From Europe to Westcoast VC

Hey guys,

firstly, yes I know that my plan is ridiculously hard and maybe nearly impossible, but nevertheless I really want to give it a shot since it is one of my biggest dreams. Hence, I appreciate all your answers, proposals and criticism.

Background:
- top 10% (presumably even 5%) at my non-target university in Continental Europe
- semester abroad in the US (California)
- 4 internships so far:
*Corporate Banking at a large European bank (BNP, SA, CB)
*Big4 Audit
*Big4 corporate finance / TAS
*Elite Boutique M&A long term internship (4 months)
- languages: English + 2 continental European languages (one native, the other one conversational)

After my time in California, I realized that this is the place were I want to live. I'm not talking about LA or (awesome) San Diego, I'm talking about the Bay Area. SF, Redwood City, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, etc., I just loved it there for a bunch of reasons. What comes in handy is the fact that I'm highly interested in Venture Capital and the Start Up scene and this is what I want to do for a living. I guess the Bay Area is the right place to get a foot on the ground in this sector.

Sooo..

Do you have any recommendations, tips, insights etc. how it would be possible for me to get a permanent job in VC or a finance role at a Start Up (to begin with) on the Westcoast? I guess the large VC firms recruit mainly from targets like Stanford or Berkeley.

At the moment, I'm thinking about doing a Master's in Finance degree in Europe at a European target (LSE, Oxbridge, Imperial, HEC, SSE) but I'm not sure whether a European top degree really boosts my chances to get into Westcoast VC?

Furthermore, I was thinking about applying to Venture Capital arms of European firms with operations on the WC (like Siemens Venture Capital in Palo Alto) and trying to transition after 6 months or a year. Do you think this is generally possible?

Any other ideas? Do Bay Area Start Ups generally hire foreigners, or is this uncommon due to Visa restrictions?

Thanks guys, I really appreciate any help.

Comments (11)

 
Nov 28, 2012 - 12:18pm

If you want to work in the US, a Master's degree from a European target (without being a US citizen) will not help you. The easiest (and probably most realistic) way to approach this is to either work for a firm and then ask for a rotation to a US office (which can prove to be difficult if they don't want to sponsor you or if they don't see why you should go) or go to a school in the US for a Master's or MBA. The latter is probably your best bet, due to the fact that you basically get a free work visa for 1 year after graduating from a US university.

I'm talking about liquid. Rich enough to have your own jet. Rich enough not to waste time. Fifty, a hundred million dollars, buddy. A player. Or nothing.

See my Blog & AMA

 
Nov 28, 2012 - 2:07pm

PlusMinus:

At the moment, I'm thinking about doing a Master's in Finance degree in Europe at a European target (LSE, Oxbridge, Imperial, HEC, SSE) but I'm not sure whether a European top degree really boosts my chances to get into Westcoast VC?

If grad school really is an option you are willing to explore AND you are competitive at the programs you list, you should take the GRE instead and consider the Stanford Masters in Management Science and Engineering (Finance and Economics track) instead. It will set you up much better to find a role in Bay Area Tech Finance (either directly or indirectly into VC). Not only will it set you up with better job prospects and bring you closer to the action, but since there are career engineers (programmers) in other tracks, it will give you a base on which to build a network of tech industry professionals, which will be important for later success in VC.

http://exploredegrees.stanford.edu/schoolofengineering/managementscienceandengineering/#masterstext

“Millionaires don't use astrology, billionaires do”
 
Nov 29, 2012 - 12:18pm

Nouveau Richie:
PlusMinus:

At the moment, I'm thinking about doing a Master's in Finance degree in Europe at a European target (LSE, Oxbridge, Imperial, HEC, SSE) but I'm not sure whether a European top degree really boosts my chances to get into Westcoast VC?

If grad school really is an option you are willing to explore AND you are competitive at the programs you list, you should take the GRE instead and consider the Stanford Masters in Management Science and Engineering (Finance and Economics track) instead. It will set you up much better to find a role in Bay Area Tech Finance (either directly or indirectly into VC). Not only will it set you up with better job prospects and bring you closer to the action, but since there are career engineers (programmers) in other tracks, it will give you a base on which to build a network of tech industry professionals, which will be important for later success in VC.

http://exploredegrees.stanford.edu/schoolofengineering/managementscienceandengineering/#masterstext

Thanks for all your responses guys!

@Nouveau: Maybe I should have mentioned that I have an Economics degree, so I guess the Engineering part of the Stanford Master will hit me pretty hard, don't you think? I never had any class about dynamics, etc.

Do you think it would be easier to get hired in Westcoast Investment Banking from a European target? Is this more common? Thanks!

 
Nov 29, 2012 - 2:54pm

PlusMinus:
Nouveau Richie:
PlusMinus:

At the moment, I'm thinking about doing a Master's in Finance degree in Europe at a European target (LSE, Oxbridge, Imperial, HEC, SSE) but I'm not sure whether a European top degree really boosts my chances to get into Westcoast VC?

If grad school really is an option you are willing to explore AND you are competitive at the programs you list, you should take the GRE instead and consider the Stanford Masters in Management Science and Engineering (Finance and Economics track) instead. It will set you up much better to find a role in Bay Area Tech Finance (either directly or indirectly into VC). Not only will it set you up with better job prospects and bring you closer to the action, but since there are career engineers (programmers) in other tracks, it will give you a base on which to build a network of tech industry professionals, which will be important for later success in VC.

http://exploredegrees.stanford.edu/schoolofengineering/managementscienceandengineering/#masterstext

Thanks for all your responses guys!

@Nouveau: Maybe I should have mentioned that I have an Economics degree, so I guess the Engineering part of the Stanford Master will hit me pretty hard, don't you think? I never had any class about dynamics, etc.

Do you think it would be easier to get hired in Westcoast Investment Banking from a European target? Is this more common? Thanks!

I suppose the question in response would be: "Easier in relation to what alternative?"

With Silicon Valley in mind, would being from a European target school be easier than being from a European nontarget school? Obviously.
Would being from a European target school be easier than being from Stanford? Obviously not.

“Millionaires don't use astrology, billionaires do”
 
Nov 28, 2012 - 2:07pm

Nouveau Richie, did you this course? Any idea about placement?

I'm talking about liquid. Rich enough to have your own jet. Rich enough not to waste time. Fifty, a hundred million dollars, buddy. A player. Or nothing.

See my Blog & AMA

 
Nov 28, 2012 - 2:29pm

Matrick:
Nouveau Richie, did you this course? Any idea about placement?

I have not personally. However, I live in SF and have met a handful of people from the program in my current field (Tech M&A), even more in the field I've been networking to get into (Growth Equity/VC/Tech PE), and a solid amount in relevant tangential fields (both business and product side of Google, other tech majors, hot disruptive startups, etc.) to know that it's a legit program.

“Millionaires don't use astrology, billionaires do”
 
Nov 28, 2012 - 2:48pm

Nouveau Richie:

I have not personally. However, I live in SF and have met a handful of people from the program in my current field (Tech M&A), even more in the field I've been networking to get into (Growth Equity/VC/Tech PE), and a solid amount in relevant tangential fields (both business and product side of Google, other tech majors, hot disruptive startups, etc.) to know that it's a legit program.

Hey NR, have you seen/met some people from European targets like LSE and Oxbridge in SF Banking and Venture Capital or are there literally no people from European schools?

 
Nov 29, 2012 - 4:33pm

Nouveau Richie:
Matrick:
Nouveau Richie, did you this course? Any idea about placement?

I have not personally. However, I live in SF and have met a handful of people from the program in my current field (Tech M&A), even more in the field I've been networking to get into (Growth Equity/VC/Tech PE), and a solid amount in relevant tangential fields (both business and product side of Google, other tech majors, hot disruptive startups, etc.) to know that it's a legit program.

Interesting. Do you know what these people have for stats to get into the program?

I'm talking about liquid. Rich enough to have your own jet. Rich enough not to waste time. Fifty, a hundred million dollars, buddy. A player. Or nothing.

See my Blog & AMA

 
Nov 30, 2012 - 7:30pm

I grew up in Europe and did my undergrad in the US at an Ivy League school. Then bulge bracket banking, then VC. So it is possible. But you're right, your degree from a European school won't help you, and you should absolutely consider only US schools for your Master's for two reasons:

(1) You get OPT work authorization with your student visa after graduation (1-year to find a job or start work right away which includes buffer time to get your work visa sponsorship) and an H1-B visa once you get hired and get your employer to sponsor it.

(2) Some European schools have great programs (LSE, LBS, Cambridge, … I wouldn't put HEC at par with these, honestly…) but the network is severely limited to EMEA and Asia. Applying to jobs in the US from London will be a waste of time, as employers will want to see you for 3, 4 or 5 rounds of interviews over a couple of months and will not pay for your intercontinental flights when there are kids from Stanford and Berkeley next door that are as qualified and have the proper immigration paperwork done if international.

All fellow Europeans that I know who are now in the US with me have all studied here (undergrad, MBA, or both). The one or two exceptions got transferred from the London to the NYC office of their firms back when the economy was good, were usually more senior, and got Green Cards as a result (unheard of since 2008 unless very senior, like VP-level or Director-level).

Something else you should consider. Work in Europe for 3-4 years and apply to a top MBA program. International work experience is valued. And the MBA is seen as a much more valuable and superior degree to traditional Master's degree.

PM me if you have more specific questions, I've advised a dozen friends from Europe on this before, and I could literally be an immigration attorney as I had to deal with every single kind of student and work visa imaginable.

Aei ho theos geōmetreî
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