From the first time I visited Fuqua in November of 2018, I knew that the community and network would be an important part of my MBA journey. I’ve previously worked in consulting and digital health startups, and I knew that the prospect of landing a career in venture capital (VC) was risky, given the limited job openings, the general competitiveness of the industry, and the independent and self-driven nature of finding a venture capital job in business school. But it was a risk I was ready to take.
I started to curate my venture capital network early and build investing experience. Prior to starting business school, I completed an internship at Coppermine Capital and spoke extensively with my previous employer, Ken Manning, a Fuqua alum and co-founder of Curaspan Health Group, who helped guide me through the business school application process. He continues to be a mentor to me today. Ken is an entrepreneur turned investor, and a long-time mentor to many.
At Fuqua, I continued to grow my venture experience through an MBA fellowship with Flare Capital Partners, an early-stage healthcare VC firm. I also took opportunities to supplement my coursework with Mentored Study and worked with Breakaway Ventures, a consumer-focused VC firm. Each opportunity furthered my learnings in venture capital and highlighted my commitment to the industry.
In late February of 2020, I was in final conversations for a summer internship position with several venture capital firms and high-growth startups. A few weeks later, with COVID-19 officially declared a pandemic, many of the firms I was interviewing with froze their hiring. I was fortunate to have participated in on-campus recruiting at Fuqua earlier that fall, and received summer internship offers from several companies. I accepted an internship at Cisco in their Product Management team focused on cloud partnerships.
My experience at Cisco was fulfilling, and at the end of the summer, I received a full-time offer. What an incredible opportunity. I reflected on my long-term professional aspirations and thought back to my initial goal in coming to Fuqua. I knew my passion was in venture capital, and was confident that my commitment to curating a VC network and gaining VC experience gave me the foundation I needed. It was a difficult decision, especially since I did not have any venture prospects, but I ultimately decided to decline the Cisco job offer.
I started the recruiting process again and leveraged every possible resource at my disposal with my Fuqua and Duke network, spearheading many of my conversations. My days were packed managing my next Mentored Study project with Radix Health and Cohere Health, continuing to take a full course load, and scheduling at least one venture capital conversation a day. It was all a rush, and very exciting.
And it all paid off. I earned a full-time offer to join Sandbox Industries / Blue Venture Fund, a health care venture capital firm. My dedication, commitment, and support from Fuqua, including the faculty who helped to expand my investment skills and knowledge, my classmates who helped me prep for interviews, and the support and backing from the entire Fuqua community, resulted in me reaching my goal.
My advice to anyone who may face a similar dilemma is the following: stay true to your goal. Know your worth. Stay Hungry. Take Risks. And know that it will all work out.