A Meme Called ‘Participation Certificate’

Abhishek Ramakrishnan
3 min readJul 15, 2020


The subject of this article was not planned at all (so please go easy on the comments about the structure of this article) because I had far better stories to publish but several situations that came up in life made this so you can blame those if you love collecting ‘Participation Certificates’:

  1. I was watching Shark Tank and in an episode (in season 10, I guess), Mark Cuban accuses a guy wanting a participation certificate, for participating in this course called ‘life’
  2. Most of my classmates participating in workshops, webinars, industrial visits (of all things) ask for participation certificates
  3. I was asked to design an e-certificate for a webinar my staff was organizing and it was for the attendance of the participants

We live in a crazy world where someone’s presence needs a god damn award.

I’m not blaming today’s culture of motivation and the ‘good job!’ thing but this waste of resources is completely pointless.

You might be thinking: “You think you’re so perfect? How ‘bout we see your collection of certificates?

To tackle this response, I came up with an activity where I skim my certificate file and if the certificate even spells out ‘participation’, it goes to recycling. Out of 22 certificates, I managed to ‘recycle’ 16 certificates. That means, 3 out 4 certificates I own are a result of the participation of some event/course (I didn’t get my degree certificate yet,so….).

my participation certificates (the real deal) — courtesy of me and my phone

This is not good. This is sad.

For over 8 years of my life, I thought that those certificates might come in handy for my job interviews but guess what? You already guessed it right.

It took me quite a while and a lot of recruitment drives to understand the fact that every single person in this world only cares about the skill set you possess and not some stupid piece of cardboard (or a PDF) that says ‘tHanK yOu fOr yOuR gRaCiOuS pResEnCe’).

Next time you drop a certificate into your file, remember this — ‘Your knowledge and the skills you gained from an event/course outweighs a piece of cardboard that says: “thank you for coming”’.

Showcase what you learned from that course you took or that workshop you attended over displaying that shiny piece of cardboard (if they went big on a gloss finish).

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