Some advice for students that want to work at a VC firm

Increasingly I’m meeting students in undergrad that want to be a work at a venture capital firm one day.

It’s interesting to me because I didn’t know what a VC was until after I got out of college and well into my first job (which was VC backed). 

Yesterday, I was at Angel Bootcamp. The organizer, @jonpierce, did something different this year. In addition to investors and aspiring investors, he opened it up for a select number of entrepreneurs and students as well. Great idea.

So yesterday, I met another student who came up to me at the break and told me about his desire to be a VC someday and asked how to do it. He seemed quite passionate about it.

The best advice I could come up with at the time was to get involved in the startup scene while he’s in college. Reach out to startups early on and see if you can help them somehow. Maybe it’s giving them constructive feedback about their product, or the market, or some other insight. Building relationships with founders is critical. 

The other thing is to start to get to know VCs and angel investors by doing exactly what he did yesterday. Go to events and be fearless. Introduce yourself to strangers in a respectful way and make connections. Angel investors and VCs are much easier to reach these days than ever.

Then once you make a connection, send them your thoughts about important trends and new startups. Evaluate products before they hit the market or just as they hit the market. Write a blog post about why you think the idea is impactful, disruptive or otherwise. Don’t want to write a public post? Fine, send a personal email to your angel and VC connections with the same insight. Find students at your college that are building products. Help them out. Get involved. When the time is right (and with their permission) introduce those founders to your VC and angel connections with your thoughts on why the idea is powerful.

If it ends up leading to an investment, you have created tremendous value to the founders and the investors. And even if it doesn’t lead to an investment, your insight, dedication and judgement will make you stand out. People will take notice and you’ll come out of college with an amazing running start. 

Its hard to get a job at a VC firm right out of college (or anytime frankly). Most likely the first stop will be at a tech company – either big or small. But you can always keep those connections you made during undergrad alive and well.