The 10 Best Venture Capital Fellowships

Venture fellowships are a great way for aspiring investors, entrepreneurs, and GPs to gain real VC experience while receiving mentorship, access to events, and a network of peers. Here are ten of the top ones.

Posted March 12, 2024

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What is Venture Capital?

Venture capital is one of the most common ways that early-stage companies get financing. VC firms provide capital to startups and other early-stage companies to help them grow. These kinds of companies are typically too new, and therefore too high-risk, to secure other types of traditional funding like bank loans.

Instead of requiring the startups to repay the capital given to them with interest, VC firms typically take partial ownership of the company, called an equity stake. In return, they get a say in the company’s strategy and decisions. Their end goal is to grow the company to a point where they can see large returns when it’s acquired or goes public.

Interested in VC? Read What is Venture Capital and How Does it Work? and Top Venture Capital Firms.

What are Venture Capital Fellowships?

Venture Capital Fellowships are entry-level apprenticeships where those interested in the field can learn the foundational skills that are required to succeed as a VC analyst. During the program, they will get to know founders, practice analyzing financial statements, run due diligence, support investment decisions, help full-time employees with portfolio companies, learn industry and market analysis, network, and gain practical experience.

Outside of work experience, fellows receive mentorship from investors and partners in the firm. Many also offer the chance to travel around the US to attend conferences in order to learn from top business minds and network. These experiences are incredibly valuable for a future career in venture capital.

The average length of fellowships varies but is typically between eight months and two years.

VC Fellowships vs. Internships: What’s the Difference?

Though alike in many ways, there are several fundamental differences between venture capital internships and fellowships.

  1. Fellowships focus more on professional development rather than work experience.
    Basically, where an internship is used to gain experience as a trial period for the after-college job search, fellowships are usually for those slightly more advanced in their careers. They are less integrated into the day-to-day life of an intern and are more focused on projects and other specific tasks.
  2. Fellows are almost always paid with a stipend.
    Many fellowships target post-college professionals and as such, are more generous with their pay than many internships that provide little to no pay in exchange for experience.
  3. Fellowships are more targeted toward the graduate and post-graduate levels.
    Not all fellowships, but most, require at least a bachelor’s degree and some even prefer a master’s or doctoral degree. Internships, on the other hand, are open to college and even high school students.

If you’re a college underclassman interested in VC, read this next: 8 Finance Internships for Freshmen in College (2022).

The Best 50+ Free Resources to Break Into Venture Capital

We've compiled the most comprehensive list of all the best resources to help you land a job in the competitive world in VC.

Tips for Breaking Into Venture Capital

VC fellowships can be extremely potent stepping stones for transitioning into a full-time role; however, venture capital is an increasingly competitive industry. Here are several tips for the application from one of our expert VC coaches that will help you stand out.

Build Context

What does this mean? Well, build a network, understand deeply the topics that matter to you, and know how the ecosystem works – the founders, early employees, the “joiners,” the operators, angels, investors, the press, etc. This skill can be built by following VC investors on Twitter, watching videos on YouTube, and listening to podcasts.

Work for Founders

Experience in startups is extremely valuable for VC. Through internships, or simply offering some time to friends/colleagues who are starting a business, you’ll see how an early-stage company operates from the inside.

Carve Out a Niche

There is no guaranteed formula for success in venture capital but the ingredients are relatively straightforward. Venture investors look for great companies, make the right investment decisions, and use their networks to win the best deals. If you don’t have those fundamental pieces, you will have a much harder time investing in great startups. If you’re brand new to VC, you may not have all three quite yet, but should actively work toward them.

Read more here: How to Get Into Venture Capital: Lessons Learned Interviewing 100+ Investors.

The Top 10 Venture Capital Fellowships

Pear Fellows

  • Founded: 2014
  • Based: Remote and San Francisco
  • Length: ~1 year
  • Who Can Apply: Students at Harvard, MIT, Penn, Berkeley, and Stanford
  • Applications Open: Fall, 2023

The Pear Fellowship is an apprenticeship designed to prepare ambitious individuals for a career in venture capital. It offers investor/partner mentorship, access to deals, in-person training at a San Francisco Venture Summit, and experience with due diligence and forming sector theses. It is very competitive with an acceptance rate of 5%.

See more here: Pear Fellows

Kauffman Fellowship

  • Founded: 1995
  • Based: Silicon Valley
  • Length: 2 years
  • Who Can Apply: Current investors or those with investing experience
  • Applications Open Fall 2023 (apply here)

For those with a little more experience in the VC world, the Kauffman program provides an excellent opportunity to further advance your career. It’s structured around a curriculum of seven modules. Each module is around three and a half days and is held once a quarter in the Bay Area, New York City, and other entrepreneurial city centers. The modules include discussions, fireside chats, panels, workshops, small group projects, and much more.

See more here: Kauffman Fellows

Included VC

  • Based: Remote
  • Length: 8 months
  • Who Can Apply: Aspiring venture capitalists
  • Applications closed for 2023, 2024 cycle TBD

This program is designed for ambitious individuals from diverse backgrounds who are entrepreneurial, passionate about technology, and fascinated by venture capital as a way to drive change. Fellows will go through a curated curriculum and receive over 4,000 hours of contact time through masterclasses, mentoring, executive coaching, deep foundational learning, simulation investment committees, and virtual retreats.

See more here: Included VC

.406 Ventures Student Fellows Program

  • Founded: 2005
  • Based: Remote
  • Length: 2 years
  • Who Can Apply: Undergraduate and graduate entrepreneurs with at least two more years left in school
  • Applications closed for 2023, 2024 cycle TBD

This program is for those who are actively building a company or want to start one. It provides real experience in the field along with a network of support. Each fellow will be part of a 15 to 20-person cohort with whom they’ll learn about VC and how to find their own funding. The program’s goal is to jumpstart these entrepreneurs’ endeavors by giving participants the opportunity to work alongside venture capitalists.

See more here: .406 Ventures

RippleX Fellowship

  • Founded: 2019
  • Based: Remote
  • Length: 12 weeks
  • Who Can Apply: Undergraduate and graduate students (or first-time founders)
  • Applications Close: July 21, 2023 (Apply here)

In this semester-long program, students will be put into cohorts with 24 others to learn the intricacies of startups and VC. The curriculum involves biweekly discussions, workshops with founders and investors, hands-on projects, and mentorship from industry leaders. The program is purely educational; students aren’t usually involved with due diligence or deal sourcing.

See more here: RippleX Fellowship

Land a VC Job With the Help of an Expert

If you’re looking or applying for venture capital roles, the best thing that you can do to make your application stand out is work one-on-one with a Leland coach. They’ll be able to provide expert and personalized guidance on networking, technical venture skills, interviews, and much more. Below are some of our top VC coaches, browse them all here.

Alumni Ventures Venture Fellow Program

  • Founded: 2014
  • Based: Remote
  • Length: 1 year
  • Who Can Apply: Individuals that are US-based, have a Bachelor’s degree, and aren’t investors in Alumni Ventures or its funds
  • Applications Open for January, 2024 cohort in Fall, 2023 (Register your interest here)

This program is part-time and is designed to provide real, hands-on experience to accelerate its fellows’ careers in venture capital. Participants will be directly involved in deal sourcing, diligence support, deal review, and more while working with other fellows and expert investors. No previous experience is required, applicants just need to have a passion for VC and the startup ecosystem.

See more here: AV Venture Fellow Program

Vectors Capital

  • Based: Remote
  • Length: 6 months
  • Who Can Apply: Angel investors, professionals, accomplished students (Ph.D., MBA, computer science or law) who are looking to work under the mentorship of seasoned VCs on deal due diligence, finance, operations, and fundraising.
  • Applications open Fall, 2023 for 2024 cohort

This fellowship is a great fit for those who want to obtain investing experience from the perspective of impact and global change, familiarity with VC-level due diligence processes and an opportunity to develop skills at the vector of sustainability and finance.

See more here: Vectors Capital Fellows Program

Venture Fellows Program

  • Founded: 1999
  • Based: Variable
  • Length: 1 year
  • Who Can Apply: MBA candidates
  • Applications Close: Rolling basis (Get access to the application or register your interest here)

This program connects MBA students with top private equity and venture capital firms around the US. Throughout the year, fellows will get experience with financial analysis, deal sourcing, and ops support as well as access to a network of industry leaders and successful entrepreneurs. Previous event speakers include the former Head of the NSA, GPs at billion-dollar funds, and founders of now-public companies.

See more here: Venture Fellows

Venture for America Fellowship

  • Founded: 2011
  • Based: Variable
  • Length: 2 years
  • Who Can Apply: Recent graduates (<3 years of full-time work experience)
  • Check back mid-July for info on applications for the Class of 2024

This fellowship prepares students for a career in entrepreneurship by matching them to a role at a startup. After they have found a role, the fellows will attend a month-long training camp. There, they’ll network with other fellows, learn how to succeed in startups, complete projects, and receive expert training. They will then transition into a full-time role at a startup for the next two years. Upon completion, Venture for America provides tools for those who wish to start their own company or take on a leadership position.

See more here: Venture for America

GGV NextGen Fellowship

  • Founded: 2021
  • Based: Variable
  • Length: ~3 Months (Summer)
  • Who Can Apply: Undergraduate students
  • 2024 Cycle Deadline TBD

The NextGen Fellowship gives college students a chance to experience high-growth tech companies. As part of the program, fellows are paired with a GGV-funded company and receive access to an entrepreneurship curriculum and mentorship. Throughout the summer, GGV hosts virtual events, Q&As, and webinars with industry leaders. The work is defined by the company and role but spans the areas of sales, finance, software engineering, and more.

See more here: GGV NextGen Fellowship

These fellowships are great opportunities but not an exhaustive list. Many times, there are fellowships at local or smaller funds that will provide you with the same skills. If there is a fund you aspire to work at that doesn't offer an official fellowship program, contact them! They may hire fellows in a more informal manner.

Interested in VC? Here are a few other articles you may find interesting.

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