered a job at 45k, then another at 60k.  He believed (as did I), that you would only get minimum wage jobs without a college degree. 60k? Take it, right? Actually…

Unfortunately, I’m only able to consider offers over $100k at this time. If you’re in a position to negotiate, I’d love to talk more.

Crazy? Yea, definitely. Yet somehow, this company saw that he was valuable enough to settle midway.

I saw a lot of myself in that post. I got my first computer at the age of 14 (and it was a retired 8 year old corporate desktop). I decided to learn web development for fun around 15~16. I started doing freelance web development work fulltime almost 3 years ago. This was all because I was too poor to pay rent, and McDonald’s paying $6.25 per hour at the age of 16 was far from enough to support my family.

High school ended. I applied to 2 schools. The University of Victoria where I would pursue my life long dream of practising marital law, and my local technical college in case I suddenly changed my mind. I told myself that if I was unable to get a decent scholarship to UVic, I would go to college. I got a full scholarship to UVic, thanks to my GPA, community involvement, and the multiple reference letters from my teachers. That’s when reality and fear kicked in. If I moved from Vancouver to Victoria to attend UVic, how would I manage supporting the living costs of my family in Vancouver over so many years?

I did 1 year in college, and am currently doing co-op at a fairly sizable company and have been asked to stay for a bit longer. I am definitely planning to finish my diploma, but seeing how things have been so unpredictable, I cannot be sure. Besides working full-time and doing freelance work after hours, I am constantly educating myself in hopes that maybe, just maybe, I will find my success like Steve.

I have been asked by many older professionals why I am so motivated; working multiple jobs since 16 and trying so hard to quench my never-ending desire for knowledge. I haven’t been able to find an answer, and perhaps finding that answer is not at all important. Perhaps, for me, it’s about perseverance and the high I get from learning for myself and not for grades,  and of course, the amazing stories so many great people have to tell.

Thanks for sharing, Steve.