You know when you see something or someone and immediately recognize that he/she/it is something special? Have you ever met someone or done something that just inspires you? Have you ever come across something where you can just feel the potential oozing?
Venture for America is exactly that. At least it is for me.
I don’t remember exactly how or when I first found out about VFA but I know that once I did, I kept my eye on it. This is how I knew about the most recent Venture for America summer celebration. I scored early bird tickets and told my parents to consider it as a graduation present and an investment in the future.
The opportunity to be in the same room as some amazing people- Arianna Huffington, Jeff Weiner and Andrew Yang (just to name a few) and great people my age- all while supporting a great mission and vision was an incredible experience. The entrepreneurial spirit and enthusiasm was not only inspiring but contagious.
Even though I was headed over to the party alone, I was quite excited for a celebration of entrepreneurship to kick off what is sure to be a great summer.
Behold: the Venture For America logo in Baked by Melissa cupcakes!
Just when you thought that was impressive, VFA founder Andrew Yang took the stage to say a few words.
Venture for America, for those not familar with the organization, is a program that “recruits the best and brightest recent college graduates, provides them with training and mentorship, and places them at partner startups to help build those organizations.” Basically, VFA connects young people (like me) to emerging companies where they will not only be able to learn tremendously, but also create (long-term) value, build lasting relationships and grow as a person. During this two year program, the Fellows are given a crash course in startups then placed in a job at a startup in lower-cost cities, like Detroit, Providence, or New Orleans, where they’ll be paid between $32-38k per year (paid by the host company rather than the program).
I know I’ve personally met many people in New York who go into the predictable, safe trajectory of consulting and banking instead of working in places that matter more than investment banks. I always wondered: in banking, it’s all about high risk, high reward, why can’t they apply that in something like entrepreneurship? In short, the world has a lot of brilliant people doing “nonsense” contributing to a cycle that doesn’t create value. Talent needs to be distributed in all the right places for the both the person and business to reach maximum potential, don’t you think?
Especially in the age of entrepreneurs where millennials strive to look for a job that will not only push them professionally but also personally, Venture For America is an incredible opportunity. I would have applied for it myself had the timing been right. Sure, the salary is much higher in consulting/banking, but I think the personal fulfillment and endless opportunity in the VFA program is worth it. There is no better time than now to learn and explore every dimension of our work and life.
Best part is VFA believes:
- I see my professional pursuits and my career as a moral choice that indicates my values.
- I appreciate those who assume personal risks in order to build a company or pursue a common good.
- I believe that actions are the proper measure of one’s accomplishments.
- I believe that creating opportunities for myself and others is an important aspect of professional success.
- I believe that one’s professional conduct is a reflection of personal character, and will always strive to act accordingly.
You can bet I agree with 110% of that. I mean I do have a blog called in business and life… 🙂
One day, Yang hopes, the economy will be fueled by a new success path (see image below). He hopes to be able to reach the ambitious goal of creating 100,000 jobs by 2025.
Jeff Weiner also took the stage to point out that VFA is sustainable on all ends. The fellows get fulfillment and a learning opportunity of a lifetime (while getting paid for it), the companies get the fresh talent they otherwise would not have access to, businesses grow, etc: it’s all a win-win situation.Not convinced? Just check out the website to see the impressive list of people supporting their mission, or read blog posts from the team on huffington post. You can tell a lot about a team based on what they write about. You can also read from the perspective of Fellows here
Also check out what you missed by looking at the beautiful photos from the party, here
Interested in applying? Who wouldn’t be.
Applications for the Class of 2014 open August 1, 2013.
In the meantime, if you are thinking about applying read a message from Andrew Yang, Founder of Venture for America, here.
Even though the ticket price was enough to make me feel guilty, I don’t regret going. I admire and support the entrepreneurs who see the world for more than it actually is. The ones who take risk for the greater good. The people who not only want to change and build things, but actually do. I had the opportunity to meet a few of the Fellows and some members of the team and needless to say, I’m excited to see how Venture for America will continue to grow.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
― Margaret Mead
Oh and if you were wondering what the views from the IAC building (where the party was held) looks like in the daytime, here are a few photos from when I visited the vimeo offices.
“The best investment you can make is an investment in yourself. The more you learn, the more you’ll earn.” – Warren Buffett
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