A hand holding a paper receipt but the text on the receipt is that of a diploma.

Image by Sicilian-American artist, Roberto Farruggio.

Your Diploma is Just a Receipt

Creator May 8, 2023

That fancy piece of card stock that's hanging on your wall serves the same function as a receipt from CVS. Both are long in their respective ways. The diploma in time spent and the CVS receipt in length. Both tell you which location you went to. Both are physical records of a completed transaction.

I'm not some diploma-hating extremist looking to hate-on my Ivy League peers. I too hold a fancy printed piece of cardstock extolling the level of education I paid for.

In today's world, you have to stand out. Your body of work, a collection of pieces assembled in an organized structure, is what screams your capabilities. Whether it be the commits on your GitHub profile, your blog, your portfolio, or tonight's menu. Show your worth.

Early in my photography career, a fellow photographer shared:

"People will only hire you for the work you've done before."

You can’t expect to get hired for any work that you haven’t shown that you are capable of producing.

No one will hire me to shoot celebrity portraits if I have a portfolio full of birds and flowers.

Employers are looking to work with those with experience, but how does one even get the experience if no employer is willing to work with someone with no experience?

Ah yes, our old friend, “catch-22”, known more commonly as, “the chicken and the egg problem.”

Sure. Fine. Okay.

But that's a victim-mentality mindset and dear reader, we don’t play that game here. Time to take agency and responsibility into our own hands.

Build a body of work. A showcase of your talents. An album full of odes to your abilities.

How? You should experiment. You should try things. You should document it all and when you have something to showcase, share it with the world.

One by one like adding a single piece to a jigsaw puzzle, the more you put together, the more your portfolio sings, dances, and demonstrates what you are capable of.

Like a crater made by a meteor on the surface of the moon, your collection of work will do something a diploma never could.

It will make your mark.

Leaving an unforgettable impression to not only employers and collaborators but to your fellow inspired human beings.

Which says a lot more than being graduate No. 437 from The Sea of Mediocrity University.

While your diploma hangs on the wall and collects dust, your portfolio will be out in the world, judo-chopping its way to stand out like the brightest beacon in a thick fog.

The world doesn’t need more of the same, it needs what you bring into this world.

It needs more of you.

And if you just so happen to feel a little bitter or cold about my position, may I recommend this scarf to keep you warm?