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It's not the lack of a degree that's making you underpaid...

Thanks, C. Dense email here, lots of things going on. A few thoughts --

1. You're not underpaid because you don't have a degree; you're underpaid because you've either (1) been unable to show others tangibly your ability to perform highly, (2) don't have the relevant contacts, connections, and/or hustle to look for a higher paid position (which is much easier with connections, but connections can be replaced with just hustling more, which generates connections), and/or (3) you're not good at negotiating.

I won't take one of those extreme positions and say degrees don't matter; they do. But companies don't care about their people's credentials anywhere near as much as they care about results. Even if 90% of companies in the particular space you wanted to work were very credential focused (and in programming, it's much lower than that at the best companies to work), you'd still be able to get a great position by just contacting enough people. 

So, ask yourself: how's your Github look? Do you write publicly? Do you have documented work you did a good job on? Do you regularly go out and meet people, and talk about the space you work in? Those are what get you paid more highly, not a piece of paper.

The Importance of Showing Off

On Gorilla Tactics

Showing off is super important. I don’t mean that in the hot-rod, flashy, “Look at my car and my super awesome muscles” way… though if I have to say so, my muscles ARE super awesome. What I mean is, it is very important to show your work to people. And not just show them, but PLAN to show them, and tell them about those plans so they can hold you accountable if you don’t.  

This point was driven home to me a few weeks ago when I showed off King Randall’s Party at the Made in Mass Developers Party, which occurs every year before PAX East. Hosted by some friendly faces at Microsoft, people treat it mostly as a party; great beer and food is served, and we are surrounded by our fellow developers. At the same time there are tons of tables where developers from MA can show off their games and provide entertainment for the party goes. It’s a real win-win type of event.  

In the months leading up to the party before it was confirmed that I would have a table, I had been working hard on KRP, or so I thought. After I got confirmation that I would have a table at the event, my development speed jumped tremendously. Just the thought that I would have hundreds of people looking at my game really drove me to produce higher quality work, faster. I've noticed this effect also occurs whenever I tell someone – a friend, family member, or someone else whose opinion I highly regard, that I’ll show them XYZ on such and such date.

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