Category Archives: career

Career Choices

Since I’ve had some time off, I’ve been thing about career choices lately.  I’ve always thought that it was important to find a job that you enjoyed, but lately, I’ve begun to question this notion.  I’m starting to think that it’s more important to find a job that you can be really good at.  I realize that enjoyment and proficiency often go hand-in-hand.  How can someone be really good at anything if they don’t enjoy doing it, right?  However, correlation does not always equate to cause and effect.

After reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, my perspective has changed a bit.  In Outliers, Gladwell suggests that people start to enjoy doing something once they get good at it.  Like playing a musical instrument, you don’t really enjoy it until you get proficient.  If anything, if you’re good at a certain type of work, it should give you more time to do what you enjoy outside of work.

All Good Things Must Come To An End

As I’ve mentioned previously, the venture industry is undergoing a contraction period. Unfortunately, the venture fund that I’ve been working at for the past two years has not been immune to the current trend.

It is with great sadness to have to leave the fund. It’s been a wonderful experience working in venture. I’ve met a ton of very smart people and learned a lot about emerging technologies and markets.

Unfortunately, it’s a tough time for the venture industry as a whole, and I believe a very difficult time for life sciences investors in particular. While a ton of innovation still exists, healthcare reform and regulatory headwinds have made early-stage life sciences investing more risky. I believe the pendulum will eventually swing back the other way, but it’s hard to say when it will at the moment.

VC Career Advice

I’ve been talking recently to a number of people interested in pursuing a career in VC. It’s really difficult to offer any good advice as to the best way to become a VC because there are a number of different paths to choose from. VCs can come from investment banking, management consulting, start-ups, big corporations, etc. There is no “typical” career track to follow to break into VC.

With a very limited number of openings each year and many qualified applicants, VC firms can be very picky in their hiring; most VCs working in life sciences have either an M.D. or Ph.D., and several have an M.B.A. in addition to the other degrees. As the VC industry contracts (see figure below, source: WSJ), there will be even fewer positions available.

While there’s no guarantee of landing a job, I believe the Kauffman Fellows Program is a good way to get your foot in the door. Search firms, such as Glocap, Pinnacle Group, and Polachi, might also be helpful.

I’d like clarify a misconception that some people might have about being a VC. I absolutely love my job, and I’m very fortunate to work with very smart, stimulating people. It’s a lot of fun meeting entrepreneurs with really interesting ideas about solving the world’s problems. There is no such thing as a perfect job though, as every job has its pros and cons, and being a VC is no different. Let me know if there are any jobs out there that will pay you to sleep with models (j/k). While it may appear that being a VC can be somewhat glamorous and lucrative, it is definitely not always the case; especially if you’re not a partner. I rent a one-bedroom apartment and lease my car. I have about $35K remaining of almost $100K in student loans to pay off. I am by no means poor, but my life is not very extravagant either. I believe most VCs who aren’t partners live relatively modest lifestyles.

Even if you overcome the odds and land a position, the probability of becoming a partner is relatively low. With fewer firms remaining, there are even fewer partner positions available. Ultimately, “you eat what you kill” in this business, and if my investment decisions result in poor returns, I won’t survive in this business for too long.

Check out John Gannon’s VC Career Resource page for more information.