September 24

My Life as A New Fellow: Jad Hamdan


I’m Jad and I’m glad you’re here! 😄

I’m an information systems and global supply chain graduate from Wayne State University who grew up in the Detroit-Metro area (Shout out to Motown!). Let’s talk about life as a new Fellow!!


After witnessing the challenges the 2020 Class had while searching for roles during the pandemic, I, along with many of my fellow Fellows, was a little nervous about what opportunities were available and if I’d find a good match! 😬

I knew my number one priority going into Match was finding the best opportunity, regardless of industry or city. For me, that meant a company with less than 15 people and direct mentorship from a founder or senior leader. However, the mental strength to follow through with such a priority caught me off-guard. The courage to decline roles you’d do well in to look for jobs you’re about 40% confident in, can be a bit counter-intuitive. But hey, “There is no courage without risk.” 💪

After an extensive interview process, and a lot of awkward moments, I accepted an offer at an eight person, remote-first, Fellow-Founded, software company working directly under the CEO. Exactly what I was looking for! As with many startups, the crew at Gather tailor-made a role they believed I would be a good fit for and would best benefit the organization’s growth in the People Ops space.

Getting Situated!

Even though our company is remote-first, the founders wanted us to be a part of a similar Cleveland community they were a part of during their Fellowship. So we were asked to move to Cleveland. This honestly was the toughest part for me, as much as I tried to be city-agnostic. Have you heard about the Cleveland Balloonfest or the Cuyahoga River Fires? If not, I highly recommend looking into them. These historical events and the “beef” between Detroit and Cleveland was the only knowledge I had of the city. On top of it all, I had arguably the worst shawarma sandwich I’ve ever eaten in Cleveland. 🤮

However, upon arriving in Cleveland, we were welcomed by the fourth largest VFA community in the nation. The Cleveland Fellows organized welcome buddies for everyone, set up “CoffeeGos” for us to meet the older Fellows, and provided recommendations for places to eat, play, and learn. The community really did a great job at making us all feel welcome and has been present throughout our entire introduction to the city. Two Fellow Founders and VFA Alumni even hosted a networking event to introduce us to the Cleveland startup community during our Welcome Weekend. 😊

What’s Ahead!

Overall, Cleveland still doesn’t have as good of shawarmas as Detroit, it is what it is 🤷‍♂️, but it does have a lot to offer! Like a great Fellow community, a growing entrepreneurship ecosystem, one of the largest theatre districts in the U.S. and many opportunities to help the city develop. I’m super excited to learn directly from the Gather founders, work with an awesome team (Shout out to Ari ‘21, Emily ‘21, Alex ‘16, Brooks ‘16, and John ‘16!), and spend some more time with the amazing people that are part of the 2020 and 2021 VFA Classes.

Posted in: Fellows, Inside VFA