Seth Godin calls it the learning/doing gap, and I want to underscore it again.

Why do people “get a degree” then “get a job”? Because that’s what’s always been done. (*always meaning for the past few generations, though.)

A college undergrad asked me this the other day and I bit back a witty retort. She doesn’t know any better, she’s just trying her best. She‘s doing what society expects. Her parents saved up a college fund, ASU profits from it, and she’ll join the workforce completely unequipped for what companies actually need junior marketers to do these days.

I propose a new system:

Learn by doing. (This isn’t new.)

Learn by doing projects for existing companies. (This isn’t new either.)

Learn by doing projects for existing companies before they ask. (This is new-ish.)

It’s how people used to break into different careers—walk into the blacksmith shop, sweep the floors, and learn the trade.

Rather than taking the Formal Education Train, which drops you off at the end of the Job Application Line along with everyone else, you can take the Side door into any career you like.

You can get a career job this month by doing real projects for real companies you admire—not because they asked, but because you want to. Because you want to learn, and you don’t need permission to start learning on the Internet.