Molly Scott and Adam Anshan are both alumni of the Rowe School of Business – Molly graduated in 2015 from the BComm program and Adam graduated in the same year from the BMgmt program. Molly and Adam are being featured in this week’s Student Spotlight because of their involvement with the Venture for Canada Fellowship Program, a program that aims to foster entrepreneurship opportunities for recent graduates in Canada. We caught up with them to hear about their experience in the program and ask a few questions on behalf of graduating students who might be interested in applying to the program for themselves.
What attracted you to the Fellowship program?
Molly: “After graduating from the Dalhousie Commerce program in 2015, I applied and was awarded a placement in the Chinese Government Scholarship Program. I received funding to study Chinese language and culture at Fudan University in Shanghai. My year in Shanghai gave me the opportunity to think objectively about what path I wanted to take when I returned to Canada. While still in China, I applied for both the Venture for Canada program and to Queen’s University’s Masters in International Business. When weighing the two opportunities, I decided that work experience in a startup setting would be extremely valuable. The entrepreneurial experience that I would gain was attractive to me. The excitement of working at an early stage company was an opportunity I couldn’t let pass. I knew it would give me exposure to many sides of business and it would further develop my skills in the business world.”
Adam: “I was always interested in entrepreneurship and the start-up world, but didn’t feel ready to start my own business right out of school. When I came across VFC and learned how it would prepare me for a career in the start-up ecosystem, it really excited me. It only got better as I got to know the other Fellows and started working at QRA Corp.”
How did your experience in the program unfold?
Adam: “It was a great experience overall. Being in the first cohort of VFC there was still a lot of strategic planning to be done, and in a lot of ways, VFC was itself a start-up. But getting to help shape the program for future cohorts, getting to know the other fellows, and being introduced to so many amazing companies really helped me gain an understanding of the space, the players, and build some crucial skills for the rest of my career.”
What did you learn from the experience?
Molly: “Venture for Canada has shaped my career. All aspects of Venture for Canada have been valuable from the early days through the training camp and continue through the ongoing learning opportunities, and the mentoring I have received. The Venture for Canada Fellowship Program has allowed me to become part of a community of recent graduates from all over Canada. Even though our backgrounds are diverse in many ways, we share the common interest of entrepreneurship.”
Adam: “More than anything I learned that start-ups are messy, and they ALL have their challenges. Even the companies with significant funding and hype, face internal issues that people rarely, if ever, see. I learned that you must accept that, change what you can and learn to live with what you can’t. Overall, start-ups are a great place to be because there are so many questions that need answering and problems that need solving. But a lot of days that’s frustrating and it can feel like treading water until that breakthrough happens.”
How has VFC’s Fellowship Program benefitted your career?
Molly: “My career has benefited from the strong VFC community. It has proven beneficial to be able to reach out to Fellows with questions and to learn from one another. My work at the Toronto startup, Borrowell, is a direct result of my participation in the program. I began working at Borrowell two and a half years ago and it has been thrilling to be a part of a company that is experiencing rapid growth. Helping to implement positive change in the finance industry makes my work meaningful – and makes me excited to come to work every day.”
Adam: “The network of Fellows. The friendships and connections made throughout my time with VFC are by far the more valuable aspects of the program. I met many of my closest friends through VFC and they’ve been hugely supportive throughout my career from both a personal and professional point of view.”
What advice do you have for students thinking of working in the start-up/entrepreneurial landscape?
Molly: “The startup/entrepreneurial landscape is an amazing place to begin your career. It allows you to hit the ground running and to put into practice all that you have learned in your classes. You will have a front row seat to see how the work you do impacts the business you are in.”
Adam: “Find a company doing something you find interesting or see as valuable. Start-ups are a tough place to work, a lot is expected of each staff member and often it’s a thankless job. But it’s a huge opportunity to take on responsibilities that would likely take years to receive in more established companies. Find somewhere that aligns with your values – whether that’s what they sell or the internal values of the company – and don’t lose sight of why you started when things get tough!”
To learn more about the Venture for Canada Fellowship Program, visit their website at https://www.ventureforcanada.ca/applyfellowship/. For those looking to apply now, the application deadline is February 18th. The posting can be found in myCareer, job ID #80137.
And for students embarking on a work term this summer, explore the option of pursuing an Entrepreneurial Work Term by attending our Info Session next Tuesday, January 29th. Learn more and register to attend via the myCareer Events Calendar.