Brandeis International Business School

004: Networking & Learning

The Winding Path from Graduation to Co-Founder of

Georges Clement is a co-founder of, a nonprofit that supports tenants facing harassment and poor housing conditions with technology to build well-documented cases and connect with community and legal advocates. Georges is also a Kennedy fellow studying the Intersection of Technology and Public Policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

Previously, Georges was a fellow with Blue Ridge Labs at the Robin Hood Foundation and a Product Manager at General Assembly, leading the expansion of General Assembly's business programs around the world. He was recently selected as a Forbes 30 Under 30 in Law and Policy, a World Economic Forum Global Shaper and an American Express Emerging Innovator.

From the Dorm Room

When Georges started at University of Wisconsin, he was in the business school and planning on majoring in Management or Finance. But after he took his first accounting class and didn't do so well, he realized that it was not a topic of interesting for him. All of the business courses that Georges took felt very general and abstract, and they just didn't get him excited.

That same year, Georges took a couple of courses in the sociology departments, met a couple of fantastic professors and became really interested in Sociology as a discipline and studying inequality in various areas of of life.

“With a Sociology degree, you're sort of interested in a lot of things and prepared for, virtually, no particular jobs except going into academia. And so, I was open to lots of different types of job opportunities,” and you really have to have an open mind in those first years on the job market.

Georges found his first opportunities by tapping into his network, and a friend working in technology encouraged him to look at startups. Georges found an education startup that had just graduated from Y Combinator.

They were a founding team of three with a couple of employees, but Georges was lucky enough to join that team after a short stint on a congressional campaign. “They sort of needed somebody young, and eager, and willing to not make very much money because they had raised a very small seed round, who could do a little bit of everything.”

Georges got to build out, over the course of a year, a team for sales, customer service and marketing. He had the opportunity to touch many different aspects of the company and really see what it took to bring a company from one customer, to 100 customers, to 1000, to 10,000. After that year, the company sort of fizzled out, and the founders chose to leave.

But Georges learned two critical lessons from this experience:

One, network building is king. “That has absolutely been the single largest driver of getting from step to step in my career thus far... when you're creating your own path, it very much comes from meeting people and getting introductions. And I must have had 20 different interviews or informal interviews that were getting coffee or getting a drink with somebody who maybe knew someone useful or was maybe hiring.”

You need to go into each of those conversations with a particular goal in mind, but also being open minded and communicating that you are willing to be scrappy and just want to learn. So, let things start to happen organically, but communicate that you simply want your foot in the door, and you want to work with really good people.

Two, “most people aren't necessarily getting an undergrad education that is going to prepare them with the kind of hard skills that most people need in the workplace... I'm still always shocked at seeing that you can graduate with a four-year degree in marketing and not know how to run a Facebook ad... And there's still this big gap in actually knowing how to execute in that role when you get into that job. So, still acknowledging that there's going to be a lot of ongoing learning that you're going to need to do even when you step foot into your first role.”

If there are things that you are excited about but you don’t feel like the first job that you get is directly about that topic, don't panic! Careers are extremely long, and the intersection of various careers and various topics of interest is always possible down the road.

“Everything is going to be okay,” Georges says. “It might feel like a very winding path, that's fine. It is an exploration. It can feel worrisome at points that there doesn't seem to necessarily be a North Star, or if there is, that that shifts a little bit. That's totally natural.”

Some of the opportunities that end up being the greatest opportunities for growth and learning won’t feel like option number one at any given moment. So roll with the punches and use every single opportunity and hurdle that comes at you as a learning experience.

To the Boardroom

JustFix is a bit of a unique entity in that they look and operate very much like a tech startup, but they’re actually a non-profit. And so they’re trying to apply the same kind of technology and data techniques that are very common in the for-profit and Silicon Valley worlds to help address a really critical problem in New York City and in cities across the country.

What problem are they addressing? There are over a million New Yorkers across all five boroughs that live in what the city defines as deficient housing. That means an apartment that has three or more major violations present and unaddressed at any given time. These are things like lead paint, black mold, lack of heat or hot water, rats and cockroaches: “any of these issues would be really difficult and frustrating to deal with, and dangerous to deal with... And so, you're talking about over a million people in New York City alone that are living in conditions that can be quite dangerous and unhealthy.”

So, JustFix are supporting those New Yorkers to take action to improve the conditions in their apartments. They help those tenants with a simple, self-help, web-based tool to take action and take various steps; you can think of it as Turbo Tax for taking action against your landlord, wherein an individual tenant can build out their case.

So, that means uploading photo evidence, completing a checklist of issues that they're dealing with, and any other kind of communications that they've had with their management company or super in their building. And then JustFix streamlines their ability to report these issues to the city, or send notices to their landlord, or actually start a case in housing court.

It’s a great company that sits at the intersection of public policy and tech startups – two things that Georges didn’t necessarily set out to do intentionally, but got experience in because he was willing to take whatever opportunity he had to learn.


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