Last week I posted about the 10th annual Columbia Business School West Coast Venture Capital Trek in SiliconValley and SF. More details here.
Most of our gracious hosts spent some time advising us on how to get smart, get noticed and get a job in VC. I took copious notes, asked clarifying questions and distilled everyone’s advice on a few topics down to a few key takeaways in hot areas.
Each individual investor gave us sound, specific, logical, rational advice on how to find a job. The thing is, each of them also had their own distinct take on the question, and their answers often directly contradicted with someone else’s. At the end of the week I came away with a long list of conflicting, confounding, inconsistent advice.
So that’s what this is: a crowdsourced – and clearly contradictory – set of opinions from the best investors in the world on how to get a job in VC:
1) Establish an Online Identity by Blogging, tweeting, etc: This can be a super-efficient way to show that you’re serious about venture. But, no offense- nobody reads these things anyway, so your time is much better spent elsewhere. But it’s a great way tosignal to the market that you have a point of view, so definitely keep ablog. But I’d rather see you be heads downresearching an industry or sector at 11pm than trying to get noticed by Marc Andreessen. But then again, it’s a good, easy way for someone to “check a box” when background checking you, even if they don’t read it.
2) Make Some Real-world Connections at Conferences: Don’t go; it’s a waste of your time and money. But definitely go because a good conference could be a great way to “hang around the hoop” and remind people who you are and what you’re up to. But all of the content is online anyway, so your time is better spent elsewhere. But if you are good at making impressions on people in a short period of time, events can be high impact.
3) Network with Investors: Make fewer, more authentic connections rather than just keeping a massive spreadsheet and contact log with every investor contact. But you should definitely approach networking with structure- you should keep a massive spreadsheet with every investor contact and make sure you leave no stone unturned. But you will ultimately get your job from one of your strongest connections, so focus on cultivating those few, strong advocates. But you never know who’s hiring for what and when, and there are so few jobs, that it’s irresponsible not to try to meet everyone. But investors will see through it if you cold email them during your last semester of school asking for a coffee. But investors are definitely always looking to meet smart (assuming you’ve done your homework), proactive, hungry people, whether they’re hiring or not so you should definitely cold call and ask to get coffee.
More specific, actionable, albeit conflicting, advice coming in Part 2. I’ll get into the details about finding, researching and sharing deals.