If your heart is set on getting a job in Biotech VC, you should know what it is you’re getting into.
Here are some tips from multiple biotech VCs about how to get a biotech VC job.
Advanced degrees: Necessary, but not sufficient to get a biotech VC job
Many biotech VC’s in junior roles at a firm have MD’s or PHD’s, and potentially an MBA. Most successful candidates also have extensive work experience in the life sciences. Common feeder sectors are:
- life science consulting
For example, Jamie Kasuboki, Senior Director at Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund, got his PhD and ran two postdocs before finally breaking into venture.
While studying he was constantly networking, taking internships, and consulting for VC’s part-time.
Even then, breaking in was not a sure thing.
As Jamie said:
My advice would be to build a solid scientific foundation, and the reality there is simply that there is no way to go about shortcutting that experience.
Experience required to get a biotech venture capital job
Cornelius Diamond, President of Prediction BioSciences, notes that many Biotech VC’s come from Emergency Medicine, Cardiology, or Oncology – the latter two of which take 15 years of your life to break into and are far better compensated than Biotech.
He also notes other biotech career paths – like starting your own drug development company – have the potential to be more lucrative, albeit with more risk.
Due to those factors, Cornelius feels some may be better off pursuing an ‘Entrepreneur in Residence’ type role with a Biotech VC firm, so as not to sacrifice years of work for a job which – at least in the short term – won’t bring them close to their true earning potential.
He also said that besides emergency medicine, internal medicine has become a popular choice for those on the VC path. After all, it feeds directly into cardiology and oncology fellowships which can help them break into the business later on.
Opting out of medical school residency to get a biotech venture capital job
Aaron Bholé, an MD Candidate at Sidney Kimmel Medical College, let us know that for medical students with VC on their minds, participating in a residency program may not be the best career move.
Because internal medicine (like residency) is itself a multi-year commitment. For those who know that they eventually want to move into biotech VC – or even for those who think they might want to – spending additional years on a residency becomes a hard sell.
For example, nearly 40% of Stanford’s MD class opted out of doing a residency — perhaps as a result of their exposure to more entrepreneurial thinking than their peers.
This trend runs alongside another important one — that 5-year MD/MBA programs have increased in popularity, graduating around 100 MD/MBA candidates each year according to the AAMC. In these programs, most students attain their MBA’s within their 3rd and 4th years. This gives them an exit opportunity (e.g. via a summer internship) before they graduate with an MD.
How To Get Biotech Venture Capital Jobs in the UK
Anu Adebajo, who’s an Investment Manager at British Patient Capital, shared a few of her insights with us surrounding the types of candidates Biotech VC’s are looking to hire across the pond.
According to her, most biotech venture capital firms tend to recruit PhD-level candidates. The justification for this tendency is that the ability to identify promising drugs can’t be taught — and needs to be developed through many years of hands on experience in the field.
However, Biotech venture capital funds that focus on medical devices tend to be less focused on candidates with advanced degrees, as investing in that sector does not require as deep of a scientific academic background.
That said, she told us most VC’s don’t really recruit at the junior level until Fund II or III. And even then, most of these candidates will come from a life-science field or have a deep understanding of the science necessary for the position prior to joining.