By Raza Jafri ‘15 (@raza_jafri)
A lot of people ask me how they can get a job in venture capital, a “name brand” startup, or a high-growth tech company. The short (and long) answer to all of these questions is networking, preparation, and lots and lots of patience.
Let’s tackle networking first. Networking is hard, it’s time consuming, and frankly it’s the opposite of fun (the reason we are all here at Chicago Booth after all!). But networking is essential. Networking gets your foot in the door in notoriously MBA shy Silicon Valley. In fact, you can’t even really apply to Google without an internal resume submission (i.e., you have to know someone who knows someone). You want to work at Kleiner Perkins? Network. Snapchat? Network. Stripe? Network. Basically, if you want a tech job – network. There are a lot of strategies to become a better networker. A strategy I have found that helps is to have friends that are in the tech space make warm introductions to people in their networks for positions or companies I am targeting.
Preparation is self-explanatory. To get a tech related job, you must have more than an inkling about what the company does (not always easy in the world of tech buzzwords), how it makes money (or plans to at least), and who it competes with, etc. Remember, you are an MBA, so be sure to utilize some frameworks when discussing how the company can do X better, compete in Y market, or target Z customer. Focus your preparation by following VCs, startup CEOs, big company execs, tech reporters, etc. on Twitter*; reading blogs from startup CEOs and VCs; and keeping abreast of tech news via Re/code, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, etc.
Lastly, be patient – really, really patient. Your friends are going to have jobs and, let’s face it, will be out having frosty drinks somewhere in Chicago while you will be trying to make sense of Marc Andreessen’s latest Tweetstorm and sending your “warm” intro a third reminder email to respond. Fear not, tech recruiting is late blooming (everybody in tech is trying to change the world after all and can’t be asked to recruit MBAs), sporadic, and spread out over a long timeline.
A case in point is the story my old coworker likes to tell of his MBA classmates who waited for the “right” opportunity in the summer of 2012. Some ended up at fast growing startup Uber (approximate valuation in 2012: ~$300 million; now: ~$41 billion) – they are all paper millionaires now. Another one of his classmates joined a small messaging startup a couple of months after graduation that 18 months later got bought by Facebook for $19 billion (she was one of the 50 “lucky” employees at WhatsApp). The moral of these anecdotes is to stay patient and employ the Accel Partners strategy of a having a “prepared mind” with respect to recruiting – it will work out in the end.
* Follow Marc Andreessen (@pmarca) – thank me later.