Fellow and Applicant FAQs

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

General Questions

Applying to Venture for America

The Selection Process

The Fellowship

 

General Questions

 

What is Venture for America?

Venture for America is a 2-year fellowship program to launch your career as an entrepreneur. We recruit, train, and place top recent graduates at start-ups in Baltimore, Detroit, New Orleans, and more…

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How will VFA help me one day start my own company?

What better way to learn than with hands-on experience? Fellows will gain invaluable operating experience, and also be able to observe the growth of a startup and the strategy of its executives from the inside. The VFA network also provides access to potential co-founders, investors, and mentors – everything one needs for a strong foundation!

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What are the biggest advantages to becoming a VFA Fellow?

There are three major advantages, among many others, to becoming a VFA Fellow:

  1. Network. The Fellow class consists of exceptional people who will be lifelong partners, advisors, and colleagues. Fellows are connected to leading entrepreneurs and investors in their regions. A great network is one of the main reasons people go to business school. Through VFA, yours is ready-made and much deeper.
  2. Work experience. Fellows gain invaluable hands-on experience of building a business from the ground up.
  3. Training and Mentorship. VFA’s educational component gives Fellows the best of business school without the school debt. Training Camp teaches hard skills through a mix of real-life challenges, inspiring guest speakers, and valuable advice.

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What does VFA look for in a Fellow?

Self-starters, builders, creators, and people who have a history of excelling in a wide range of disciplines. All majors are considered, though computer science and engineering majors have an advantage. Graduate school students are also welcome.

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In what cities does Venture for America currently place fellows?

Venture for America currently has Fellows from the Class of 2012 working in five cities: Cincinnati, Detroit, Las Vegas, New Orleans and Providence. For the Class of 2013, Venture for America plans to add Baltimore and Cleveland, with other potential expansion cities including Charlotte, New Haven, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Raleigh-Durham.

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How does VFA choose its cities?

VFA chooses cities with burgeoning, but well-networked startup communities that could benefit from an influx of talent. Supportive institutions in the city, interest from companies, and cost of living are also taken into consideration.

 

Can international students apply for the fellowship?

Unfortunately, due to the hiring restrictions of many of our partner companies, Venture for America may only accept US citizens, nationals, or legal permanent residents for admission into the program. Individuals who are in the United States under a student, work, or tourist visa are not eligible to become Venture for America Fellows. Similarly, individuals who have refugee status but nothing indicating permanent resident alien status are not eligible to become Venture for America Fellows.

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Do you only look for graduating college seniors?

No. Venture for America invites outstanding enterprise-builders of all backgrounds with a variety of experiences to apply. Graduate students and working professionals are encouraged to apply to the fellowship and will follow the same application process as all other applicants.

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How much does the program cost?

There is no cost to the applicant or Fellow. Fellow salaries are paid by the companies. All training and programming costs are also covered, thanks to generous funders and contributions.

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Does Venture for America help forbearance with any student loans I may have?

Venture for America refers Fellows to available programs that may help with loan payments. Income-Based Repayment (IBR) is a way to make your monthly federal student loan payments more manageable. IBR is available to federal student loan borrowers in both the Direct and Guaranteed (or FFEL) loan programs, and covers most types of federal loans made to students. To qualify for IBR, you must have a “partial financial hardship.” You have a partial financial hardship if the monthly amount you would be required to pay on your IBR-eligible loans under a Standard Repayment Plan with a 10-year repayment period is higher than the monthly amount you would be required to repay under IBR.

Student Startup Plan via IBR:
http://www.sba.gov/startupamerica/student-startup-plan

To see if you qualify, visit the IBR calculator:
http://studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/IBRCalc.jsp

IBR Q&A:
http://studentaid.ed.gov/students/attachments/siteresources/IBRQ&A_template_123109_FINAL.pdf

Helpful links on how to apply for IBR with your lender:
http://www.ibrinfo.org/how.vp.html

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What else should I know before applying?

Venture for America is looking for individuals who embody our organization’s values and standards. Before submitting the application, all applicants should read and agree to the following statements:

  1. I see my professional pursuits and my career as a moral choice that indicates my values.
  2. I appreciate those who assume personal risks in order to build a company or pursue a common good.
  3. I believe that actions are the proper measure of one’s accomplishments.
  4. I believe that creating opportunities for myself and others is an important aspect of professional success.
  5. I believe that one’s professional conduct is a reflection of personal character, and will always strive to act accordingly.

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Applying to Venture for America

 

Why are there three application deadlines?

Each deadline is a separate admissions cycle for the same class. You need only to apply by one of the three deadlines. For example, if you submit the online application by February 18th, you will be considered with everyone else in the February 18th group, and move on with the application process from there.

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Is there an advantage to applying to an early round?

There is always an advantage to applying early! We suggest applying to the earliest deadline that suits your schedule.

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When is my application due?

There are three different rounds where you may submit your application for consideration in the 2013 Fellowship. The first and second deadlines passed in October and December, with a final upcoming deadline on February 18, 2013. Please keep in mind that recommendations are optional.

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How does the application process work?

There are three parts to the VFA application process:

  • Applicants complete an online application where they submit a resume, references, and essays, as well as personal and academic information. Recommendations are optional.
  • Selected applicants participate in a 30-minute phone interview with a Venture for America representative.
  • We invite the most promising applicants to a full-day, in-person interview, which includes completing a problem-solving activity, participating in a group discussion, and interviewing one-on-one with a Venture for America representative.

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What is the application timeline for the final round?

The application process for round three is as follows:

  1. Applications due by February 18, 2013
  2. Phone interviews conducted between February 25th-March 8th, 2012
  3. Final round interviews conducted on the Round 3 Selection Day on Friday, March 22, 2013
  4. Offer letters sent out in the two weeks following selection day
  5. Accepted applicants must accept or reject offer within one week

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Do I need to submit an official transcript when I apply?

We understand that it is often times very difficult or impossible to upload an official college or graduate school transcript. In such instances, an unofficial transcript will be accepted.

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I would like to submit recommendations, but my recommenders are having trouble uploading them through the website. What should I do?

Once you have followed up with your recommenders and are sure that they cannot upload your recommendation because of a technical issue, you can have them send your recommendation as an attachment to apply@vfa.dylanschuster.com.

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Can I check online to see if my optional letters of recommendation have been submitted?

No. It is up to each individual applicant to follow up with his or her “recommenders” and make sure the letter of recommendations have been submitted.

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What should I do if I’ve already submitted my application but one of my recommendations is late?

Since recommendations are optional, as long as you’ve submitted your Venture for America application including resume and transcript by the deadline, you will still be considered. If you would like to submit recommendations, it is your responsibility to follow up with your references and make sure their letters of recommendation are submitted as soon as possible.

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The Selection Process

 

How many Fellows do you plan to accept for the 2013 fellowship?

We plan to accept 60-80 Fellows for the Class of 2013.

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What time zone is my interview in?

All interview times are in Eastern Standard Time (EST). Please be aware when scheduling phone interviews and other meetings with us.

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If I’m accepted to the fellowship, can I get an extension on my decision to join?

Due to the competitive nature of the Venture for America fellowship, there will not be any extensions offered on decisions.

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Can I defer my acceptance?

Due to the competitive nature of the Venture for America Fellowship, we do not permit deferrals.

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If I’m not accepted in an early round can I apply again?

You may not reapply for later rounds in the same fellowship year, but you may reapply the following academic year for the next class.

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The Fellowship

 

Can I be a Fellow for only one year?

No. Venture for America Fellows are selected through a rigorous process and receive substantial benefits throughout the program. In most environments, it takes at least 2 years to be able to make a significant contribution.

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What is the Fellow Training Camp next summer?

The Venture for America Fellow Training Camp is a five week training camp at Brown University, in which selected Fellows will learn everything from basic email etiquette, to Microsoft Office skills (Excel, PowerPoint, Word), to networking. A curriculum of relevant articles and readings will be assigned throughout the five weeks and will carry on into the rest of the two-year fellowship program.

While at the training institute, Fellows will partake in training activities, group challenges, and case studies, as well as social and team activities. They will get to meet start-up founders, seasoned entrepreneurs, and Venture for America Board Members. The goal at the end of the five weeks is to have a cohort of Fellows that are well-equipped to immediately add value to their host companies. Housing is provided in Brown University dormitories.

Camp will take place from mid June through mid July. Fellows will then head to their host cities immediately after camp and begin work one to two weeks later.

For more information, be sure to check out The Fellowship Experience page.

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What kind of company will I work for as a Venture for America Fellow?

Early-stage companies in high-growth industries. High-tech/internet is most prevalent, with healthcare, marketing, venture capital, education, energy, and many more present among our partners. VFA companies are typically less than 10 years old, with fewer than 50 full-time employees but demographics are less important than a place’s character.

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How does VFA choose its companies?

VFA develops relationships with each startup, usually through on-site visits and trusted referrals from our in-city partners. We rely on these relationships and partners to help identify which companies would be good fits for a Fellow based on quality leadership, relative financial stability, and a high-potential working and learning environment.

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How much say do I have in which company and city I am placed in?

All accepted Fellows may submit their preferences in terms of region, role and company type. We take these factors into consideration, along with the company’s needs and preferences, when making matches. Ultimately, Fellows interview at partner companies, so if you’re impressive and skilled enough, any available company could be yours! If you are from or went to school in a city, your chances of being placed there are much higher.

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What kind of role will I have in my company?

VFA Fellows fill entry-level roles at startups. The roles, responsibilities, and skills of an entry-level employee evolve constantly based on the company’s current strategy. Tasks include account management, content production, marketing, social media, sales and business development, operations, web development, engineering, data analysis, and some lab research. While your job may have a discrete title, at most startups one works across a variety of projects and functions.

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What happens if the company I’m working for closes?

If a VFA startup fails, VFA will help Fellows find a new placement at another partner company to complete the Fellowship.

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Are Fellows responsible for their own housing?

Venture for America will help and recommend appropriate housing for all of its Fellows in each city. We assume most of the Fellows will want to live together in the recommended group housing, but it is up to each individual as to where he or she decides to live. Fellows will be responsible for rent.

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