In 2008 my partner Seth Levine wrote what I think is the definitive post about how to get a job in venture capital. His post followed an insightful earlier post of his that he wrote in 2005 titled how to become a venture capitalist. Each post is required reading for anyone interested in a job at a venture capital firm.
I get asked this question at least twice a week and use Yesware to send out an automated answer that includes a link to Seth’s post. Today, I noticed a new post from Alex Taussig (Highland Capital Partners) titled 3 ways to land a job in VC. It’s a good addition to the two posts that Seth previously wrote.
I always notice that the number of inquiries I get for jobs at Foundry Group increases in February and March as all the second year business school students in the US start looking for a gig. My advice – read the three posts and start your search a lot earlier.
Question: How would you describe VC firm’s efforts to connect firms in their portfolio with fresh MBA grads? Typical? Rare? Never? Im just curious because here in Philadelphia, First Round Capital is posting a lot of job offers for firms in its portfolio on their website, and I’m not seeing any other Philly VC firms doing this (at the moment). Im an MBA applicant at this point, and Im trying to size up my (realistic) career goals via an MBA in Entrepreneurial Management or some similar track.
This varies dramatically by firm and by school. Some venture firms do a good job of having dynamically updated job boards on their websites that list all open jobs by portfolio company. Some examples are us (Foundry Group), Union Square Ventures, First Round Capital (as you indicated), and Spark Capital. These job listings tend to be by company, role, and location – not by educational background.
Some firms actively engage with the nearby MBA programs through their entrepreneurship programs. This is especially true of places like MIT and Stanford, but equally likely at schools like University of Colorado and University of Michigan. While a lot of this is locally driven, some of this is alumni oriented (for example, see the trip that my partner Jason Mendelson and I made recently to University of Michigan, where’s he’s an alum.)
While I think MBA Entrepreneurship programs are fine, the bigger opportunity is to spend two years at business school actively engaging in the entrepreneurial community around the school you are going to. One of the big mistakes a lot of MBA students make is that they hang out at their business school waiting for all the entrepreneurial opportunities to come to them. The industrious (and entrepreneurial) students go out into the community and find the interesting stuff that’s actually going on.
I’d encourage you to ask the question directly to the school you are applying to. They should be in recruiting mode (for you as a student) and should be clear and effective about talking about entrepreneurial opportunities for you if you go through their program.
Bijan Sabet (Spark Capital) has the VC Post of the Day with Always be Recruiting. The best CEO’s I know are always recruiting, completely obsessed with building the best possible team, and tireless about meeting great new people that might some day be a fit for their company.
As a bookend to this, Eric Friedman (Union Square Ventures) has a great complimentary post titled How to get a job at a startup. In it he has some practical advice for anyone who wants to get a job at a startup.
As a special bonus today, Chris Dixon (Founders Collective) has an awesome post up titled What The NYC Startup World Needs (And Doesn’t Need). As someone who studies the idea of entrepreneurial communities and has worked hard at building one in Boulder as well as supporting other cities, I agree with everything Chris says in this post.