Is VFA Right For Me?

If you want to join a tight-knit community, create new opportunities for yourself and others, and build things with a supportive network behind you, VFA might be the right place for you.

What We Believe

Every Fellow brings different skills, experiences, and goals to the table. There is no checklist of traits that make a perfect applicant. But we do find that our Fellows find common ground in a shared set of principles.

Everything we do is guided by our credo, five beliefs that speak to our core values.  These are the ideas that we were founded on, that define our community, and that unite all of the Fellows, alumni, and team.

My career is a choice that indicates my values
There is no courage without risk
Value creation is how I measure achievement
I will create opportunity for myself and others
I will act with integrity in all things

What do these beliefs look like in practice? A strong, independent work ethic. Finding ways to thrive in the face of pressure and ambiguity. An emphasis on building things. Always working towards a greater goal.

If this sounds like the way you want to launch your career, VFA might be for you.

 

VFA is hard, but it’s definitely worth it. I wouldn't trade my experience for anything in the world.

– Ethan Carlson '12

Why Become a Fellow?

dashashaw_at_training_camp

Dasha Shaw ’16 at Training Camp

Community

VFA Fellows are exceptional people, and together form an incredibly strong community. Many Fellows become lifelong colleagues, co-founders, and friends—Fellows often feel that joining VFA helped them “find their people.”

Beyond the other Fellows, you’ll also have the opportunity to connect with community leaders, entrepreneurs, and investors in your region. We’re confident that your VFA network will be full of high-character people you can lean on and draw upon for years to come.

Work experience

Our Fellows have the opportunity to work with more experienced entrepreneurs and see first-hand the challenges and triumphs that come with building a business. No matter their title, our Fellows have the opportunity to develop skills, solve problems, and grow as people and professionals among a supportive, knowledgeable network.

Training and mentorship

At Training Camp and over the following two years, we prepare our Fellows for startup life by exposing them to a mix of real-life challenges, skill-building activities, guest speakers, and crucial advice from entrepreneurs who understand the landscape. And by giving Fellows access to our nationwide network of mentors, we hope to connect our Fellows with people invested in their success.

 

Resources to build things

We believe our Fellows have what it takes to found companies and projects that better their communities—but we know how hard it is to go it alone. That’s why we’ve created a range of resources to help them succeed. From a crowdfunding competition to an accelerator in Philadelphia just for Fellows, we give our aspiring founders the space, time, funding, and support to make their ideas a reality.

 

Commitment to Diversity

Venture for America believes that our Fellow class should reflect the diversity of US talent. Our Fellowship represents a unique opportunity for women and people of color to on-ramp into a career in technology and entrepreneurship, where they are woefully underrepresented.

We are committed to recruiting a diverse class of Fellows and supporting them through the two years of the fellowship and beyond.

What We Look For

Integrity Matters

We’re not just focused on professional growth or business savvy—our community values character, and we strive to help our Fellows become the kind of people who can make the right choices when things get hard. That’s why we care as much about an applicant’s desire to do good as we do about outstanding sales or coding skills.

If your definition of personal success includes the success of others, we want to meet you.

Accepting Challenges & Making Sacrifices

Every startup environment brings its own set of challenges. As a Fellow, you’ll dedicate yourself both to the success of your company and to your own development—as a professional and a person. That can mean late nights, occasional team friction, scrapping a project at the last minute then starting over from scratch, and learning new skills as you go. It can also mean learning to push yourself and grow in an imperfect environment, finding new ways to challenge yourself, and working to improve your company without much guidance.

If this sounds more exciting than alarming, that’s the attitude we’re looking for.

Believe in What We Do

We know you could get a startup job in San Francisco or New York. But we’re looking for people who value the challenge of creating opportunities where they count, over an easy or comfortable path.

Our Fellows are excited by the prospect of building new businesses in places like Baltimore, New Orleans, and Cleveland; becoming members of those communities; and becoming part of the movement to make these cities stronger.

Ready From Day One

How do we know you’ll be a valuable addition to a company? The things we look for include a proven record of success, some tangible, startup-relevant skills, and experiences that suggest you could pull your weight on a small team that’s counting on you.

Character

Integrity Matters

We’re not just focused on professional growth or business savvy—our community values character, and we strive to help our Fellows become the kind of people who can make the right choices when things get hard. That’s why we care as much about an applicant’s desire to do good as we do about outstanding sales or coding skills.

If your definition of personal success includes the success of others, we want to meet you.

Grit

Accepting Challenges & Making Sacrifices

Every startup environment brings its own set of challenges. As a Fellow, you’ll dedicate yourself both to the success of your company and to your own development—as a professional and a person. That can mean late nights, occasional team friction, scrapping a project at the last minute then starting over from scratch, and learning new skills as you go. It can also mean learning to push yourself and grow in an imperfect environment, finding new ways to challenge yourself, and working to improve your company without much guidance.

If this sounds more exciting than alarming, that’s the attitude we’re looking for.

Mission Alignment

Believe in What We Do

We know you could get a startup job in San Francisco or New York. But we’re looking for people who value the challenge of creating opportunities where they count, over an easy or comfortable path.

Our Fellows are excited by the prospect of building new businesses in places like Baltimore, New Orleans, and Cleveland; becoming members of those communities; and becoming part of the movement to make these cities stronger.

Startup Aptitude

Ready From Day One

How do we know you’ll be a valuable addition to a company? The things we look for include a proven record of success, some tangible, startup-relevant skills, and experiences that suggest you could pull your weight on a small team that’s counting on you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to be a programmer?

No! You don’t have to be a programmer or a business major to be a great Fellow—all kinds of skills can translate to success at a startup job, as long as you’re ready to hustle, try new things, and learn on the go. If you’ve been a leader on campus, gained skills at internships or jobs, and care about finding a career where you make a real impact day-to-day, you might be a great fit! (Don’t believe us? Browse the 2016 Fellows for proof.)

Is VFA the right move for me if I’m trying to change careers?

When it comes down to it, our fellowship is designed for recent grads (meaning graduating seniors, those a year or two into their careers, or grad students with a year or two of advanced schooling). Our training, mentorship, and job opportunities are targeted to those fresh out of college, so if you have three or more years of professional experience or advanced schooling, this might not be the best fit.

What if I have student loan debt?

In an effort to make the fellowship an attractive opportunity for candidates from all backgrounds, we offer the VFA Opportunity Award for Loan Assistance, made possible by the generosity of the Leon Lowenstein Foundation.

Fellows will be selected on the basis of financial need and other criteria provided. You may opt-in to apply for the award when you submit your fellowship application. Winners will be announced in June, before the beginning of Training Camp.

What are VFA’s core values?

If our credo resonates with you, there’s a good chance you’re a good fit for VFA.

Here’s what we believe in:

  1. My career is a choice that indicates my values
  2. There is no courage without risk
  3. Value creation is how I measure achievement
  4. I will create opportunity for myself and others
  5. I will act with integrity in all things
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