July 3, 2024

Venturing VC As A Student

Jennier Li
Venturing VC As A Student

So You Want to Break into VC as a Student? Here's How.

The world of Venture Capital (VC) can seem glamorous. You get to be at the forefront of innovation whilst backing exciting startups with the potential to change the world. But how do you, as a student, even get your foot in the door?

Helena Li, a Doctor of Medicine Student at the University of Melbourne and Investment Banking Winter Analyst at Macquarie Group

Let’s dive into the world of VC internships by exploring Helena Li's journey - a fourth-year medical student who recently landed an internship at Rampersand, a seed-stage VC firm.

Q: What are your top tips for landing a VC internship?

  1.  Engage in self learning

VC firms seek candidates with a solid understanding of the industry. You can do this by diving into resources like books, articles, podcasts, and online courses on VC, finance, and investing. Understanding how startups are sourced and achieve market traction will also equip you to answer technical interview questions.

Bonus tip! Joining a student-managed investment fund, like NextGen Ventures, provides hands-on experience in sourcing and analyzing investments. These funds often host events with actual VCs, offering invaluable networking opportunities that can give you a leg up in the competitive VC landscape.

  1. Leverage your interest and passion in the interview

“Because I'm strongly interested in business, when I had time off from medicine I would put that time into my business, whether it was learning or having coffee catch-ups with people.” - Helena Li.

While experience is coveted, a genuine passion for startups and VC is what will sustain your investment. Helena emphasised that students should definitely attend pitch nights, write their own investment memos, stay up-to-date, and share their own thoughts about the topic on social platforms.

Landing a VC internship requires proactive searching beyond traditional job boards. Being active in startup and VC communities and cold emails are a great way to find the hidden opportunities.

  1. Reach out and grow your network

Networking isn't just about building relationships with stakeholders, it's about leveraging your connections. A strong network can open doors, introduce you to important people in the VC world, and even connect you directly with the interviewer at your dream firm.

Pro Tip: Creating your own content can significantly expand your reach, attracting the right people with similar interests.

“Once I started working in VC, Rampersand was really good in supporting me writing my own content. I [wrote] articles about why I've gone to VC and that helped me to get organic reach. My network grew a lot that way and ever since then I think the network effect just snowballs, once you have a little bit and people know that you're interested in the field.” - Helena Li.

Establish a personal brand. Sharing your own thoughts and writing original posts will definitely help. But it's not just about creating content – it's about being interactive, too. Reposting, using relevant hashtags, and commenting on content from other people all play a part. The key is to be intentional with the ideas you choose to share and make your voice heard in the conversation.

  1.  Leverage and “own” your unconventional background and story

Don't underestimate the power of your unique background in the competitive world of VC! 

“Your unconventional path can set you apart.”

Recruiters will be eager to understand your journey and how it fueled your passion for VC. Honing your ability to tell your story in a compelling way should be a top priority for your interview prep.

Q: What kind of thinking and skills is needed to be a great hire for a VC?

“The number one thing for me is analytical skills. Number two, is emotional intelligence”. - Helena Li.

Developing strong analytical skills, like critical thinking and data analysis, is key in VC, and you can hone them through listening to startup pitches, forming investment opinions, writing memos, and seeking feedback. 

However, emotional intelligence is equally as important. It allows you to connect with people, build relationships, and source deals – all essential for success in the VC world.

Interview Tips!

Helena emphasised the importance of perseverance and continuous learning during the interview process:

  • Seek Feedback and Improve: Always ask for feedback after interviews, regardless of the outcome. Use this feedback to refine your skills and approach for future interviews.
  • Embrace Rejection as Practice: VC internships are highly competitive, so rejection is a natural part of the process. View each interview as a learning experience and a chance to hone your skills.

About the author

Jennifer Li, a BSc Neuroscience at the University of Melbourne and a Head of Customer Success at SANS TROU

Jennifer Li is a Neuroscience student at the University of Melbourne who has a strong passion for the world of business. Her involvement with the BusinessOne’s podcast allows her to engage in insightful conversations with founders and key figures within the startup ecosystem. But what truly ignites her interest is the human element of the startup community - their ambition to solve the problems, hunger for growth, whilst being humble and grounded people at the same time.

Join the HEX digital programs, HEX Degree Accelerator and HEX Career Accelerator, to learn about capital raising, pitching, mindsets and business models.

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