Do not drop out.
Prior to the .bomb (the Dot-com bubble), companies were hiring left and right. There was such a shortage of people to hire, that companies were raiding universities for students who had not yet graduated.
People much like you are now.
These people were grabbed out of the universities, sometimes due to talent, sometimes because the company found an intern whose work they liked (that’s your current position), and sometimes to get the number of employees up, so that the VC’s would be happy the company was demonstrating that they were “getting to scale fast enough”.
These people, regardless of why they were plucked from their CS programs, were near universally referred to as “cubicle warmers”.
I see the term has not yet hit Wikipedia.
The idea is that these people were only good for raising the ambient temperature in a cubicle:
- They were not good for doing computer science, because they had not completed their degree.
- They were not good for doing programming, because they had insufficient real experience; they may have had an internship or two — like yourself — but while they may have had depth in a single subject, they had no breadth, meaning they were impossible to task outside their little specialty.
- They were not good for doing team programming; they may have had some programming experience, and be excellent self taught programmers, but there was no way for them to work on a team, since they lacked the necessary vocabulary.
- If they had done interning at the company where they eventually were hired, they ended up learning bad habits, and jargon specific to the shop they had worked in; in addition, they likely didn’t know algorithms well enough to discuss algorithmic complexity, and they didn’t know them well enough to know when something they’d “invented” had been invented before, and had a name, and had known pitfalls.
In short: they were there only to warm the cubicles and make the VC’s happy, and when the market began crashing in 2000, due to the fact that having a customer value of $20/customer, and having an acquisition cost per customer of $50 didn’t mean that you could overcome the $30 per customer deficit simply by “scaling up” … they became unemployable.
This is the road you are headed down.
Do not head down this road.
This is not the job you should be thinking about at this time, while you are deciding whether or not to take this offer.
The job you should be thinking about is the job after this one. Because there will be a job after this one. You need to ask yourself:
- If IBM buys this company, will I still be employed, or will they get rid of me because I don’t have a degree?
I have no idea if it’s an acquisition target for IBM, but if it’s an acquisition target for anyone, you should be asking the same question, and if it’s a startup you should be asking yourself what its exit strategy is, and if it falls on hard times, is it going to sell itself/merge with another company that has rules like this, etc.
- If it falls on hard times, or you break the bosses coffee mug, or for whatever reason, you find yourself unemployed at this company …who else will take you in, with just your experience at this company, and no degree?
- Will you ever get a promotion without a degree? If you’ll get promoted at this company without one …and you happen to survive a merger/acquisition/IPO-that-results-in-adult-management/VC-round-that-results-in-adult-management …what’s your career track look like then?
- Will you ever actually be head-hunted away from this company by another company? Or is this the end of the line for you?
You need to seriously consider these questions… and any others you can think about.
You’re saying that none of this is a problem for you.
You’re different. You’re special, or they wouldn’t want you, even without the degree. You’re future is golden. You’re a Millennial, dammit!
You think you aren’t going to end up, like the cubicle warmers of the .bomb, pushing their early to mid 40’s, complaining bitterly in every Slashdot thread they can hijack, that it’s unfair so many employers require a college degree, instead of letting autodidacts, and people who worked at startups in 1998.
They have so much experience on their resume, after all!
You won’t be one of those people who, instead of complaining, starts a “code bootcamp” company to bootstrap the next generation of similarly non-degreed autodidacts into shining, bright, future careers.
As Starbucks Barristas.
I invite you to do the following exercise.
Prepare your resume. Include your current experience at this company that wants to hire you. Get glowing letters of recommendation (this is something you should do at any internship anyway).
Now interview at no less than 10 companies.
If you can’t get a job offer for equal or more than the company that wants to hire you is offering from at least 3 of these companies (and that includes you discussing promotion path, raise schedules, whether not having your degree will hold you back in any way, and so on)…
Finish your degree.
If, on the other hand, you get higher (including the career path) offers from 3 or more of the companies… congratulations.
Decision time: do you take the offers, or do you take the offer from the company you are currently working at?
Or do you consider how much more they would be offering you, if you only had your degree?
Look. Even if you don’t want to take the advice in the first line…
Complete your associates degree.
This gets you something. It gets you the ability to go back to night school later, without having to repeat two hears of base work (because requirements will change in the future), but they have to accept your associates towards a bachelors.
At least make it possible to continue from where you left off, and do the remaining work in 2 years, instead of another 4.
Personally, I think leaving would be a mistake: but it’s ultimately your mistake to make.