VFA Supports Me

Originally published by Calum McLelland ’16 on the Leverege Blog.

Transitioning from academic work to real work has required a significant adjustment. Many of the differences between the classroom and the office are subtle, but they add up to an entirely different mindset and approach. It’s taken me four months at Leverege to feel like I’m beginning to hit my stride, but without the immense support that Venture for America (VFA) has given me, I know it would have taken much longer. Below I’ll share several ways in which VFA has been essential to my professional and personal growth.

Getting my job at Leverege

Before I dive into the ways VFA has supported me as I’ve worked at Leverege, it’s important to point out that without VFA, I wouldn’t be at Leverege in the first place.

I absolutely love working here. The team and culture are incredible, the industry is fascinating, and I’m learning so much every day. I knew that I wanted to work at a startup to gain the skills to start my own company one day, and Leverege couldn’t be more perfect.

But how would I have found this opportunity on my own? Small companies like Leverege (there are 9 of us) don’t have the budget to heavily recruit and promote themselves. If it wasn’t for VFA, there’s no way I would have come across Leverege, let alone had the chance to apply.

I am extremely grateful for VFA; they do the hard work of finding incredible opportunities at startups so us VFA fellows don’t have to.

Supporting me in my job at Leverege

In addition to getting me here, VFA has also been essential in helping me during these first few months. Working for a startup is hard. It means working in ambiguity and often having no idea of what to do or how to tackle a problem. This ambiguity can be great, it’s pushed me to figure things out on my own and grow immensely, but there have also been times when I’ve felt like I’ve hit a brick wall.

Fortunately, I’ve had VFA’s network there to rescue me.

VFA Connect is a web-portal with over 550 mentors and alumni that can be searched and contacted. About a month ago I was stumped by a particular problem in business development, so I searched through VFA Connect for mentors with experience in business development and in SaaS. Of the mentors I reached out to, every one of them responded and was incredibly helpful in providing advice and direction.

Beyond my job at Leverege

In addition to the professional support, I’ve also personally grown because of VFA. There are over 170 fellows in the 2016 VFA class like me, amazing individuals who make me want to be better. We’re there for each other when things are hard, providing needed advice or simply listening and understanding. We’re also there to congratulate when we succeed, whether that’s in our role at our company or in pursuing one of our side-projects.

Being surrounded by so many incredible peers has absolutely made me better as person, and it’s made me want to be better as a person.

Overall, I am so thankful for the opportunities and support. Whatever may happen, I’m confident that VFA will continue to be there for me.

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