Looking Back and Looking Forward: Training Camp 2017 & The Start of Careers Working Towards a Better Tomorrow
By: Devron Martin, 2017 Summer Marketing Intern
VFA Founder, Andrew Yang, addressed the Fellows on the first day of Training Camp at Brown University, “The people in this room are going to be founders of companies, CEO’s of big enterprises, managers and leaders, political leaders, and awesome human beings. The human capital in this room can move mountains… you will see.”
What rose to fruition over the next five weeks, was evidence of just this potential. 182 fellows, 182 unique stories behind their drive, five unifying core values, and one nation-changing mission. In their words, “We are creative, passionate, open-minded, enterprising, enthusiastic, and smart.” Training camp aimed at fostering this talent and energy and harnessing it into something tactful and meaningful. Fellow Tom Krumins said, “Everyone here is going to come together and do phenomenal things. By the end of training camp, we are going to become a little bit wiser, a little bit stronger, and we are going to change the world.”
With this desire to come together as a force of change, Fellows filled their days engaging in lectures, challenging themselves through workshops, and gathering tools in a wide array of fields of expertise, all while building relationships with accomplished trainers, mentors, and each other. The diversity and holistic nature of training camp programming and engagement is what made the experience uniquely transformative.
Weekly challenges set a theme and intention for engaging in the lectures and workshops. Week one, for instance, centered around website development, and was comprised of trainings on UX/UI design principles with Jen Smith from AGI, coding basics and advanced training with Flatiron School of Design, and SEO & Analytics with Seer Interactive.
Throughout the five weeks Fellows participated in excel trainings, sales strategy trainings, and marketing/ branding workshops, while also developing some “softer” skills like communication tactics, how to be a good colleague, and how to approach your first week on the job. In tandem with these hard skilled courses were workshops such as Diversity, Inclusion & Allyship training with Translator, public speaking with Brown University professor Barbara Tannenbaum, and an inspiring talk by Coss Marte of ConBody.
This type of holistic engagement didn’t happen exclusively in programming. Beyond the lecture hall, Fellows continued to foster their strength and unity through self initiated social gatherings, after-hour sessions on topics of importance and interest, and small group workshops on skills they own and wished to offer up to their peers. It’s this genuine interest in sharing in and acknowledging individual interests and abilities that makes the VFA community so strong.
In the words of Yang, “VFA fellows are smart, talented, energetic, ambitious, charismatic, motivated, and believe in what they’re doing.” To paraphrase the VFA Credo, their career is a choice that indicates their values, value creation is how they measure achievement, and they will create opportunities for themselves and others.
Training Camp allowed fellows to unify under their shared desire to make a difference in the world, and gave them the tools they need to take up that responsibility.
“These next two years, as we grow as employees, managers, founders of startups, we’re going to face a whole lot of [challenges]. Embrace them, learn from them, grow from them, get stronger. I can’t think of a better group of people I want to face my [challenges] with than you guys.” – 2017 Fellow, Sean McCroskey
We want to wish the 2017ers a huge congratulations on everything gained and created through Training Camp and to embarking on this next career journey! We cannot wait to see all that you accomplish.