Why I Dropped My Computer Science Specialization in Favour of Experience

My name is Eric Dolan, an Ontario based entrepreneur, consultant, blogger, student, and a lover of startups. Notably, this past summer I learned a great deal about what and how I want to pursue this life.

As background, I am currently pursuing a management degree while I was simultaneously working at a mobile startup and cofounding my own venture. What I learned from my experience clashed with what I was told in school, info sessions and general knowledge.

A massive shift is currently happening in the workplace and the entire structure is being redefined. I’m not saying that I know the entire structure—just what I have learned, heard and seen.

Having formerly been in a finance, administration and computer science specialization set, I decided to drop computer science. I did this for three reasons.

The first is that I will graduate a full year earlier. What I’ve heard repeatedly from people in industry is “Experience is more important.” Stressing that people doing things is much more valuable than a piece of paper saying someone can do things.

The second was the cost. Granted, Canadian university tuitions are a steal compared to the states, but what is the return? Every day, the alternatives, such as MOOCs, code bootcamps, only seem to be increasing in value.

Finally, I was learning more out of the classroom than in it. The lecture only format may work well for some, but for myself I feel there are better alternatives. From a personal viewpoint. I believe a mixture of interactive digital media is my best way to learn, and is a developing trend among education based startups and companies.

I am currently using a number of online resources, which still have a stigma despite being conducted by industry professionals and academic professors. They allow me to learn more efficiently than I ever have in university. All of these resources are online, either free or very reasonably priced, in almost any area of interest.

I have the same approach when considering post graduation alternatives. In prior years, outlets such as accelerators, bootcamps and entrepreneurial based programs were only for the top 1% of Canadians. However, with programs like Next 36, Hyperdrive and Bitmaker Labs, high return alternatives are now a reality for passionate Canadian entrepreneurs. These, along with companies such as Shopify and Hootsuite, are the routes that I am considering and pursuing as an entrepreneur and cofounder of my current venture.

My cofounders and I are putting our efforts into Alooksie, pronounced “a-look-see,” a mobile-based geo-social network aimed at connecting citizens to the people and community around them. Creating an idea has been an absolute grind, but the idea, process and realization of creating something of your own has been one of the best experiences of my life.

Canadian entrepreneurship is for the hungry, the foolish and the ones who want to change the world for the better in their own way. I believe that given the right materials and resources, the coming generation of Canadian entrepreneurs can become global players in the tech entrepreneurship space.