What’s it like to be a Royster Lawton Fellow?

Ask Cole Chisom, who worked as fellow in Clockwork, a Charlottesville-based early stage financial services company.

“The Royster-Lawton Fellowship allowed me to take on an impactful role at an early stage, local venture that otherwise likely would not have been possible.”
Cole Chisom , Class of 2020  College of Arts & Sciences – Economics & Statistics

Cole Chisom, Class of 2020

College of Arts & Sciences – Economics & Statistics

I first learned of the Royster-Lawton Fellowship while stumbling around the SE @ UVA website in an attempt to find more information about course offerings. I was drawn to one of the main premises of the program -- providing an additional stipend to allow students to pursue opportunities no matter their financial feasibility. I had found an opportunity at an impact-oriented early stage company that simply would be unable to provide the salary of larger, more established companies. Fortunately, I was accepted into the fellowship and began my work at Clockwork in June.

Clockwork is a Charlottesville-based early stage financial services company that provides due diligence for early stage investors, performs portfolio monitoring, and provides operational support for startups. During my time at Clockwork, I was able to perform diligence on nearly fifteen early stage companies that ranged from sustainable living platforms to ecommerce marketplaces to organizations targeting high achieving, low-income students. In short, my experience was broad as I was exposed to a multitude of unique business models, ranging levels of social impact focus, and various stages of the venture capital process.

“I was able to perform diligence on nearly fifteen early stage companies that ranged from sustainable living platforms to ecommerce marketplaces to organizations targeting high achieving, low-income students.”

Working at an early-stage, constantly developing company further opened my eyes to the potential roles I could take on within an organization. In addition to my deal work, I picked up a personal project analyzing various metrics around Clockwork’s deal efficiency. I was given significant freedom to craft the project as I saw fit and felt that I was making an operational impact for the company. During my time, I was also able to pick up ad-hoc projects supporting early stage companies, which included market research, assisting in budget modeling, and critiquing pitch materials.  

Clockwork is a bit unique in that its full time team members are dispersed across New York, Charlottesville, Uruguay, and Mexico. While I was unable to visit other offices during my time, I did get to meet all four partners over the course of the summer. Also, as one of the founding partners was the only other team member located in Charlottesville, I was able to listen in on calls, take part in meetings, and, more generally, watch an entrepreneur run an early stage company.

Beyond simply enabling my experience at Clockwork, the fellowship also meant being a part of a talented cohort of individuals pursuing other socially-focused opportunities. My cohort’s experiences ranged from startups to the public sector to the venture capital and nonprofit spaces. I was consistently able to bounce ideas off others and hear about experiences in other sectors that may be of interest moving forward. The program provided additional support around networking, resumes, and interviews. The Royster-Lawton Fellowship allowed me to take on an impactful role at an early stage, local venture that otherwise likely would not have been possible.

In sum, the program provided an encompassing experience to ensure that Fellows not only succeeded in our summer internships but also were equipped for future opportunities. As a result of my summer, I fostered an interest in venture capital and entrepreneurship, while also determining that I strongly enjoy the operational aspect of running and improving businesses. The Royster-Lawton Fellowship allowed me to take on an impactful role at an early stage, local venture that otherwise likely would not have been possible. To say I am grateful for my time in the program is an understatement.  

Spend your summer working towards an impact. Apply here!