How I Got the job in venture capital

Matt Rabb explaining how he got job in venture capitalMy career path has been rather uncommon, and highly dependent on personal relationships that I’ve forged throughout my adult life. I’ll give my best advice upfront: treat people well and be genuine.

I attended Northwestern University where I studied film (major), business (minor), and psychology (minor). I was interested in the business side of the entertainment industry because I did not see myself as “creative” at the time but still enjoyed television / film, and wanted to spend my career in an industry that I actually found interesting. After graduating, I moved to Los Angeles without having a job secured. I previously had phone calls with many people in the entertainment industry and all gave me the same advice: if you want an entry-level job in entertainment in LA, you have to be here. For two months, I took as many informational meetings as I could line up and applied to every entry level job I could find online. Eventually, my roommate Meredith (a friend of mine from Northwestern) passed along a job listing that she found while working at a talent agency. The position was for an Executive Assistant in Brand & Franchise Management at Twentieth Century Fox Television, one of the leading producers of scripted television in the world. I edited my resume to fit the description as perfectly as possible, and Meredith submitted it for me. This led to in-person interviews with the three members of the department I would be working closely with. Beforehand, I studied the studio’s history and content, along with the backgrounds of each person I would be interviewing with. Further, I wrote out lengthy answers about my perspective on various topics within the entertainment industry. Because of this, I was confident during my interviews and had good discussions with each of the interviewers. I received an offer for the job the next day.

After a year and a half, some lucky timing meant that the position above me (Analyst) was vacant, and I was promoted. In this role, I reported to one of the executives that I previously assisted, Mark. I became more involved in the finance and strategy of the studio, taking the opportunity to learn as much as I could and meet people throughout the wider corporation, 21st Century Fox. I also worked closely with a colleague named Jordan, whom I enjoyed discussing technology and the ever-evolving entertainment ecosystem with. I served in this position for a couple of years before having a bit of a personal crisis of meaning (what is my mission / meaning in life?!) and quitting my job to backpack through Europe for four months.

I had a wonderful perspective-enhancing journey and returned to the U.S. without a job. I began my new job search focused on companies that I wanted to work for and reaching out to friends in positions to give advice. One opportunity that I found was part of a new division of 21st Century Fox, called the Digital Consumer Group. This group was focused on technology and investing in the future of distribution. I already knew one of the employees in the group thanks to my previous experience within the company, and also reached out to my former supervisor Mark, who put in a recommendation for me. These two people were key to landing me the job after having been unemployed for 8 months.

When I was 9 months into this new role, Jordan (whom I previously worked with), reached out to me about a new opportunity. He had since had a successful stint in venture capital and was launching his own fund with a partner named Eric. Since we had previously worked closely together and discussed our views on various technologies and their implications, he thought I may be a good addition to the team. We set up a video interview with Jordan, Eric and I. Since I had no formal venture capital / investing experience, I heavily researched the industry to understand the basics. To be honest with you, the call went just OK. Afterwards, I definitely felt I could have prepared more thoroughly and performed better. However, they decided to give me a project to work on anyway. I was determined to nail the project and skipped the next day of my actual job (shhh!) to spend the day on it. I sent the project back a day and a half after it was assigned and shortly received positive feedback on it. I was offered my current role as an Associate at Sinai Ventures a couple days later.

If it wasn’t for Meredith, Mark, Jordan, and many others, I simply would not have had the opportunities that I’ve had in my short career. Part of my decision to leave the comfort of my first job and backpack through Europe was to prove to myself (and others), that there is no “right” career path, and that you don’t need to play by the rules that society sets (e.g. climbing the corporate ladder). People and relationships are the most important things in my life, and for every relationship that I’ve invested time, energy, and honesty in – I’ve received immense benefits in return. While my career path may be hard to replicate or take specific advice from, I do believe that it highlights the value in investing your time and energy in cultivating authentic and genuine relationships with people.

Learning: I listen to many podcasts focused on investing, venture capital, and startups (Startup, The Pitch, 20 Minute VC, Angel, How I Built This). I’m always reading physical books, and my favorite non-fiction, business-focused author is Adam Grant (Originals, Give and Take). I also read the personal blogs of many successful venture capitalists to gain an understanding of how they view the world. My all-time favorite blog for learning is Tim Urban’s Wait But Why.

Mike Raab lives in San Francisco where he is an Associate at Sinai Ventures, a $90M venture capital fund. He previously spent five years in Los Angeles, serving various roles at 21st Century Fox focused on digital TV strategy. Mike is originally from Chicago and graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in TV / Film, Business, and Psychology. He also enjoys writing on his personal website, The Raabithole.

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