Virtual Training Camp Diaries: Jane Klaus

On a Zoom call of more than 200 fellows at our Training Camp orientation, Julia Kortberg’s bright smile and enthusiastic demeanor lit up the room as I was sitting in Columbus, Ohio. Jad, one of the interns for the VFA Team was blasting some hype music to wake us up from our Sunday 3 p.m. slump. Through a barrage of messages in our Zoom chat, one from another VFA team member caught my eye – “Spoiler Alert: Virtual Training Camp is going to be awesome.” So far, she’s definitely been right!

Though running a program that’s normally in-person completely virtually is a challenge, it’s clear the VFA Team has gone above and beyond to ensure 2020 Fellows still have the quintessential Training Camp experience. Week 1 was chock-full of speakers, socials, and spirit. Here are a few things that stood out to me:

24 Hour Website Challenge

In a partnership with Rebrand Cities, a Detroit-based organization dedicated to putting small businesses online, our entire cohort split into about 40 teams of five to partake in a 24 hour sprint to create a website for a real client. My team was paired with Chene Street Grocers, a Detroit-based company who aims to provide wholesome, local food and a gathering space to their community. After learning everything we could about the company and how to use WordPress, our team presented our final product. In the end, our team was chosen as one of the “winning” websites by VFA, but nothing beat seeing the excitement on the founder Vanessa’s face as she saw her new website for the first time.

Credos

Training Camp has also been very focused on VFA’s credos, five beliefs that speak to VFA’s core values. They are:

My career is a choice that indicates my values
There is no courage without risk
Value creation is how I measure achievement
I will create opportunity for myself and others
I will act with integrity in all things

These credo statements have been integrated into everything we’ve done at Training Camp, from Fellows sharing stories related to the credos before every meeting and our 200+ Fellows being split into five “Credo Houses,” each representing one of the beliefs. This focus has inspired me to reflect on why these credos are important to me and the reasons that I joined VFA in the first place.

Match

Many Fellows, like myself, were still going through the Match process (finding a job with one of VFA’s Company Partners) when training camp began. This week, I got the great news that I’ve finally been matched! I’ll be spending the next two years of my fellowship working as a software developer for CampusESP, a Philly-based EdTech startup. It was so exciting to get the news that they offered me the job, and even better that I got to share the news with all of my new Fellow friends. Since meeting the Fellows, I’m confident that this smart, talented bunch will all find their perfect match soon too!

Overall, this week has been awesome. I’m so impressed with my Fellow class and the VFA Team. In our opening address from Amy Nelson, VFA’s CEO, she said we should “be the fuel that adds to the fire already burning in VFA cities.” It’s clear that the 2020 Fellows are ready to do just that.

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