Second Realm

Eric P. Rhodes, Artist


Why I Keep My Associate’s Degree on My Resume

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In general, my advice for keeping an associate’s degree on a resume goes like this:

If your AA or AS is in the same exact major as your bachelor’s (let’s say psychology), then including it on your resume seems redundant to me. However, if your associate’s is in a different major entirely (or even a related area with different names like early childhood education vs. psychology), it could be beneficial to showcase multiple areas of education. Plus, it adds another possible keyword for HR applicant tracking systems (ATS) and search engine optimization (SEO) for sites like LinkedIn.

My associate’s falls into the “different major” category (computer science vs. social science). But I have a deeper and more meaningful reason for keeping it on my resume and proudly hanging it on my wall.

How My Associate’s Degree Shaped My Life

Featuring my associate’s degree on my resume is more than just a demonstration of a diverse educational background and relevant skills. It represents a transformative journey from art school to a career in technology and design, highlighting a profound personal and professional evolution.

In 2000, when I returned to Hudson County Community College (HCCC) intending to take some art classes, I found myself at a crossroad due to the discontinuation of the art program. This moment of unexpected change was not just a setback but a pivotal point that steered my path forward. Advised by a counselor to try Web Design as a substitute, I made the impulsive yet fateful decision to major in Computer Science (but had no coding experience). This marked the beginning of an unexpected but rewarding trajectory in technology.

This degree not only equipped me with the fundamentals of computer programming but immersed me in the principles of web design and development. The hands-on experience gained through the curriculum was invaluable, laying a solid foundation for the technical skills I would continue to hone throughout my career.

Moreover, my participation in an experimental Interdisciplinary Learning Community at HCCC was a significant enhancement to my educational experience. This program resonated deeply with me, given my high school exposure to interdisciplinary studies, where art intersected with english, science, and math through the Palette Paradigm program. At HCCC, this approach expanded to include psychology, writing, and speech, enriching my understanding and appreciation of how interconnected our knowledge and skills can be across different domains.

This interdisciplinary approach not only shaped my technical skills but also nurtured a holistic perspective, enabling me to explore connections that are not immediately obvious. This perspective was instrumental as I navigated through various roles at prominent companies like MLB, HarperCollins, Google, and Twitter, and eventually led me to discover my passion for blending art and technology in 2019.

I have deliberately kept my Associate in Science (AS) in Computer Science on my resume, a testament to its enduring influence on my career path, even after returning to Rutgers to pursue a Bachelor of Science in labor studies. This degree isn’t just about academics; it’s a symbol of the resilience and adaptability that have been my companions on a journey filled with unconventional choices. It marks the beginning of a path that led me from traditional art school to a career in technology, showcasing that stepping into the unknown can indeed forge rewarding careers.

The AS encapsulates a pivotal moment where I dared to redefine my potential, standing as a testament to the power of embracing change and the unexpected. It’s a reminder that true growth often lies beyond the comfort zone, illustrating that our most meaningful achievements can stem from the most surprising of detours.


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