How to break into VC


I am a sophomore at a top university (but that is a non-target for finance). I am majoring in math+econ, and have a solid GPA (3.62, will bring it up). I am doing an internship with BAML Global Wealth Management, and am looking into a consulting internship with MBB within the next year, hopefully. My question is, how can I break into VC? I have a solid understanding of how VC's work, having worked at an entrepreneurship center for over a year and having attended many venture forums. I'm guessing I should probably keep going to these forums and do some heavy networking with the MD's that attend, but how can I position myself as a good candidate for an internship or even an analyst position, given VC's seldom seem to hire "young" people? Should I offer to work for free for a summer?

Comments (80)

Jan 29, 2010 - 6:53am

try and found your own company first. vcs often have entrepreneurs

========================================= We are excited to formally extend to you an offer to join Bank of Ameria
Jan 29, 2010 - 9:04am

there are a tiny group of VCs that hire straight from undergrad, but these are purely for sourcing jobs (eg Insight in New York).

You have one of two routes: Like PJC said (his first real post ever), entrepreneurship is the primary path into VC, and the one that will give you a real shot at a partner track. You can't really add value in VC if you don't know a particular industry down cold and if you haven't built a product or business before. Consultants and IBs don't last more than two years in VC typically.

Path 2 Pre-MBA after your MBB, IB or product mgt stint at Google, you can work for a fund in a 'pre-MBA role.' As the title implies, this is a two-three year and out type position, with the expectation you do something else following your stint...

Jan 29, 2010 - 9:30am

Sorry bud, but you do not have a solid understanding of how VCs work having worked at an entrepreneurship center for over year and having attended many venture forums. That's like saying you're looking to make the jump to the NBA after having been a JV high school player in South Dakota, and the fact that you've attended many NBA All-Star games in addition to being a sub-par high school player makes you qualified to go pro. I agree with what everyone has said so far, either start a company and do really well, then you can become an EIR at a VC firm; or go to IB where boutique/smaller VC shops and growth equity firms hire (i.e. Summit Partners, TA, etc.). It's very hard to get into VC straight out of undergrad, but some venture firms do this; usually though, these people went to targets, graduated with a 4.0, summered at a top group, top shop in IB, went to space with Lance Bass, AND have great connections. Don't offer to work for free; it's viewed as desperate.

Jan 29, 2010 - 12:11pm

there are a tiny group of VCs that hire straight from undergrad, but these are purely for sourcing jobs (eg Insight in New York).

What would a path be like for an undergrad who starts out in one of these sourcing roles in VC or growth eq? Do they typically exit somewhere after a 2-3 year stint, or continue at the same firm in a more typical "Associate" role?
Jan 29, 2010 - 12:09pm

This being my long term goal, I've done quite a bit of research. Like said above, really the fastest you can get to VC is through an associate role at a growth equity fund (TA, Summit). At most firms, associates or junior directors are typically late 20's early thirties. From what I've observed, +75% have had some IB m&a or tech coverage group experience. McKinsey here and there, but mostly BB IBD initially with a engineering or finance background. Then a leadership or development role at a large tech company such as Yahoo, Google, or any other company where they have realized outstanding accomplishments. About as many MBA's vs non MBA's. So a quick road map for a typical VC is as follows (for tech): Engineering or finance--> IBD tech or m&a--> Biz development or tech company leadership (VP of this or that)-->maybe VC.

Also keep in mind that VC is by far the smallest in size of the buyside world. I've heard it can be almost impossible to break in without having your name already on the radar.

Ace all your PE interview questions with the WSO Private Equity Prep Pack:
Jan 30, 2010 - 11:02am

For a GE career track, best to start at a TA, Summit or TCV...i think either 3 give you street cred. You need to have demonstrated deal sourcing (banging the phones) capability and profitable deal generation. This usually leads to MBA (H/S/W), and from there I've seen most either go back to GE (either at the first 3 or at different funds), try something new like HF or PE

Best Response
Jul 21, 2011 - 1:21am

It is tough to break in. You need to get into the door someway. A great way is to meet a partner, impress them and then work for free. Do due diligence. Source deals even if it isn't your job. Send promising entrepreneurs their way. When you do due diligence, be quick and thorough, and beat their expectations. Prove that you are smart and competent. If you know your shit, know how to network and get lucky, you may land yourself a position.

Additional things to do:

Read a ton: read hacker news, VCs blogs, Tech Crunch, books on business and technology

Write a ton: write on Quora, write a blog, leave comments, analyze new tech IPOs. Show what you are capable of.

Build a brand. Help startups, give advice, make connections, do cool initiatives, organize events, do startups.

You have to hustle. I have a non traditional background (no college degree, no banking experience, no successful startups) and have broken into the VC world. Yes, I did get lucky but I also worked hard and smart. I also love startups, like I spend a lot of my free time reading about them, consulting for them, going to events about them, etc. Yes you may be able to fake that, but you should really fucking love startups because that is what VC is about, helping cool startups succeed. Yes, you also have a fiduciary duty to your LPs but the way you succeed is investing in the best startups and then helping them succeed.

You will have close to no chance landing a job by applying for an open position, too much competition. You need to build a connection, prove yourself and slide through the back door. Good luck

Jan 29, 2018 - 12:19pm

This x 1,000,000

There is no conventional way. The fact of the matter is, if you have to ask, you won't get in. Everything @SVOasis said is correct. It could take years of networking or experience to get a shot. I do not believe you have to be an ex-entrepreneur to be a VC. Breaking into VC will be more of a strategic culmination of your time rather than a LinkedIn message.

Do what @SVOasis said, "Read a ton: read hacker news, VCs blogs, Tech Crunch, books on business and technology

Write a ton: write on Quora, write a blog, leave comments, analyze new tech IPOs. Show what you are capable of.

Build a brand. Help startups, give advice, make connections, do cool initiatives, organize events, do startups."

PM me if you want an extensive list of resources.

Jul 21, 2011 - 1:39am

How to get into Venture Capital (Originally Posted: 08/10/2006)

Well it's kind of would one go about getting a job as a venture capitalist?

I konw it's a hard industry to get into, but what I've heard is that they like consulting guys better than investment bankers...:)

"We are lawyers! We sue people! Occasionally, we get aggressive and garnish wages, but WE DO NOT ABDUCT!" -Boston Legal-
Jul 21, 2011 - 1:41am

How difficult is it to break into VC? (Originally Posted: 01/11/2011)


I went to a top 25 school with pretty decent grades. I have been working in financial services for two years and am hoping to break into venture capital. Will it be necessary to do investment banking first? How difficult is it to break in the current economy with a banking background? Any advice would be extremely helpful!

VC Newb

Jul 21, 2011 - 1:45am

How to break into the VC industry (Originally Posted: 12/24/2010)

I am just looking for a VC/M&A internship. I come from a non-target school with a 3.1 GPA 3.6 Major GPA. No prior internship experience. Very involved in school and an athlete. I have been looking through my school, which has only taken me so far. I have been emailing companies (Boutique) my resume and cover letter. I would like some advice at the least on how to approach a smaller company and any advice you would think is helpful for me. Thank you monkeys.

Jul 21, 2011 - 1:49am

College -> VC? (Originally Posted: 12/03/2012)

Little about me: BB IBD SA (rotated in TMT & LevFin), applying for grad roles in M&A, but have only ever been interested in banking as a stepping stone to VC.

Does anyone know any firms that take on college grads? Don't mind if its "bitchwork" for first couple years (banking's not much better in that respect).

You know you've been working too hard when you stop dreaming about bottles of champagne and hordes of naked women, and start dreaming about conditional formatting and circular references.
Jul 21, 2011 - 1:54am

Undergrad econ -> VC (Originally Posted: 02/26/2012)

So I understand that this is rare, but how rare? Specifically for econ major from NU and Chicago VC's. Also, what's compensations like, 80-120k? And if you put in your 2 years in IBanking, then go to a VC, are you an associate or an analyst?

Jan 29, 2018 - 12:20pm

Best stepping stone to Venture Capital (Originally Posted: 11/04/2014)

I'm targeting my sights on getting into venture capital. I want to seek out technology start-ups, evaluate their potential, and execute large investments. So does everybody else, right?

I have three years of experience at a top tier actuarial consulting firm. I've just about got my ASA, if you're familiar with actuarial designations. I've gotten a lot of experience in modeling and have a good mind for finance.

I want to find an intermediate job that will help to put me in a good position to break in. I also want to continue studying and getting designations, if they'll help. I've been mulling around some ideas, and would appreciate your input. Some things I've been considering:

  • taking accounting courses
  • getting my CFA designation
  • strategic due diligence
  • equity research
  • M&A
  • risk analysis
  • I-banking
  • portfolio management / investment analysis

I realize this is very general, but any input would be greatly appreciated.

Jan 29, 2018 - 12:24pm

Long Journey Adhead: Non Target to VC Best Route ? (Originally Posted: 12/09/2013)

So after having little career direction while an undergrad, yet doing solid academically (3.8 double major finance and econ) at a non target Florida state school I've recently come to the realization that I want to get into VC/PE. I've had some internships but nothing strongly related. Was looking for some advice on which direction to go and steps to take to position myself best for a solid career in VC . Right now I'm considering an MSF program at a much more reputable school but keep second guessing myself. Anybody got any advice ?


A hungry chimp

Jan 29, 2018 - 12:29pm

Top VC firms assume you can learn the technical financial skills on the job, what they really want is an individual who understands the marketspace, has an exceptional network and typically sometype of mixed operating/financial/consulting experience. Last but not least is the ability to sell and form relationships. Many of the market leaders (companies) will have multiple firms chasing after them, why should they choose yours?

Jan 29, 2018 - 12:35pm

Here is what I look for...

Intelligence and intellectual curiosity.

Direct experience in a start up (perferably a successful one) and expert level understanding of either technology or marketing (not making logos and brochures, but how to build a business that makes money; e.g. BD, distribution, web, etc.) Both would be golden.

Good academic background (need to see the ability to learn, and stick at something). Modeling is o.k., but reading financial info is more important than being a spreadsheet jockey. Too much jitter in new ventures to be meaningful. DCF..? Yeah, right.

Enthusiasm. VC world is about hope. Need to be passionate about this stuff.

Ability to add value to portfolio companies. Can be all kinds of things...people networks, technology, operations, sales.

Good luck.

Jan 29, 2018 - 12:36pm

Best/Fastest Route to Venture capital (Originally Posted: 08/07/2016)

I am very interested in getting into Venture Capital and I was wondering if someone could provide insight as to the typical steps to getting into a VC firm as fast as possible out of college or even through internships during college. I am a rising sophomore.

Jan 29, 2018 - 12:38pm
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