How to Get Your First Job in Venture Capital
Getting a job in venture capital is not about “who you know.” It’s about “who you’ve helped.”
The best way to get a job in venture capital is to spend a few years helping people who work in tech, with no agenda other then to build up goodwill.
If you do a really good job and help people in a meaningful way, at some point within those few years you will likely get recruited into venture capital, asked to apply for a job, or receive an unsolicited referral.
Most people will never get to work in venture capital because they will not be willing to “help people” for a sustained period of time, without a clear path into a job. People don’t like doing work, unless they know exactly what they’ll get out of it.
And if you’re one of the few willing to take the path less clear, you’ll find most of the competition weeded out by the unwillingness of others to do the same.
“Networking” as a way to get a job into venture capital does not work. Applying for jobs in venture capital very rarely works.
What Can You Offer to VC’s?
(1) It depends on who you are. If you are in college you can email a bunch of VC’s and ask them if they need help navigating your school/the entrepreneurship clubs on campus, the startups, etc.
(2) When you meet a venture capitalist ask her what kinds of deals she likes to invest in. Then, when you go to events and you see startups that fit within that thesis ask that same VC if she would like to be in touch with the company and make an intro.
(3) VC’s like meeting other VC’s and angel investors so that they can exchange deal flow. I used to intro two people who were baller to each other because I knew they’d want to meet. And by being in between them I looked super awesome — even if I was not close to their level.
(4) Do free research. If you see a VC firm that’s investing in a particular sector, develop your own opinion about the space and present it to the VC for free.
(5) Help startup founders find customers (startup founders often source new employees for the VC firms that have backed them).
(6) Help startup founders find new employees.
(7) Volunteer at events.
DO ANYTHING TO HELP PEOPLE!
The reason this is so important is that your main job as a junior VC is to find deals your firm could potentially invest in, and HELP those companies.
The best way to find deals is to have a really big network and the best way to build one of those is to help people. The best way to help people is to have practice helping people.
What should you do in the Mean Time?
Go work at a company that you believe in. Do not optimize for job title, find the coolest company and tell them you’ll “do anything.” If the company grows, you’ll grow with it and the job title will eventually come.
While working at that company do the job you were hired to do between 8 am and 6 pm. Then do the job you WANT to be doing for that company between 6 pm and 8 am. Eventually if you do the job you want to be doing for free, the company will be forced to start paying you for it if you’re any good.
When Will It Happen?
I have no idea how long it’ll take for you to get a job in Venture Capital. But if you’re just asking now, it won’t be soon. It takes time, it takes spending years acting like you’re in VC and doing VC-like things for free before you’ve proven you can. And then you’ll get tapped into it.
It could take a year. It could take three. But if you keep helping, keep meeting people, being their friend, creating genuine connections and helping people in meaningful ways that are not annoying, it’ll happen.