Gapper Series: Olivier Shares his Thoughts on Entrepreneurship

Most grade 12’s are presented with 3 options for Post-Secondary. University, College, or the Workplace. However, are these the only viable options for students? What about taking a gap year, and using this time to learn more about yourself, your values, your interests, and maybe even starting your own business?!


Listen to Olivier’s journey to taking a gap year, what he has been up to, and his entrepreneurial tips!

Deciding to pursue a Gap Year

Ever since Olivier was in grade 8, he planned on going to University. In high school, he was able to narrow down his career choice to business, specifically finance. The plan was to get involved with his high school community, achieve high grades and get into a top business school. From there, let his career in finance unravel! However, after some reflection, he was not sure if going to University was the best option for him. Olivier said, “I’m only 18 years old, there is really no reason to rush, it doesn’t hurt to take a year off to understand myself better and make the best choice for me”.


Gap Year Adventures

Oliver used his Gap Year to do the things he did not have time for in high school, this included:

  • Teaching himself computer science, specifically Python!

  • Initiating a few business ideas that are still early in the works.

  • Developing a stronger relationship with his family, like, being able to go to his brother’s basketball game.


He says, “the way I saw it, I had 10 years of education, and then another 4 years in high school, and then another 4 years in University, and then I am going to work for the next 40, I never actually saw where I would have the opportunity to go out and actually do things because then you have all of these new responsibilities”.


In addition, he talked about going out and trying new things and not being worried about what will happen, which is so unique to the youth experience. “So many are not experiencing this exciting time of their lives because they are funneled into their economic role (teacher, businessman, plumber). While this is not bad, the question is, are you living your life to the fullest? Are you living the type of life you want? These are questions people don’t ask themselves before pursuing education at a top school”.


Experience with Entrepreneurship

“For me, entrepreneurship is being more afraid to try than to fail”. During his gap year, Olivier took the leap and began working on his business ideas, which are still “early in the world”. He was able to share his experience with starting this process. There is so much learning and growth that takes place, not only are you learning about yourself but also about the industry. The best way to do this learning is by research, there are countless amazing resources and programs. Chances are someone has been through what you are doing and you can learn from their successes and mistakes. In addition, reading a lot of books, engaging in conversations with industry professionals, listening to podcasts, or watching youtube videos. “Everything can be learned, it just takes time, commitment, and practicing something over and over again”.


The Importance of Networking

Many overlook how big their network really is, and leveraging the network you have which can include your relatives, your peers, small businesses in your area. Initiating the conversation, asking them how they got started, how you should overcome those beginning hurdles. The truth is a lot of people want to help you, especially if you are genuine and authentic, moreover, you are young! You are able to impress them as a lot of them will see themselves in you. It is key to remember to not use people, building a meaningful and genuine relationship is best for both parties.


Challenges and Opportunities for Gappers

Olivier said that there were 2 main challenges he faced during his gap year.

  1. Socially Challenging: The obstacle of how do you go out and actually make friends, and the answer is to really put yourself out there. Go to different events, network with those who are also taking a gap year (something that CanGap helps you out with! Check out the Gap Year Gameplan and how we connect Gappers through FROSH week and monthly social events!).

  2. Social Stigma: A lot of people think poorly of those who choose to take a gap year. It sometimes feels like you are a hermit away from the world. However, it is important to remember your value and worth.


On the flip side, Gappers have so much freedom! There is so much time to learn about the things that interest you and spend time the way you want to. You are not constricted with class timings, you can schedule things that work for you. With that being said, it is important to check in with yourself and stay on task.


A Final Word from Olivier

In order to make the most out of your gap year, it is important to make a list of goals that you want to achieve, things you want to experience, places you want to explore, relationships you want to strengthen, and above all taking this time to learn more about yourself, your interests and values!


Taking a Gap Year is completely a viable option, and the best way to get things started is to get in touch with organizations like CanGap, which can help you have a fulfilling and successful year!


Connect with Olivier!

Instagram Handle: olivier_szczepaniak

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