• Amba Brown

Advice for graduates — don’t start something, join something



It’s June, and for millions of high school and college students across the country that means graduation. Hundreds of thousands of the world’s most talented, capable young people are heading out into the world to make their mark. Here in the Bay Area, the birthplace of the startup, creating your own company or organization can feel like the only true measure of success. I’m asking graduates to consider joining something first instead.

More people are committed to being active agents of change at younger ages than ever before. And yet, over the past five years in my quest to answer the question — “Why do some social startups succeed, while others don’t?” — I’ve heard countless stories of students graduating from college and starting organizations with very few tools in their toolkit to handle the challenges that starting an organization inevitably presents.

There’s an endless amount of passion upon graduation, but not a lot of seasoned leadership, fundraising experience, innovation, clear metrics and strong storytelling. As a result, the nonprofit sector, which is already so starved for resources, is wasting time and money while young people learn these lessons on the job.

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