Below is an excerpt from Andrew Yang‘s new book, Smart People Should Build Things: How to Restore Our Culture of Achievement, Build a Path for Entrepreneurs, and Create New Jobs in America, which comes out in February 2014. Andrew was named Managing Director of Manhattan GMAT in 2006, Chief Executive Officer in 2007, and President in 2010. He left Manhattan GMAT in 2010 to start Venture for America, where he now serves as Founder and CEO.
Let’s imagine a very large company. It is a leader in its industry and much admired by its peers. It invests a tremendous amount of money—literally billions of dollars a year—in identifying, screening, and training its many employees. Those employees who are considered to have high potential are sent to special training programs at substantial additional cost. Happily, these top training programs are considered to be among the best in the world. After these employees complete their training, the company encourages them to choose for themselves the division in which they’d like to work. Employee preferences are deemed to be the most efficient way of deciding who works where.
This seems like a good system, and it works well for a long time. However, perhaps predictably, many of its most highly rated employees eventually become drawn to the finance and legal divisions because these divisions have very effective recruitment arms, are more visible, pay better, and are thought of as providing a more intellectual level of work. Over time, proportionally fewer of the top recruits go toward the management of the company or the company’s operations. The company’s basic training division is considered a backwater, with low pay and low recognition. And only a relative handful of employees go toward research and development or the launching of any new products.
Take a second to think about the company described above. What do you think will happen to this company as time passes? And if you think that it’s not set on a path to success, what would you do to fix it? This company reflects, in essence, the economy of the United States of America.
If you are a smart college student and you want to become a lawyer and go to law school, what you must do has been well established. You must go to a good school, get good grades (already accomplished, for many), and take the LSAT (a four-hour skill test). There is no anxiety in divining the requirements, as they are clearly spelled out. Most undergrads, even those with little interest in law school, know what it takes to get in. The path location costs are low.
The same is true if you want to become a doctor. Becoming a doctor is hard, right? Sort of. It is arduous and time-consuming, but it is not hard if you have certain academic abilities. You must take a battery of college courses (organic chemistry being the most infamous and rigorous of them) and do well, study for the MCAT (an eight-hour exam), and spend a summer or even a year caddying for a reseNavigator, doctor, or hospital. These are time-consuming hoop-jumping tasks, to be sure, but anyone with a very high level of academic aptitude can complete them.
If you attend an Ivy League university or similar national institution, legions of suit-wearing representatives from the big-name investment banks and consulting firms will show up at your campus and conduct first-round interviews to fill their ranks each year, even in a down period (as with the recent years following the financial crisis). They will spend millions of dollars enlisting interns and educating the market annually. Most freshmen have no idea what management consulting is, yet seniors can rattle off the distinctions of different firms with little difficulty. All undergraduates have friends in the classes above them who have gone through this process and gained analyst or associate positions at major investment banks and consulting firms.
We’re excited to share an update from our former President, Andrew Yang, who left us to found the Venture for America fellowship program. Venture for America Fellows, once selected, work for 2 years in a start-up or growth company in a U.S. city with the goal that they go on to become entrepreneurs. Each class receives $100,000 in seed funding at the conclusion of the 2 years. VFA supporters and board members include Jeff Weiner, the CEO of LinkedIn, Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, and David Lee of SV Angel among many others.
Over the past two years we’ve had Andrew introduce Venture for America, we shared the Time Magazine story about VFA, and we announced their latest Summer Celebration. We even shared that time that Andrew met President Obama!
Now we want to let you know that the application deadline for the 2013 fellowship is rapidly approaching! You can apply here.
Here’s the update from Andrew and Venture for America:
VENTURE FOR AMERICA , FINAL APPLICATION DEADLINE APPROACHING!
Venture for America sends young, talented graduates to work for startups in emerging cities (ie. Cincinnati, Detroit, New Orleans, Providence, Las Vegas, Baltimore, etc.), with the goal of mobilizing them as entrepreneurs moving forward.
VFA’s mission is threefold:
To revitalize American cities and communities through entrepreneurship.
To enable our best and brightest to create new opportunities for themselves and others.
To restore the culture of achievement to include value-creation, risk and reward, and the common good.
VFA recruits the best and brightest recent college graduates, provides them with training and mentorship, and places them at partner startups to help grow those organizations. This is an opportunity for students who want to learn how to build companies.
The 2013 Venture for America Fellowship consists of the following components:
· Training “ a 5-week crash course in startup readiness, held at Brown University in Summer 2013
· Company Placement “ 2 years of work at a start-up or early stage company
· Programming and Capstone “ Regular assignments, readings, and meetings, including a $100k prize at the conclusion of the program
We at Manhattan GMAT are incredibly proud of what Andrew has done with Venture for America and we wanted to pass along an opportunity for you to help support that great organization. On Tuesday, June 12th, Venture for America is having their 2012 Summer Celebration fundraiser in New York City with featured speaker Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos. Tickets are $250 (or $500 for VIP) and can be purchased here. Additional details can be found via the image below. We’ll all be there and we would love to see you there too.
If you’re unable to attend the fundraiser but would still like to support VFA, you can make a contribution to their Summer Celebration fundraising campaign
Andrew Yang, our former President here at Manhattan GMAT, recently left us to pursue his own vision: creating a non-profit organization which aims to place college grads with start-ups across the country, following the model for Teach for America. Below is Andrew’s description of his new idea, Venture for America:
When a company has a serious problem, it sends its best people to solve it.
Right now our country has a serious problem – we need to create more jobs. And yet, our top college graduates are often not heading to innovative start-ups and early stage companies that will generate jobs and produce new industries. In 2010 over 50% of Harvard graduates went to work in financial services, management consulting, or to law school, with fewer than 15% going to industry, which includes companies big and small. The same picture holds true at other top college campuses.
Despite the numbers, many graduating seniors would have a strong interest in working for a start-up that had the potential to grow. It’s an ambition that’s commonly expressed among students. But there are significant obstacles for a senior looking to pursue this sort of opportunity: Read more