September 17, 2020

All About VFA’s Fellowship: Your Pressing Questions Answered

If you’ve been thinking of becoming a startup leader or entrepreneur capable of positively impacting your community or another, the aspiration is in reach with Venture For America! Our two-year Fellowship gives you the chance to work a full-time salaried job at a startup in one of our fourteen cities while growing professionally with other Fellows.
Essentially, it’s a two-year crash course on what it’s like to build and run a business. From figuring out the ins and outs of marketing campaigns and customer service, to getting a behind the scenes look at the number crunching that keeps a business afloat.
This prospect may excite you, but it also comes with a host of questions. As Jacob mentioned in the video above, his colleagues from the Talent Team are here to answer some of them so you can feel confident when applying.
What are some of the top qualities that you look for in prospective candidates and how can they prepare?

Vanessa Mancias, Talent Operations Manager

Vanessa Mancias, our Talent Operations Manager, ensures our selection process goes smoothly and says that it boils down to a number of qualities that include:

  • Resilience and optimism: “Startups are very risky and often fail. You will hear ‘no’ many more times before you hear ‘yes’.” 
  • Locus of control: “Because startups are made up of small teams, you may have a lot of ownership in your role. Having an internal locus of control means that you hold yourself accountable for your work, your mistakes (and your wins!).” 
  • Comfort with ambiguity: “Startups are fast-changing unstructured environments and it’s important that you are comfortable with the uncertainty this environment can bring to your role and work.” 
  • Ability to work on a team: “Working at a small company means more opportunities to work closely together with others. The ability to do this well is critical for a startup’s success.” 

To prepare, think about concrete examples of when you’ve exemplified the qualities listed above, and be ready to write and speak about them. In addition, check out our application toolkits for each step of our process to ensure your success.

Joel Vazquez, Diversity and Inclusion Recruitment Manager

What’s the typical Fellow salary?
“In 2019, the median salary data for the Class of 2019 was $45,000 and when comparing alumni (ages 24 to 30), the median was$75,000,” shares Joel Vazquez, our Diversity and Inclusion Recruitment Manager, who helps diversify our applicant pool “VFA requires all Company Partners to compensate Fellows a minimum of $38,000 in addition to health insurance or a stipend for health insurance.”

Does Venture For America place Fellows into startups? How do Fellows get jobs?
Winson Law is our Senior Talent Manager and plays a critical role in getting Fellows onboarded and up to speed for their Fellowship journey. He shares that “Venture For America does not place Fellows into startups. Instead, rather than assign you to a city or role, VFA hosts what’s called the Match process each spring. Fellows log into a private, online job platform where they can apply to opportunities at more than 100 companies across our 14 cities.” 
What do Fellows do after their Fellowship at VFA?
“Many Fellows choose their own path after VFA,” says Joel. “Approximately 44% become a leader within the startup community and continue growing within their own organizations or join others in a leadership role (i.e. COO, senior project manager). Another 15% to 20% start their own organizations and companies and use resources that VFA provides to build their own business. Other Fellows often go to graduate school or even join a larger organization (i.e. Google, Amazon).”
Winson Law, Senior Talent Manager

What kinds of jobs and industries do your Company Partners have and represent? How does VFA choose its Company Partners?
Winson shares the top job roles are in operations and project management, sales and business development, and account management; and the top industries are software, health, and education. 
VFA chooses Company Partners by gauging a few criteria:. 

  • Quality of the leadership: What is the company’s reputation in the local startup ecosystem? How connected are they to VFA’s mission and values? 
  • Quality of the role: Is it a good match for the experiences and skills a recent grad has? 
  • Manager experience: Have they managed someone before? Are they skilled in a particular area and could provide mentorship in that area?
  • Organizational culture and employee development: Do they have a clear commitment to and outcomes in diversity and inclusion? Do they support internal employee development, mentorship and learning opportunities? 
  • Financial health: Would they be able to pay our Fellows? For how long?

Still interested in learning more? Check out our website for helpful guidance on applying and other information like application deadlines.  You can also view previous webinar recordings on topics like salary and jobs.

Posted in: Inside VFA