Posts tagged “venture for america

Why I Do What I Do

Forget website values; these are people values. 

On the first day of Venture for America‘s summer boot camp, we asked fellows to stand and speak for one minute on why they do what they do. This was before any proper introduction to staff or knowledge of what would take place during the 5 weeks of boot camp. Nonetheless, all 40 fellows boldly took a stab at their version of ‘why’.

Their responses were personal but mostly variations on a theme.  A large majority said they like to build. They’re here because they want their career to align with their values. Because they have been given opportunities and want to create opportunities for others.

This reflective exercise forced me to ponder my own answer. Instinctively, I do what I do because I am fascinated with startups and the people in that space. This notion of creating and building something from the ground up is deceivingly glamorous. Startup people are scrappy, creative, and could care less about cubicle politics. They’re going to change the world, and that’s pretty cool.

However, this incentive focuses strictly on the end product. It’s easy to forget that startup life in the here and now is tiring. While it’s good to keep the goal in mind, enjoying the process is equally, if not more, important. As Howard Roark in The Fountainhead said, “in order to get things done, you must love the doing, not the secondary consequences.” I first gravitated to Venture for America because I was excited by those consequences, the prospect of what Venture for America could and would become. I saw that it could be made into a force for good, an alternate option for college graduates who wanted to create something new, a powerful movement that would redefine success as more than just large paychecks and high status.

I do what I do because I know that my hard work today will enable the future I imagine. That future is a place where talent is channeled to worthwhile endeavors. But that’s not enough. The weight of the future only holds sway for however much of the present you can avoid.  In reality, I will only do what I do consistently if I love what I am doing NOW. There are so many obstacles that get in the way. If your primary motivation is some goal in the future, you won’t have the stamina to get over the present bumps. For me, these challenges involve setting a system where no system exists, working through application errors, responding to angry emails, troubleshooting technical mishaps, showing up at job fairs, talking to career services, and crafting VFA’s narrative – I must learn to love it all.

Thinking about the end goal keeps the motor running under stressful circumstances. But if you’re  going to be a person of consistent action, learning to love the process as much as the end goal is critical. You climb the mountain to see what awaits at the top, but also to embrace the challenge of getting there.

That is why I do what I do.


A New Job

Life is a book and tomorrow marks a new chapter. I’m starting a new job with Venture for America as their Recruiting and Social Media Associate, and I couldn’t be more excited.

rockin’ our awesome American Apparel Venture for America fitted tees!

I’m excited because the direct mission of Venture for America is simple:  recruit the best and brightest college grads to work for two years at emerging start-ups in lower-cost cities.  Commendable, right? But what ultimately draws me to the organization is its multiple layers of potential impact.

1. Companies in less-recognized communities who otherwise lack the resources for securing top talent, now receive exactly that. (The first class of VFA fellows is pretty impressive.)

2. Communities that fellows are based in benefit from an economic boost with the influx of talent.

3. Fellows become mobilized as entrepreneurs, learning how to create business opportunities for themselves and others. Ultimately they have the potential to launch their own companies and create jobs.

4. As a nation, we reap the benefits of a revitalized economy, more jobs, and a redefined version of success.

At its core, Venture for America is out to create jobs, and rightly so. I’ve said before- youth unemployment is the issue of our generation.  It’s a cause I get incredibly riled about. 54% of Americans between the ages of 18-24 are unemployed. A sense of dissatisfaction plagues our youth, mainly because we suffer from lack of ownership in what we do. Unless our country’s employment prospects are drastically improved, America will no longer be the passport to the good life.  People will flock to places that actually have jobs, like Asia.

We need to secure America’s enterprising talent NOW. My job with Venture for America will involve identifying those individuals and engaging with them via digital media.  More broadly, I am out to convince our nation’s best that small but high-potential companies can be viable post-graduate options, if not the best.

It’s crazy to think that just a few months ago I moved to New York City with high hopes, a few contacts, and a tepid bank account. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for. But thank goodness for instinct. It led me to this opportunity, this chance to work for a company whose mission resounds so strongly with my beliefs. VFA founder Andrew Yang touches on the mission in his well-written post about restoring the culture of achievement.  I am honored to join him and the rest of the VFA team, all of whom boast an impressive record of achievement and belief in the mission.

We will create 100,000 jobs (or more) by 2025. A lofty target, but I am up for the challenge.


A special thank you and shout-out to my friend Sarah Kaiser-Cross who was the first person to tell me about VFA, all the way from Turkey!