Want to work in a VC? Here are 10 things that will help you get the right job.

Zuleyka Strasner
7 min readApr 11, 2018

For the last year I have been working as an Operations Manager at a reputable Venture Capital firm and have learned an incredible amount. I came to Silicon Valley having never worked at a startup and with little to no clue about VC. I just left my role after an intense year of learning and growth so I wanted to share my experiences and hopefully help others who are looking to move into the VC ops space!

Operations in VC generally relates to roles that are not directly involved in investing nor are they seen as a part of finance or legal counsel. These roles can encompass Chief of Staff and EA roles, portfolio support, deal pipeline management, general management, admin functions and more. Some refer to operations as strictly the day-to-day running of the office and Partner support, with portfolio support and talent management an altogether separate entity. For others, the lines are more blurred.

1. Use your network to help you find a role.

Many VCs do not advertise explicitly so you need to chase the jobs. Many VCs will often post on their Twitter (often on a Partners’ Twitter account and not necessarily on the VCs official pages), in blog posts or through word-of-mouth.

But this is elitist I hear you say? True, the closed doors of VC are a problem. But you may know someone who knows someone and so it goes.

If you do not know anyone who knows VC or even anyone in the finance sector or tech, trawling through Twitter, reading the right blog posts, engaging on social media and using LinkedIn will be your only way of doing it! Your network may themselves comes across a job posting through their social media. So just keep making noise that this is what you want.

2. Consider a boutique recruiter.

You have no in’s and you are struggling with social media. A boutique recruiter may be the answer. These boutiques are usually run by one or two highly experienced professional recruiters who specifically place candidates in VCs. Though I did not come through this route, I saw others who did.

You should be very particular about who you work with and remember they work for you as much as they work for the VC — guide them on exactly what you will, and will not, consider.

3. Have a stellar background.

This can come in all forms. You should generally be able to show that you have dealt with high-level operations in a recognized setting; a company or industry that is ideally tech but not necessarily; a political party, public or private sector, a respected space, or an organization known for its impact.

If you come from an unorthodox background, showcase why your background is relevant. If you do not have top-notch names under your belt, either acquire them and come back, or make sure that your narrative of transferable skills is easy to understand. If the VC is unfamiliar with a background like yours, the heavy-lifting is on you. I found VCs to be more open to various backgrounds than I first thought.

Many people have come from the EA route.

4. Show the impact of what you’ve done.

It is not enough to have a strong resume. You need to demonstrate that you thrived within these environments. You then need to show that within those said positions you went above and beyond. Show you were integral to the day to-day functioning of the company, team or high-profile individuals you supported. You need to show that you can think strategically, work well under pressure and have the ability to juggle competing priorities.

You should have worked in a functional role that enabled individuals, groups, communities, teams or people to do their job not only better, but to the fullest. You found new ways of doing things. You had your ideas actioned and recognized.

People management is not a must, but a history of direct reports will set you in good stead (this can counter the lack of a named school or a lesser known company). I previously had direct reports, but I find that a lot of people in these roles have not and it was not a barrier to their entry and success.

5. Reaffirm your greatness. Give specific examples.

VCs need greatness in their own people like they do in their companies; great people recognize great companies. Demonstrate that greatness comes in various forms and that you will be an A+ team member, not merely an A. Give specific examples, even if they are not explicitly asking for them.

I was insecure about my lack of tech experience. I went to Oxford, established myself in student politics, worked in frontline British politics and then educational policy. I always championed tech within the workplace and my passion was genuine and came across. I could hold my own.

I do not believe in “Fake It Till You Make It” but rather, “Show You Can Do It Before Being Given The Opportunity To Do So!” Faking it assumes you are making it up as you go along without any foundation or skills to do the job. You need to show that not only can you do the job, but you can do it better than anyone else out there.

6. Find a firm that will give you a seat at the table.

You will not learn if you are put in a box or kept out of sight. A seat at the table is not a seat at every table and there are meeting you will rightly not be a part of. But being part of team-wide meetings as they occur is important.

7. You need to be given the tools for success.

Ensure and establish those tools with the firm during the interview process and look for a VC where you can have a meaningful impact.

You need to be given the space and trust to do your job and you need to be included in decisions that affect the remit of your work. VCs have been blamed for being bad at developing people, so know what you need from them to grow and be honest about your expectations. You will be more successful if you make clear asks and draw out a pathway for yourself, keeping others around you accountable for helping you achieve the clear goals you have set for yourself. If you are confused about what you want, how can they possibly help you? But not knowing from the outset is okay; use the journey to forge ahead and find clarity.

8. Ensure the “right fit”

Seek to work closely with someone who respects your opinion and who you have an influencing relationship with. If you are taking an EA role, the expectation is not subservience, it’s leveraging. If you are taking a Chief of Staff role, understand how the role differs within the context of a VC. It is on the company to be honest, but it’s on you to grill them. Colleagues who you will be supporting won’t fully trust you from the outset, so initial chemistry is really important. Trust your gut instinct about their character — they may be great, just not the right match for your style, background and personality.

9. Show you have a genuine interest in tech, founders and company-building.

This is half the battle. If you seek out the stories of founders, how they tick and what makes them similar/different, then you are already halfway there. You might not know key people in the industry, but the more time you can spend obsessing over product, new companies, who is raising and what they have raised as well as keeping abreast of tech news so you know the names of a few key players, you will be well served. At the very least, be able to reel off apps you are currently obsessed with and apps you hate; be able to form and explain your thesis on what will happen with a said company, market or situation.

10. Show how you think through stuff and be passionate!

Dialogue helps not hinders — it is better than staying quiet for fear of sounding stupid. VCs care mostly for how a person thinks through stuff, not necessarily the product as it appears today. In short, VCs have foresight. If they have confidence in the thought-process and outlook of an individual, they can trust in how they will manoeuvre going forward and therefore the expectation is not perfection in the moment. I could not name more than 5 VCs when I started, but I was passionate about tech, product and how companies form and scale. I had opinions and they were grounded in clear argumentation and drew on data. I am a level-headed, calm and emotionally constant person who works off logic and strives for efficiency in all that I do; it was always important for me that this came across — assume nothing about how they are perceiving you.

And don’t be afraid to show your passion because this is where it counts!

If anyone else has their own unique experience or pointers, I’d love to hear them! Good luck to everyone on their VC Ops journey!



Zuleyka Strasner

Founder & CEO @zerogrocery_ | London —> Silicon Valley