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Struggling Cities Lure Entrepreneurial College Grads


Recent college grads or rising seniors worried about the tough post-college job market should take a look at Venture for America, a nonprofit organization aimed at entrepreneurs. As its name would suggest, Venture for America aims to do for entrepreneurship what Teach for America did for teaching: namely, take high-quality college graduates and pair them with start-ups located in impoverished communities (Detroit, Cleveland and Baltimore) with the aim of eventually encouraging participants to found start-ups of their own. As the New York Times reports, the program has become a haven for idealistic young people:

“Smart people should be building things,” said Andrew Yang, 38, who started Venture for America in 2011…“Instead, they become bankers and consultants. We need to do something about talent allocation that pulls our top minds toward these fields.” […]

Venture for America is tapping into a generational ethos that views the 20s as an age to experiment and to pick a passion over a big paycheck. Ms. Kumar said her calculus in taking the position at the Downtown Project in Las Vegas was “What can I be most fulfilled by?”

“There’s a different framework,” she said, “for what a good job is these days.”

Recent graduates often leave college with good survival skills for academia but little idea of how to run a business or survive in the marketplace. Colleges and universities are still laughably poor at training entrepreneurs or imparting basic business skills; any programs that can help pick up this slack gets our vote.

The cities, meanwhile, would ideally benefit from this entrepreneurial energy as well. One small program isn’t nearly enough to solve the multitude of political, economic and social problems afflicting these cities, but it’s a lot better than waiting and hoping in vain for mass employment in manufacturing to return. The middle class jobs in America’s future are likely to come from new businesses that today’s college grads and other bright young people will dream up and build. Smart cities need to think about how to become attractive to young entrepreneurs.

[Mortar boards image courtesy of Shutterstock]

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  • Jim__L

    Um. Can we please get realistic students in these programs? If you just go with the idealists, they’re not likely to get very far.

    Although, maybe you can’t get very far with the realists with a “program” mentality.

    • Andrew Allison

      Doesn’t “‘Smart people should be building things,’ said Andrew Yang” address this?

  • vepxistqaosani

    In the age of “you didn’t build that”, Obamacare, and an ever-growing regulatory state, it makes perfect sense to opt for consultancy and finance over actually, well, making things.

    This is unlikely to change any time soon.

    • Kavanna

      Especially if you’re carrying a huge student debt burden.

      People have yet to get the truth, that the Democrats are the party of cronyistic plutocracy, driven by finance capitalism — with the Fed at your back and swimming in a sea of imaginary wealth.

  • Kavanna
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