Putting Education to Work - at a Startup
Andrew Albert, ’16
Andrew completed his undergraduate degree at Loyola University New Orleans with a strong desire to affect social change. He surveyed his options—business school, law school, medical school, and graduate school (he didn’t know about VFA at the time!)—and believed that going to grad school was the best bet for someone who is socially-minded. Andrew thought he had it all figured out. He would complete a master’s program at The London School of Economics in Political Science, where he would start out in academia, author a book, and then finally fulfill his dream to start a think tank that would change the world.
Time is of the essence and I realized that I needed to make a huge switch in my career path if I wanted to achieve my goals.
A Change of Plans
Within a year, and facing the prospect of beginning a PhD program, Andrew realized that his well-thought-out plan was going to take him on a longer road than he had imagined. While he was eager to make an impact quickly, Andrew’s advisors told him that he should expect to commit 20 to 30 years of grinding and paying dues before he could even consider building something of his own. Andrew wasn’t willing to wait 30 years to put his education to work. It was time to consider other options.
If you told me five years ago that I would be in the position I am in now and that I would have the job I have now, I would say ‘no way’. Having a 20-30 year plan did more harm than good because I wasn’t able to see something coming towards me at 100mph.
Returning to His Hometown
A native of New Orleans, Andrew was determined to do something to give back to his community—he just didn’t know where to start. During a late night Google search for startups in NOLA, Andrew stumbled upon VFA and thought it might be the right fit. The startup scene in New Orleans is tight knit, and as soon as Andrew started talking to his contacts in the community, he could tell that VFA had a huge footprint in the New Orleans ecosystem. He was confident that VFA was the right next move. Veering off his original path, Andrew took the plunge and applied to the Fellowship, receiving a spot in the 2016 class!
His current plan? Not to have one.
Andrew’s master’s program gave him the chance to learn how to approach problems in a unique way. He brought this knowledge to Training Camp where he worked collaboratively with Fellows from all different backgrounds. The diversity of skill sets and experiences in his Training Camp challenge group has prepared him for the type of environment he will experience at startups. New Orleans is lucky to have him back!