Day in the Life of a VC

When I started interning at I2A Fund in the Spring of 2012, I tried to take on as much responsibility as possible.  I’ve done a lot of menial tasks in my life, from stuffing envelopes in political campaigns to couriering packages at my internship at Time, Inc, and (as noted in my last post) I had a chip on my shoulder….I thought I was too good for those tasks.  I was wrong.

I can’t remember who taught me this piece of advice, but when I was in my teens, someone told me that the trick to longevity at a job, promotions and overall success was “making yourself indispensable.”  What that means at every organization is different, but what I realized after a week at I2A Fund was the extraordinary level of scheduling complexity and busyness during any given day.  A lot of entrepreneurs and aspiring VCs simply don’t understand the makeup of a day in the life of a VC.  Below is the schedule from an “average” week of one of our partners:

Ever wonder why VCs take a couple of weeks to get back to you?  Maybe you’re thinking to yourself – “well, he’s got some free blocks in there…I work a 8-7 so my day is just as busy.”  The difference is that at a normal jobs, you actually get time to “work.”  You know, like do some research, read through some analysis, do some writing.

In this partner’s case, he’s responsible for half a dozen board obligations, he’s trying to close a deal, he’s working on getting our annual letter finalized and out to LPs, he’s helping portco’s hire, continuing to network.  Oh, and he gets 100-200 relevant e-mails per day.  How long does it take you to respond to an e-mail?    30 seconds?  2 minutes?  That’s 1.5-3 hrs/day of responding, assuming 1 minute/e-mail.  And don’t forget that some e-mails, many e-mails, require a lot of thought.  Oh not to mention, that partner might have a wife/husband, kids, some hobbies?  It’s not’s easy being a VC.

If you are fortunate enough to land an internship, associate level role, or even higher at a VC, or heck, literally any role at a startup, this is the understanding you need to have when you enter.  From the moment you enter the door, you need to be focused on: “how do make other people’s lives easier?  How do I reduce some of their workload?”  And then you just start doing it.  You don’t ask “can I transcribe your notes to our CRM?”  You just go and do it.  You take notes, then you circulate a doc and say – “let me know if this helpful.  Open to any feedback.”

If they don’t like the notes, you find something else.  You take initiative and put together a graphical report of deal flow, or of portfolio diversification, or of the strengths/weaknesses of different companies.  You just start doing things without being asked.  The truth is that busy people are terrible at delegating jobs because it simply takes too much time/effort.  Which is why VCs/Startups like to hire people who can show they do things – the right things – without being asked.

Be a self starter.  Always be thinking about how do I make X or Y’s life easier.  How do I add value?  That is how you make yourself indispensable.

About the author

Ezra Galston
Ezra Galston

Consumer focused hustling @Chicago Ventures, Young Entrepreneur @Foundation Capital, Class 18 @Kauffman Fellow, and Chicago Booth MBA. Former professional poker player, with 4 years experience doing marketing/biz dev in the online gaming industry. Launched a "poker hedge fund" in 2011, a record label in College, and produced a festival screened short film in 2006.

  • Raj

    One of the best posts I have come across….couldn’t agree more that the trick in making yourself indispensable is not just doing an outstanding job on those tasks that are delegated to you but finding the areas where you add value without needing to be asked

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