Breaking into the venture capital industry is notoriously hard. Top firms rarely post job openings on their websites and many enter the field only after a career elsewhere, providing them with track records as startup founders or execs at top tech companies.
But industry insiders say that it is also possible to land a coveted entry-level job and work your way up the ranks to a top investing partner.
And there are three easy things anyone can do today to begin to learn the ropes and improve the chances of landing such a job.
The tips come from recruiters at two top venture firms and a VC at Index Ventures, all of whom shared their advice at Business Insider's subscribers-only webinar this week on "How to land a job in venture capital," hosted by senior startups/VCs reporter Melia Russell.
The first recommendation is from Paula Judge, the head talent recruiter at Accel, a top venture firm which has funded tech companies like Facebook, Slack, Dropbox, and Spotify.
She says that anyone looking to become a VC should immediately find a company they like and start analyzing to determine if it is a company that would be a good investment. That company could be in a specific industry that you love, or the maker of an app or product you use daily. It could be a startup or a public company.
The point of the exercise, she says, is see if you actually like doing what VCs do every day and to practice deep dive research on things like business models and market size. If the research convinces you that the company is a worthy investment, the next step is to practice how to convincingly advocate for that investment to others.
"It gets you in the position of being able to articulate why it is you love such a thing," Judge said.
Honing that skill pays off when you meet and converse with VCs. It is especially crucial if such meetings lead to job interviews, where you'd be expected to know the ins and outs of every company you're presenting on.
"You don't have to be a venture capitalist the day you walk in the door," she added, referring to a job interview. "But if you're not consuming the information and able to draw your own conclusions and speak about it, then you'll probably have a tough time making that leap to what the job is."
Another easy step you can take right now is to start following prominent VCs on Twitter, says Mark Goldberg, a partner at Index Ventures, another top Silicon Valley firm.
Goldberg, who joined Index in 2015 after serving as an exec at Dropbox, says Twitter is the best platform for getting up to speed on the trends VCs are talking about, and therefore watching, in the startup industry.
He says finding and following just 15 VCs will get you started on the latest news in the startup world. That initial decision to fire up an account and following interesting investors, and possibly jump into discussions with them, could then serve as a starting point for developing your interests in particular companies and industries.
"Most VCs are somewhat vocal on Twitter. If you like what they're saying, if you want to build a relationship, that can be a really promising channel to start a conversation with someone individually," Goldberg added.
It can also be the place to spot those rare job postings for entry-level VC positions. 21-year-old Gaby Goldberg, for example, found an internship at Jeff Morris Jr.'s early-stage venture firm Chapter One when the investor posted the job opportunity on his Twitter feed, she told Business Insider. She's now an analyst at Bessemer Venture Partners.
The final piece of advice on things you can do right now that will help land a VC job comes from Jackie Xu, who's spent seven years identifying up-and-coming investors as a talent partner for Kleiner Perkins.
Xu said that now is a good time to reflect on how you've grown professionally in 2020 and what you learned about the business and startup worlds this year. From there, you can brainstorm the new skills you want in the coming year, as well as the opportunities you see on the horizon.
It's an exercise that Kleiner investors do for all of the firm's employees, as well as for its portfolio companies. Xu says it can be a great way to develop long-term career goals and figure out how best to achieve them.
"An easy thing to do at the end of today is to think about: what are the learnings, and then forward-looking for 2021, what are all the things that you want to gain, whether it's skillsets, companies you want to do research on, and kind of have that roadmap ready," she said.