Fellowship Selection Events: Ditch Perfection, Gain Experience

The VFC Fellowship is a bridge from post-secondary education into the world of entrepreneurship for ambitious, recent grads in Canada. You can think of our Selection Events as the on-ramp to that bridge.

The process to get into this program is highly competitive. The Fellowship Program is intense: to get the most from what is offered, Fellows must prioritize the time and effort of self-discovery, community participation, live session attendance — not to mention a three-week, in-person summer training camp! Success requires vulnerability, trust, and a spirit of growth.

Here at Venture for Canada, we’re all about experiential learning: learn something; try it out; and reflect on the experience. 

And from Day 1, we apply this model to our application process. Applicants will learn, try, and reflect, regardless of the outcome. 

We’re breaking down some keys to success in our application process so that you can make the best of it. The goal? You gain insights and experience through each part of the process to accelerate your career and become a thriving leader (or founder!) in your community.

THE 3-STAGE APPLICATION

Applicants to the Fellowship Program face three stages of selection: submit an application form and a video response before the big event — quite literally called the Selection Event

The Application: we’re seeking alignment with our values, particularly authenticity, humility, and ambition. We’re also looking to ensure applicants understand that this program is an opportunity to learn and grow: not just to land a job (although, that’s a pretty great outcome!)

The Video: in part, a chance to make sure you’re not a robot — but more importantly, to understand how you choose to add more personality to your application. 

The Selection Event: in this four-hour virtual event, we’re observing participants as they face ambiguity in a complex group challenge — and along the way, you’ll bulk up your interview skills while networking with a handful of inspirational startups, businesses, and impact leaders — our volunteer judges!

The value of experiential or group interviews has long been recognized. That’s part of our logic here, too. Seeing candidates in action (instead of just talking about it) gives our team and the judges a much more accurate idea of how the finalist will approach a learning opportunity, take on new tasks, and cope with ambiguity: all key skills for success in their first role at a startup. 

In many ways, the process itself mimics that of our partner startups: a multi-stage application that challenges the candidate to articulate their goals and intentions and demonstrate their transferable skills.

THE SELECTION EVENT WORKSHOP

The Selection Event begins with a training workshop. 

We lead candidates through an exercise of self-discovery, pushing them to identify their strengths, and what they’re challenged by. This information is directly applicable to the job hunt, and to succeed in future interviews — not to mention that it forms the beginning of the professional development goals the successful Fellow will focus on for their time in the Fellowship.

We leverage insights from startups we’ve worked with for over eight years to collaboratively build an understanding of the skills required to excel in entrepreneurship. We then challenge finalists to use this understanding to be intentional about the strengths they offer their challenge groups.

THE SELECTION EVENT CHALLENGE

Finalists are then placed in “challenge groups,” and tasked to identify their goals, their roles, and collaborate toward a presentation to our judges. As they work collaboratively, those same judges observe their behaviours, pairing these observations with those of the presentation. Do you bring out the best in others? Do you listen as well as you give directions?

A score of how finalists show up in their groups + the presentation = the final score for each finalist.

WHAT WE’RE LOOKING FOR

So what are we exactly looking for?

We’re truly looking for intentionality every step of the way. There is no one definition of a successful entrepreneurial leader. 

Our team wants to know:

  1. How the Fellowship fits your personal and professional goals;
  2. That you’re passionate about dedicating a year to professional development — and testing yourself; and 
  3. How you decide to show up in a complex and unfamiliar situation (humble, curious, and open to learning sounds good… right?) 

Not required: a resume, previous startup work experience, exceptional public speaking skills, or business attire. 

We’re here to meet you where you’re at and to push you to develop entrepreneurial skills and mindset with a little help from exceptional entrepreneurial work environments.

We are often mistaken for a recruitment organization; for providing a service to help new grads get jobs. And we do that, absolutely. But it’s in those positions that the real magic begins: you take what you learned at school, add what you’re experiencing in the curriculum and community of the Fellowship, and apply it in a work environment.

All of our programs at VFC rely on Work Integrated Learning (WIL) models, matched with an entrepreneurial skills curriculum to have the greatest career acceleration impact for our participants.


ABOUT THE FELLOWSHIP: 

Since 2015, 374 graduates from across Canada have participated in our program landing jobs with startups and innovative small businesses. Our team works closely with each Fellow to offer customized support and timely professional development so that they gain the knowledge and confidence to lead more successful careers, starting a three-week immersive training Bootcamp in collaboration with the Queen’s Smith School of Business, and a connection to a job at a VFC partner startup.


Lateefa Farah is a content creator who has a passion for listening and sharing people's inspirational...