FAQs

General Questions

Applying to Venture for America

The Selection Process

The Fellowship

 

General Questions

What is Venture for America?

Venture for America is a 2-year fellowship program to help you launch your career as an entrepreneur while making a social impact. We recruit, train, and place top recent graduates at startups in over a dozen cities including Baltimore, Detroit, New Orleans, and more with the hopes that Fellows will go on to build businesses, revitalize their cities, and ultimately, create jobs. Throughout your two years as a Fellow you’ll be part of a talented group of peers, receive ongoing support regarding your job and side projects, get connected with mentors and the VFA network, and be a member of the VFA family. After your two years in the program, you’ll then get access to capital and resources available exclusively to Fellows and alumni.

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How will VFA help me one day start my own company?

What better way to learn than through hands-on experience? Fellows not only gain invaluable operating experience, but they also experience and observe the ups and downs of a startup alongside the teams who are building them. The VFA network also provides access to potential co-founders, investors, and mentors– everything you need to build a strong foundation as an entrepreneur.

Once your Fellowship is over, you’ll have access to the VFA Seed Fund or Investment Council, which are designed to help VFA Alumni launch their companies by providing capital.

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What are the biggest advantages to becoming a VFA Fellow?

Below are just a few reasons we’ve heard our Fellows love VFA:

  1. Network. Your Fellow class will consist of exceptional people who become lifelong partners, advisors, and colleagues. Beyond gaining a great group of friends and colleagues in their cohort, many Fellows become connected to entrepreneurs and investors in their regions. A great network is one of the main reasons people go to business school or seek more well-defined paths. We’re confident that your VFA network will be full of high-character people you can lean on and look up to..
  2. Work experience. Fellows get the chance to gain the invaluable hands-on experience of building a business and seeing the ups and downs that come with being an entrepreneur. No matter their title, our Fellows push themselves to develop skills, solve problems, and grow as people and professionals
  3. Training and Mentorship. By giving you the chance to learn hands-on and continue to help you reach your skill and career goals, we hope to give Fellows the best of business school without the debt. Training Camp teaches hard and soft skills through a mix of real-life challenges, guest speakers, and valuable advice from entrepreneurs who have ‘been there, done that’.

You can learn more about the VFA experience here.
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What does VFA look for in a Fellow?

Self-starters, builders, creators, and people who have a history of excelling in a wide range of disciplines. All majors are considered, though computer science and engineering majors do have an advantage. Applicants with up to three years of professional experienced or advanced schooling are also welcome.

We recommend you check out “What we look for” or “Application & Admissions” for more info.

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In what cities does Venture for America currently place fellows?

Venture for America CitiesVenture for America currently has Fellows working in twelve cities: Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Las Vegas, Miami, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Providence, San Antonio, and St.Louis. Venture for America will continue to add more cities for 2015, including potentially Charlotte, Denver, Indianapolis, Nashville, Phoenix, and Pittsburgh.

Learn more about our cities here.

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How does VFA choose its cities?

VFA chooses cities with nascent but well-networked startup communities that could benefit from an influx of talent. Supportive institutions in the city, interest from quality companies, and cost of living are key factors.

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Can international students apply for the Fellowship?

Unfortunately, due to the hiring restrictions of many of our partner companies, Venture for America may only accept U.S. citizens, nationals, or legal permanent residents for admission into the program. Individuals who are in the United States under a student, work, or tourist visa are not eligible to join. Similarly, individuals who have refugee status but nothing indicating permanent resident alien status are not eligible to become Venture for America Fellows. Exceptions can be made for those who have independent work authorization through the summer of 2017.
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Do you only look for graduating college seniors?

Nope! We invite enterprising builders of all backgrounds with a range of experiences to apply. Those who have earned advanced degrees and working professionals that graduated in 2012 or later are encouraged to apply to the Fellowship if they earned their undergraduate degrees no earlier than 2012.

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Does it cost anything to become a VFA Fellow?

Nope! We are a nonprofit, and there is no cost to applicants or Fellows. Salaries are paid by your employer, and all training and programming costs are also covered, thanks to generous donors and partners.

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Will you help forbearance with any student loans I may have?

We’re so glad you asked! For the first time this year, we’re offering the VFA Opportunity Award for Loan Assistance, which is provided thanks to the generosity of the Leon Lowenstein Foundation. Fellows will be selected for the award on the basis of financial need and other criteria in an effort to make VFA an attractive opportunity for candidates of all backgrounds. For more information about the VFA Opportunity Award, you can check out the guidelines here: VFA Opportunity Award Guidelines.

Venture for America also refers Fellows to available programs that may help with loan payments. Income-Based Repayment (IBR) is a way to make your monthly federal student loan payments more manageable. IBR is available to federal student loan borrowers in both the Direct and Guaranteed (or FFEL) loan programs, and covers most types of federal loans made to students. To qualify for IBR, you must have a “partial financial hardship.” You have a partial financial hardship if the monthly amount you would be required to pay on your IBR-eligible loans under a Standard Repayment Plan with a 10-year repayment period is higher than the monthly amount you would be required to repay under IBR.

Student Startup Plan via IBR:
http://www.sba.gov/startupamerica/student-startup-plan

To see if you qualify, visit the IBR calculator:
http://studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/IBRCalc.jsp

IBR Q&A:
http://studentaid.ed.gov/students/attachments/siteresources/IBRQ&A_template_123109_FINAL.pdf

Helpful links on how to apply for IBR with your lender:
http://www.ibrinfo.org/how.vp.html

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What else should I know before applying?

We’re looking for individuals who embody our organization’’s values and standards. Before submitting the application, all applicants should read and agree to the following statements:

  1. I see my professional pursuits and my career as a moral choice that indicates my values.
  2. I appreciate those who assume personal risks in order to build a company or pursue a common good.
  3. I believe that actions are the proper measure of one’s accomplishments.
  4. I believe that creating opportunities for myself and others is an important aspect of professional success.
  5. I believe that one’s professional conduct is a reflection of personal character, and will always strive to act accordingly.

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Applying to Venture for America

Why are there four application deadlines?

Each deadline is a separate admissions cycle for the same class, so you need only to apply by one of them. For example, if you submit the online application by January 12th, you will be considered with everyone else in the January 12th group, and move on with the application process from there. The different deadlines exist because people find out about the program and are ready to apply at different times; we want to accommodate the early birds and the late comers!

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Is there an advantage to applying to an early round?

There is always an advantage to applying early! We suggest applying to the earliest deadline that suits your schedule, as those Fellows who join early on will get the chance to begin interacting with the Fellows and VFA Team. Fellows who apply for early deadlines will also begin interviewing with companies in the early spring before Fellows from later deadlines are accepted – but there will  be more than enough opportunities to go around.

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When is my application due?

Applications for the Class of 2015 are now open! The deadlines for our 2015 Fellowship are as follows:

  • September 3rd, 2014
  • October 6th, 2014
  • January 12th, 2015
  • March 2nd, 2015

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How does the application process work?

There are a few steps to the VFA application process:

  • Applicants complete an online application where they submit a resume, references, and essays, as well as personal and academic information.
  • Selected applicants will submit a short video and have a phone interview with a VFA team member or Fellow.
  • We invite the most promising applicants to a full-day, in-person Selection Day which includes problem solving activities, along with individual interviews.

Find out more about applying to VFA here.
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Do I need to submit an official transcript when I apply?

Nope! Unofficial transcripts work just fine to give us a sense of how challenging your course load is.

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Do you accept letters of recommendation?

No. We ask for contact info for references in our online application, and we’ll get in touch with them if we need more insight into your candidacy.

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The Selection Process

How many Fellows do you plan to accept for the 2015 fellowship?

We expect to accept 120-150 Fellows for the Class of 2015. That number is just an estimate though; with hundreds of companies eager to hire Fellows, the number of offers we extend is only limited by the quantity and caliber of applications we receive.

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What time zone is my interview in?

All interview times are in Eastern Standard Time (EST). Please be aware when scheduling phone interviews and other meetings with us.

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If I’m accepted, can I get an extension or deferral on my decision to join?

Due to the competitive nature of our program, we typically don’t offer extensions or deferrals on decisions.

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If I’’m not accepted in an early round can I apply again?

You may not reapply for later rounds in the same fellowship year, but you may reapply the following academic year for the next class.

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The Fellowship

Can I be a Fellow for only one year?

No. We select Fellows through a rigorous process and provide substantial benefits throughout the program. In most environments, it takes at least one year to be able to make a significant contribution, and two to begin to impact your company and city while developing into a stronger professional.

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What is the VFA Training Camp?

Training Camp takes place every summer at Brown University, from mid June through mid July. A fun and rigorous five weeks, Training Camp teaches you everything from basic coding to email etiquette, startup finance to marketing, and much more.

You’ll participate in trainings, seminars, and group challenges, as well as engaging in social and team activities. And you’ll also have the chance to meet startup founders, seasoned entrepreneurs, and VFA Board Members. Time to start building that network we keep talking about.

The goal is that come August, you’ll be armed with the skills, knowledge, and mindsets you need to hit the ground running and immediately add value to your company.

For more information, be sure to check out our Training Camp page.

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What kind of company will I work for?

Typically, Fellows work for early-stage companies in high-growth industries. Tech/internet is prevalent, with healthcare, marketing, venture capital, education, consumer apps, energy, and many more present among our partners. Our companies are typically fewer than 10 years old, with fewer than 50 full-time employees, but are evaluated most heavily on culture and opportunities available for Fellows.

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How does VFA choose its companies?

We have a team of people at VFA HQ who develop relationships with each company, usually through on-site visits and trusted referrals from local partners. We rely on these relationships and partners to help identify which companies would be good fits for a Fellow based on leadership, relative financial stability, and a high-potential working and learning environment.

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How much say do I have in which company and city I’m placed in?

Once you’re accepted to VFA, you’ll have the chance to browse all available opportunities. As long as you’re a good fit for the role based on your background, skills, and experience, you’ll be able to pitch yourself for the ones that look the most appealing. You’re ultimately responsible for driving your own interview process, so to the extent that you can make yourself a compelling candidate, any opportunity could be yours.

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What kind of role will I have in my company?

Fellows fill entry-level startup roles. The actual jobs, responsibilities, and skills of an entry-level employee can often evolve based on the company’’s changing needs and direction. Roles might include account management, content production, marketing, web development, engineering, data analysis, social media, sales and business development, operations, or some combination of these. No matter your job title, at many startups, team members end up working across a variety of projects and functions, and what you’re working on in the first several months may not be what you’re working on several months later.

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What happens if the company I’’m working for closes?

We’ve got your back! If a VFA startup fails, we’ll help you find another opportunity with a VFA partner.

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Are Fellows responsible for their own housing?

Yep! VFA does not provide housing, but we’ll help connect new Fellows to current Fellows and other contacts in our cities. In many cases, Fellows end up living together, but it’s up to you where you decide to live. You’ll be responsible for paying your own rent, utilities, and other living expenses.

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