Admissions Info

Thank you for your interest in becoming a Venture for America Fellow and joining the movement to build businesses and create jobs throughout the country.

WHO WE’’RE LOOKING FOR

Our application process is designed to assess candidates’ potential to add value to an early-stage company. While there are certain general qualities that speak to this potential (i.e., structured thinking, consistently high-level work product), there is no one background or profile that represents an “ideal” VFA Fellow.  Each may have a unique record of success and achievement, but we’re looking  for candidates who embody the following characteristics:

  • Intelligence
  • Character
  • Grit
  • Founder Potential
  • Ability to Contribute

Intelligence- All of our Fellows are smart cookies! Whether you’re an academic whiz, a techie genius, or an expert interpersonally, we want you. Startups need the sharpest people to quickly spot inefficiencies, identify new opportunities, notice patterns, and generally solve problems. So, if you’ve got a beautiful mind as well as the other qualities listed… you could be a fit!

Read about 2012 Fellow Tim Dingman, who taught himself fluid dynamics in order to add the most possible value to his company here.

Character- Here at VFA, we value integrity above all. Because we invest two years (and really, a lifetime) in our Fellows, it’s just as important for us to attract kindhearted, thoughtful people of impeccable moral fiber as it is to nab folks with outstanding programming or sales skills. If your definition of personal success includes benefitting others (and you have the other qualities listed)… you could be a fit!

Check out a feature on 2013 Fellow Stella Safari, who has pursued opportunities to educate and empower others in her job and in the community here.

Grit- Working at a startup is hard. Like, really, really hard. Definitely not for the faint of heart. Our Fellows dedicate themselves wholeheartedly to the success of their companies. Late nights at the office, occasional team friction, having to scrap a project at the last minute and start over, the need to learn new skills from scratch all on their own—it all comes with the territory.  If you don’t back down from a challenge, you see yourself thriving amidst uncertainty and pressure, (and you have the other qualities listed)…you could be a fit!

Read about 2012 Fellow Jake L’Ecuyer, who spent two years rising with the sun, living and breathing his company in order to accomplish things like creating an internship program more competitive than Google’s here.

Founder Potential- VFA is designed to launch recent grads’ careers as entrepreneurs, so it stands to reason that we’d want to recruit a class chock full of future company founders. Whether you’ve been hustling since grade school or have just started to think of yourself as a business builder, if you have visions of creating something of your own (and you have the other qualities listed)… you could be a fit!

Listen to 2012 Fellow Max Nussenbaum, a cofounder of Castle, an app that helps improve landlord-tenant communication, on  Fellow-led podcast “In Over Our Heads” here.

Ability to Contribute- The two-year Fellowship is something of an apprenticeship; before you can build a wildly successful company, employ a whole bunch of people, and help revitalize the economy, you’ll need to learn how it’s done. Rather than just watching and learning though, you’ll be a full-fledged member of the startup team you join. If you have a proven record of success, tangible, startup-relevant skills, and experiences in professional settings that suggest you could pull your weight on a small team that’s counting on you to contribute (and you have the other qualities listed)… you could be a fit!

Check out a day in the life of 2013 Fellow Clara Gustafson, who became a one-woman marketing department for ZEROFox, a cyber security company, here.

 

PREREQUISITES

At this time, we’re only able to consider candidates who

  • Are US Citizens or Permanent Residents
  • Will have earned their undergraduate degrees by June 2015
  • Graduated with their first undergraduate degree after June 2012
  • Earned a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher

US Citizens or Permanent Residents status- Most of our partner companies don’t have the resources (read: time and money) to go through the process of sponsoring a visa, so we require independent work authorization through August of 2017 for all applicants.

Undergraduate degree conferred by June 2015- Training Camp starts in June, and then the Fellowship continues with a full-time, two-year commitment at a the startup where you’re hired. If you have academic requirements beyond June 2015, please check back in next year for the 2016 Fellowship application cycle!

First undergraduate degree conferred after June 2012- Our Fellowship is specifically designed for recent graduates. Everything from the training and mentorship we offer to the particular jobs available at our partner companies is targeted to people fresh out of college; those with more than three years of professional experience or advanced schooling beyond undergrad would not find the program as valuable; so, for now, it’s (very) recent grads only! If you’re a bit further in your career, a program like Startup Institute could be a great alternative.

3.0 minimum GPA- We get it—entrepreneurs can be driven and highly intelligent but simply have better things to do than go to class. That being said, we have high expectations across the board for our Fellows. We think you can run your empire on the side and still scrape by with a B average.

 

HOW WE EVALUATE YOUR CANDIDACY

Initial online application- Broadly, we look at five categories when assessing whether you’d be right for the Fellowship. These categories, in order of importance, are experience, skills, academics, mission alignment, and writing.

Depending on your particular background/profile, we will adjust our focus and the weight we assign to each category. For example, if you’re an engineer who wants to use your technical abilities at work, we will prioritize skills and experience over writing abilities and academic history. You’ll also have the option to share a file or link to something you’ve created in the past that demonstrates the kindof kickass stuff you could do/make for a startup. Blog posts, business plans, videos of you presenting… choose anything that will help us understand the value you would bring to your company.

Video Submission- If your initial online application suggests that you could be a strong fit for the Fellowship, we’ll invite you to submit a brief video recording. The video allows us to see a bit of your personality and witness your real time critical thinking, creativity, pitching and communication skills. We’ll evaluate the content and structure of your responses, and we’ll also try and get a sense of who you are.

Phone Interview- Finally, the part when we get to interact! If you still seem like a potential Fellow-in-the-making after the Video and Work Product phase, we’ll invite you to schedule a conversation with a Fellow or member of Team VFA.  We’ll chat with you to get to know you better and dig deeper/follow up on the info you provided in the first two phases of the application. Just as important as us learning more about you is you asking questions of us! Make sure you put some thought into your ponderings and concerns to get the most out of this call.

Selection Day- The last thing we need before we can confidently say whether the Fellowship is right for you (and whether you’re right for it) is to meet you and see you in action. Selection Day is a full day of group activities and individual interviews. We pay close attention to your critical thinking/problem solving abilities, interpersonal acumen, character, and mission-alignment as you participate in the high-pressure, rigorous activities—the day is designed to be challenging, but we truly are rooting for you! You’re also rewarded with a few hours of open bar-fueled networking with the awesome candidates and judges at the end of the day.

 

TIMELINES

Online App Deadline

Media Submission Due Dates

Phone Interview Dates

Selection Day

9/3/14

9/6/14-9/12/14

9/7/14-9/15/14

9/26/14

10/6/14

10/9/14-10/15/14

10/10/14-10/18/14

11/14/14

1/12/15

1/15/15-1/21/15

1/16/15-1/24/15

2/20/15

3/2/15

3/5/15-3/11/15

3/6/15-3/14/15

4/3/15

 


Questions? Try reading over the FAQs. Still have questions? Feel free to contact us.