On the Job
Just like our Fellows, no two jobs are alike—but odds are, you’re going to work hard, your team is going to have high expectations, and sometimes, you won’t know what to do next. There will be days or weeks when your manager won’t have time to offer you much guidance, and you’ll find yourself picking up skills on the fly. This kind of environment will teach you to be proactive, ask the right questions, and always find a way to move your company forward—the same skills you’ll need to launch something of your own.
As an entry level employee on a small team, you’re going to be expected to do it all—and you’re also going to see the impact you have from the very beginning.
My friends in more traditional jobs spend their days making deliverables for a boss who gives that to another boss, and no one really feels connected to the value they're adding. For me, I see the value that I'm adding every day.– Max Haskin '15
Joining the startup community in your city
There’s a tight-knit, growing entrepreneurial community in every VFA city. You’re going to meet people who have invested their time, money, and energy into making the city a great place to live—by attracting talent, incentivizing businesses to move (or stay), and launching programs that serve local communities. If you want to make an impact or start something of your own outside of work, you can learn from the people who have been there, working to solve the problems they know well—the support you need is likely just a meeting or a few phone calls away.
Stay connected to the VFA community
As you get down to work in your city, you’ll have the support of the wider VFA network behind you. You’ll have access to our network of mentors to ask one-off questions or form longer relationships, and the VFA team will be there to talk you through challenging situations. You’ll also find that your fellow Fellows and alumni are an incredible resource, too.
I’ve grown a lot because there isn’t always someone to tell me what to do. I’ve learned how to take initiative and take responsibility head-on. I've also learned management skills that I never would have learned at the age of 22, if I wasn't thrown into the situation where I had to manage people.– Cathryn Woodruff '15
How does VFA choose its company partners?
Our dedicated Company Partnerships team develops relationships with each company, usually through on-site visits and referrals from local partners. We prioritize leadership, relative financial stability, and a high-potential working and learning environment. That said, these are startups, and things change quickly.
What kind of role will I have at 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 include account management, content production, marketing, web development, engineering, data analysis, social media management, sales and business development, operations, or often, some combination of these. No matter the job title, at many startups, team members end up working on a variety of projects and functions, and what Fellows work on in the first several months may not be what they’re working on several months later. When you’re interviewing for different roles, we’ll encourage you to ask the right questions to figure out what your job will be and opportunities for growth.
What type of salary can I expect?
Fellows can typically expect a starting salary of at least $38,000 per year, with some companies offering equity/options. Most Fellows will receive their first paycheck between late August and late September, depending on the payroll practices of their startup. From there, many Fellows earn raises once they prove themselves and add real value to their team—provided they’re excelling and the company is growing.
What happens if the startup I’m working for closes?
These are startups, and these things happen. It’s always difficult to recover from the loss of your company, and the transition is rarely smooth. Most Fellows in this situation have been able to find another job in a number of weeks with some hustle, networking, and a little help from VFA — but mostly hustle. It’s never quick or painless. If it happens to you, get ready to put your hard hat on and think to yourself, “At least I’m getting this experience while I’m young.” Our founder Andrew’s company failed and he swears it was one of the best, and most miserable, experiences of his life.
How long can I stay with my company?
There’s no established “end date” to your tenure with your employer, but you’re committing to two years at a VFA partner company in order to maintain your Fellowship status. If your company has grown and you’ve earned more responsibility, you may be well-served to stick around and continue to expand into a bigger role, as many of our alumni have done before.
Does VFA offer any student loan assistance?
Right now, we offer moderate loan assistance for a limited number of applicants. It’s not as much as we’d like, and increasing the amount of assistance we can offer is a major priority for us.
Thanks to the generosity of the Leon Lowenstein Foundation, VFA is pleased to offer the VFA Opportunity Award. Candidates are 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. The application to apply becomes available at the beginning of the Fellowship, prior to Training Camp in June. This will make it easier for at least a few people.
- For more information about the VFA Opportunity Award, you can check out the guidelines here: VFA Opportunity Award Guidelines.
VFA 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