Ty Diringer ’14 has been named a Venture for America (VFA) Fellow, a two-year program that trains recent college graduates and matches them with startup companies in fast-growing cities, such as Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Baltimore. VFA aims to teach fellows how to create a successful business that has a positive impact on the community it inhabits.
Diringer says the combination of business and social consciousness first interested him in the program. “I believe entrepreneurship can be a powerful force for good. It can create meaningful, lasting change—particularly in areas where policy and nongovernmental organizations are lacking or unable to provide a sustainable and meaningful solution,” he says.
With a degree in politics and experience with several entrepreneurial efforts, such as Kenya Reads, ObieWear, Project Unbound, and InTown already under his belt, Diringer has spent the year after graduation as the entrepreneurship fellow for the Creativity and Leadership and LaunchU programs. The two programs collectively offer entrepreneurship classes, a venture incubator, and grants that support students’ entrepreneurial initiatives, speakers, and workshops. As the fellow, Diringer works on programming and day-to-day operations and recruits students and alumni.
According to Diringer, one of the highlights of his current position is that, when he sees mutual interests between multiple people or parties that he is working with, he can bring them together. “In practice, this often looks like connecting student and young alumni entrepreneurs to alumni who can provide advice, mentorship, and resources,” he says.
When Diringer chose to attend Oberlin, he says he hoped it would challenge him, both academically and personally. It did not disappoint him, he says, and even exceeded his expectations. “Oberlin provided me with enough support and resources to take risks and have opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise, while also demanding a higher caliber of work and thought. Those opportunities have helped take me where I am now, and the lessons and feedback I received still echo today.” The words of Professor of Politics Paul Dawson and Career Center Director Richard Berman have come in particularly handy time and time again, says Diringer.
Looking ahead to his Venture for America Fellowship, Diringer will gain experience in operations and business development in addition to a new network of peers, colleagues, and community members that he can continue to work with even once the fellowship comes to a close. After participating in VFA, Diringer says, “I hope to be far more prepared to launch a social enterprise of my own.”
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