“I am fighting against people who feel paying $100k plus for an education is justified.”
In a world of Ivies and top-notch universities, where students are in a constant rat race to take underwhelming classes and pay hefty fees for what is supposed to be a basic human right, Jonaed Iqbal made his mark. Ironically, he founded NoDegree while pursuing his graduate studies at Columbia University.
Starting a project like NoDegree wasn’t a walk in the park for Jonaed, though. He knew that to help those without , he’d have to work and save to invest in his idea. He worked tirelessly for four years and saved up enough to accomplish this goal. Then in 2018, he cashed out all his years of hard work and, as they say, there was no looking back.
Jonaed managed the founding stage of NoDegree as a one-man army. He learned everything, from marketing his project on social media to search engine optimization, on the go. He then officially established it with his savings and three partners.
From a small initiative, NoDegree has evolved to a trusted platform for career advice and counselling on LinkedIn. The most recent resource is the NoDegree podcast, which involves interviewing people without college degrees who have achieved huge success in their careers.
About the Company
NoDegree helps those who do not possess degrees but have the perseverance and determination to find meaningful lives and race towards a better future. They provide career guidance resources like resume writing and interview coaching. The goal is to help people level up their careers. NoDegree also streams content, writes blogs, and hosts podcasts on various platforms that people can listen to, free of cost.
NoDegree is also a recruiting company, but they do it much differently than others. They take time to know their candidates first and allow employers to post jobs on their website.
Overcoming the Obstacles
Jonaed’s leadership is commendable. He believes in always creating, and always learning. When asked about his source of motivation, he said “I hate it when qualified people are denied opportunity or looked down upon because they don’t have a piece of paper that probably couldn’t accurately represent them in the first place.” This speaks a lot about his aim for the greater good, and that he believes the job must go to the most deserving candidate, which isn’t always the one with the degree.
Jonaed has faced many challenges throughout his journey. He is trying to challenge large institutions with years of expertise and a name attached to them. He is shaking not just rigid beliefs but mindsets, ways of life, and all who feel that it is necessary to spend large amounts of money on a degree. He is fighting employers who have an exhaustive list of degree requirements in their job postings. He is fighting the difference between those whose education stopped at a degree and those who are determined life-long learners. NoDegree advocates for the latter.
Changes in the Industry
The academic industry is ever-changing. A lot of tech companies now do not require college degrees to get recruited. However, there is a lot that they still have to combat, because at the end of the day, companies and organizations are overflowed with people from top-ranked universities. So those without degrees are definitely at a disadvantage. Most companies do not even conduct interviews if the candidate doesn’t meet their academic qualification.
Achievements and Future Goals
NoDegree has held a plethora of workshops to help those without college degrees understand how they can set themselves apart from others. They have successfully helped more than 100 people land interviews at several well-known companies. Even amidst COVID-19, there’s no stopping NoDegree’s momentum. They have held virtual career fairs with speakers from companies like Tesla, Microsoft, Google, Etsy, just to name a few.
But it doesn’t end there, Jonaed’s bigger plan for the future is to compete with institutions of higher learning. He wants NoDegree to become so successful that colleges actually have to lower their tuition fees or increase what they have to offer.
Advice to Budding Entrepreneurs
“Read, learn as much as you can, network, and get a mentor. I am where I am today because of the things I have learned from other people. So many people have connected me with the right people and that has allowed me to grow. I make sure to help those around me as much as I can and as a result, people help me. I will get to where I want to in the future because of the information and help I get from people I probably have not met yet.”
Jonaed Iqbal is a true inspiration. His story shows that if you have a goal, with perseverance, nothing can stop you.