Posts tagged “youth unemployment

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.

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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!

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Adding Value

We’ve all heard the start-up narrative. Bootstrapped college drop-outs work out of a garage, build fast, get cash, strike it rich, and save the world. Being part of a start-up is nothing short of being a rock star, or at least from what you see on Twitter. In all seriousness, though, start-up fever is taking center stage and very deserving of it. After all, some of the most well-known and innovative companies like Apple, Starbucks, and Google began as venture-backed start-ups. It is truly exciting to wonder what next ambitious company will emerge from the pool of hungry talent looking to change the game.  However, as is often the case with mainstream media, these subjects are being oversimplified into easily digestible, slightly misleading themes. It is important to distinguish between hype and reality as well as short-term trends and long-term sustainability, lest we are misled into believing that trendy start-ups are a band-aid solution to our economic woes.

 The crucial issue here is job creation. Youth unemployment is inexcusably high. Data from the Economic Policy Institute show that the millennial unemployment rate stands just above 16 percent. Prolonged unemployment has a deleterious effect on the lifelong career prospects of young workers, which affects our entire economy. This is why we must focus on placing our most talented youth in high-impact positions, positions that don’t merely employ but also provide valuable hands-on business experience so they can learn to build sustainable companies that can potentially grow and become larger ones, thereby creating jobs for others.  The thing with many ‘hot’ start-ups, trendy as they are, is that a majority will fizzle out.  What results is boom and bust, not a net gain of jobs.  Our focus should be tailored to small companies with gradual but long-term growth in industries with the potential to enhance American competitiveness and job creation. At a certain point, how many more online media platforms and content-sharing mechanisms do we need? Of course, if done well, these in and of themselves are worthwhile innovations. But don’t dismiss the slow ascension of less glitzy industries like biotech, materials science, and education technology.  The jobs lie here not just for now, but for years to come, once larger enterprises are formed. 

Any start-up seeking long-term growth needs to ensure that they hire employees eager to work for the right reasons. It is a certain type of person who can handle the start-up mindset. There are fewer resources and greater obstacles. You probably won’t strike it rich and you won’t necessarily be a rock star in the Hollywood sense. But if you define yourself by added value and the irreplaceable nature of your work, then you are sure to be an asset. Furthermore, you will be critical to saving America’s future. And by any definition, that’s a rock star.