Looking for advice | VC -> ?

Hello all - longtime lurker here. I've hit a crossroads in my career and I'm looking for some advice.

I went to a target school on the east coast and worked at a MM IB firm focused on M&A. The firm was extremely well known for its vertical and placed well into PE/HFs in the same vertical. However, during my college career, I spent a lot of time with VCs and the tech community and I had real genuine interest in the asset class. I left the IB firm to join a new VC firm that had raised $150VC was my dream and I was beyond ecstatic to leave banking and enter VC. The firm was focused on Series A & B deals.

At the time I didn't care about comp, I only wanted to get out of banking and break into VC. I ended up taking a pay cut to join the firm. In banking my comp ~ $90k base, 50-70 bonus; VC comp was 100-120K base, 20-30 bonus;

I figured the role would help me build my skill set, grow my network, and if I performed good things would come my way; Looking at comp was too shortsighted. I now have a friend at nearly every VC fund (mostly early-stage and west coast), have a sophisticated understanding of the way VC works and the dynamics that drive deals and returns.

I left the VC firm a few months ago on my accord to try an idea I was excited about. The idea failed to pan out and my partner and I went separate pays. I'm still on great terms with my old team, but I don't think I'd be happy to re-join them.

I'm now trying to figure out what to do next. On one hand, I've really enjoyed the entrepreneurial nature and autonomy of VC, meeting amazing entrepreneurs, and the high-risk aspect of VC; On the other hand comp is very important to me and I feel like VC just doesn't pay well at nearly all levels and that the type of investing you learn isn't really fundamentally driven -- its much more gut than science. In a little under 2 years I felt that I had learned what I could with the team and all the incremental learning was going to come from looking at more deals and seeing how those progress over time.

I'm looking around at my friends and seeing those in PE/HF roles consistently pulling down $500k+ and I'm starting to feel like I've made a mistake and that I'm falling behind as my comp hasn't really increased meaningfully from banking.

I've started to think more and more about growth equity, private equity, and even HFs, but I don't know whether or not that's even realistic given that my network and skill set is most immediately transferable to other early stage firms.

One thing that really struck out to me was a lot of the VC firms out on the west coast think about VC in a square box and aren't as opportunistic as they could be. There are a handful of firms that are changing the model and are extremely opportunistic in how they look to generate returns outside of their original mandate, more Wall St, than Silicon Valley. I realize that I want to be somewhere where the goal is to generate max returns and the team is fully invested and on board to make that happen.

Factors that are important: Responsibility, autonomy, ability to contribute to investment decisions, compensation, geography (lived on the west coast with the VC firm, but now living in NYC and want to stay here as most friends and family are here), experience and learning trajectory.

I know this post is a bit open-ended and starting to get long, but I guess what I'm looking for is some feedback and help brainstorming etc in terms of thinking what roles or opportunities could be a good fit for me. I've started to apply to some VC roles and I'm getting serious consideration, but to be candid, I'm not too excited about any of them.

I'm uncertain about B-school, I'd prefer not to go if I had the choice.

I'm happy to answer any questions about VC, west coast, tech, etc and unpack other items

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