Fellowship Selection Events: Ditch Perfection, Gain Experience

Selection Events for the Fellowship Program


Look at VFC’s Fellowship Program as the bridge from postsecondary education into the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Canada. It’s for ambitious, recent grads who are hungry to learn.

That’s right: learn. You may have expected “work hard,” “innovate,” or “add value to growing startups across Canada.” Fellows do all that. But first and foremost, their journey is about life-long learning.

The learning is rich at our notable Selection Events, which are a major part of the admissions process. 

Here we’re talking about some keys to success at our 2023 Selection Events so folks can take the best shot at landing a  spot in the Fellowship: and, just maybe, make a connection to an idea (or a person!) who can unlock their entrepreneurial potential.

Ps. What we’re not looking at includes an extensive resume; previous startup experience, exceptional public speaking skills; or business attire. Save the suit and tie for another day.


In a four-hour virtual event, we observe participants as they face ambiguity in a complex group challenge — and along the way, bulk up their interview skills while networking with a handful of inspirational startup, business, and impact leaders — our volunteer judges!


The Selection Event begins with a live workshop by our in-house training team. Definitely put on an active listening hat during this portion of the Selection Event; the Zoom chat is also a brilliant place to share some thoughts without disrupting the flow of the live training session. There may even be an opportunity to unmute and shine, but this section of the event is much more about self-reflection and active listening. 


Candidates will face ambiguity of new teammates and a high-level startup challenge – with the clock ticking toward their share back in front of our volunteer judges! They’ll collaborate while judges observe how they work as individuals and together. Then, Judges score the candidates’ work time and their resulting share back, giving us a final score.

So what do we want to see?

The value of experiential or group interviews in candidate selection 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 considers an opportunity to learn; how they take on new tasks; work with others; and cope with ambiguity: all key skills for success in their first role at a startup.

So here are some tips:

  • We want to see individuals who are eager for new information, including others’ perspectives.
  • We want to see the energy and ambition to push through a complex solution, while thinking critically, and even outside the box.
  • Maybe even sprinkle in a bit of vulnerability and humility in there, to really create a group dynamic that can thrive together.
  • We want to hear all perspectives in the room, so don’t forget to make space for others!
  • Here at VFC, it’s not always about the destination, it’s about the journey.
  • Failing is as much of a learning opportunity as success 😉


Collaboration, kindness and a learning mindset at every step of the way. There is no one definition of an entrepreneur, and unlocking your entrepreneurial potential looks different for each of us. 

By the end of the Selection Event, our team wants to know:

  1. That you’re passionate about dedicating a year to learning — and stretching what you thought possible; and 
  2. How you show up in a complex situation (we’d suggest that “humble”, “curious”, “collaborative”, and “open to learning” sounds good… right?) 


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...