Fellow and Applicant FAQs

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

General Questions

Applying to Venture for America

The Selection Process

The Fellowship

 

General Questions

What is Venture for America?

Venture for America is a two-year fellowship program to launch your career as an entrepreneur. We recruit, train, and place top recent graduates at start-ups in Baltimore, Detroit, New Orleans, and more….

↑ Top

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– they get a front seat to observing the growth of a startup alongside those who are building it. The VFA network also provides access to potential co-founders, investors, and mentors– everything one needs to build a strong foundation as an entrepreneur.

Once your Fellowship is over, there are opportunities to get capital to launch your company through the VFA Seed Fund or investment council, which are available to VFA Alumni.

↑ Top

What are the biggest advantages to becoming a VFA Fellow?

Below are just a few of the many advantages to becoming a VFA Fellow:

  1. Network. The Fellow class consists of exceptional people who will be lifelong partners, advisors, and colleagues. Fellows are connected to leading entrepreneurs and investors in their regions. A great network is one of the main reasons people go to business school. Through VFA, yours is ready-made and much deeper.
  2. Work experience. Fellows gain invaluable hands-on experience of building a business from the ground up.
  3. Training and Mentorship. VFA’’s educational component gives Fellows the best of business school without the school debt. Training Camp teaches hard skills through a mix of real-life challenges, inspiring guest speakers, and valuable advice.

↑ Top

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. Graduate school students are also welcome.

↑ Top

In what cities does Venture for America currently place fellows?

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 6.39.02 PM

Venture for America currently has Fellows from the Class of 2012 and 2013 working in eight cities: Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Providence. For the Class of 2014, Venture for America will add four new cities: Columbus, Miami, San Antonio, and St. Louis.

↑ Top

How does VFA choose its cities?

VFA chooses cities with burgeoning, but well-networked startup communities that could benefit from an influx of talent. Supportive institutions in the city, interest from companies, and cost of living are also taken into consideration.

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 become Venture for America Fellows. Similarly, individuals who have refugee status but nothing indicating permanent resident alien status are not eligible to become Venture for America Fellows.

↑ Top

Do you only look for graduating college seniors?

Nope! Venture for America invites outstanding enterprise-builders of all backgrounds with a variety of experiences to apply. As a general guideline, graduate students and working professionals that graduated in 2011 or later are encouraged to apply to the fellowship and will follow the same application process as all other applicants.

↑ Top

How much does the program cost?

There is no cost to the applicant or Fellow. Fellow salaries are paid by the companies. All training and programming costs are also covered, thanks to generous funders and contributions.

↑ Top

Does Venture for America 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

↑ Top

What else should I know before applying?

Venture for America is 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.

↑ Top

 

Applying to Venture for America

Why are there four application deadlines?

Each deadline is a separate admissions cycle for the same class. You need only to apply by one of the four deadlines. 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.

↑ Top

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 begin interviewing with companies in the early spring.

↑ Top

When is my application due?

Applications for the Class of 2014 are now closed.  We will begin taking applications for the Class of 2015 beginning August , 2015. The deadlines for our 2015 Fellowship are as follows:

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

↑ Top

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, unofficial transcript, and essays, as well as personal and academic information.
  • Selected applicants will submit a short video and have a phone interview with a VFA representative.
  • We invite the most promising applicants to a full-day, in-person interview, which includes problem solving activities, along with individual interviews.

↑ Top

Do I need to submit an official transcript when I apply?

We understand that it’s sometimes difficult to upload an official college or graduate school transcript. We’re happy to accept unofficial transcripts.

↑ Top

 

The Selection Process

How many Fellows do you plan to accept for the 2014 fellowship?

We plan to accept 80-100 Fellows for the Class of 2014.

↑ Top

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.

↑ Top

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

Due to the competitive nature of the Venture for America fellowship, there will not be any extensions or deferrals offered on decisions.

↑ Top

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.

↑ Top

 

The Fellowship

Can I be a Fellow for only one year?

No. Venture for America Fellows are selected through a rigorous process and receive substantial benefits throughout the program. In most environments, it takes at least years to be able to make a significant contribution.

↑ Top

What is the VFA Training Camp?

The VFA Fellow Training Camp is a five-week training camp at Brown University, where Fellows will learn everything from basic coding and email etiquette, to startup finance and marketing, to networking.

At Training Camp, Fellows partake in training activities, group challenges, and case studies, as well as social and team activities. They have the chance to meet start-up founders, seasoned entrepreneurs, and Venture for America Board Members. The goal at the end of the five weeks is for the Fellows to be ready to hit the ground running and immediately add value to their companies. Housing is provided in Brown University dorms.

Each summer, Training Camp will take place from mid June through mid July. Fellows then head to their cities to begin work throughout August.

For more information, be sure to check out The Fellowship Experience page.

↑ Top

What kind of company will I work for as a Venture for America Fellow?

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

↑ Top

How does VFA choose its companies?

VFA team members develop relationships with each startup, usually through on-site visits and trusted referrals from in-city partners. We rely on these relationships and partners to help identify which companies would be good fits for a Fellow based on quality leadership, relative financial stability, and a high-potential working and learning environment.

↑ Top

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

All accepted Fellows have the chance to pitch themselves for any available opportunity, as long as he or she is a good fit for the role. Since Fellows are ultimately responsible for driving their own interview process, if you fill the needs of the company, any available opportunity could be yours!

↑ Top

What kind of role will I have in my company?

VFA Fellows fill entry-level startup roles. The actual jobs, responsibilities, and skills of an entry-level employee evolve constantly based on the company’’s direction. Roles might include account management, content production, marketing, social media, sales and business development, operations, web development, engineering, data analysis, and research. Despite your job title, at most startups one works across a variety of projects and functions, and you’ll likely wear many hats day-to-day.

↑ Top

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

If a VFA startup fails, VFA will re-place the Fellow at another VFA Partner company.

↑ Top

Are Fellows responsible for their own housing?

Yes. VFA does not provide housing, but will help connect new Fellows to current Fellows and other contacts in our cities. In many cases, Fellows end up living together, but it is up to each individual as to where he or she decides to live. Fellows are responsible for paying rent.

↑ Top