When Opportunity Knocks

Brooke VanSant
4 min readSep 13, 2021

Tomorrow morning I will start my first job out of college as an associate at a venture capital firm based in Folsom, CA. I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to work with Moneta Ventures. VC is a hard industry to break into, especially right out of college, and will teach me many valuable hard and soft skills. Moneta’s team is top-notch. Everyone is hard working, intelligent, and genuinely kind — a rare combination.

A year ago, venture capital wasn’t a career I was thinking about pursuing. It wasn’t even on my radar. I was an economics major interested in international development and had just accepted an offer to return full-time to Cisco after I graduated. How do I now find myself one day away from launching a career in venture capital? I followed three basic principles.

First, always do your best and be kind.

I have always been a good student. I credit this more to my work ethic than my intelligence. I’ve gotten jobs as a waitress, zip line guide, student assistant, and now venture capital associate because friends and colleagues have recommended me as someone that works hard and is also kind.

In group projects my goal has always been to be someone my team members would like to work with again. That goal is two-pronged. I have to perform my tasks well to lead to a successful outcome for the project and I have to interact with my team members in a respectful and compassionate way. While there are many things outside of my control that affect the outcome of a project, I firmly believe that I can always control my level of effort and how I treat other people.

It was never my goal to gain a reference from my business capstone class, but it was a team member from that quarter-long group project who won me an introduction to a managing partner at Moneta. I did nothing special in that group project other than put in my best effort and be kind to my teammates.

Second, follow your passions.

I decided to study business at Santa Clara University because I had (and still have) a deep desire to help people around the world improve their lives through the power of business.

Santa Clara has several programs and centers dedicated to this mission. During college, I visited Rwanda to study social entrepreneurship, took an extra class to work with a small business owner in San Jose, spent a summer in Bangalore working at a social impact consulting firm, and gave up an internship with JP Morgan to participate in a 9-month intensive fellowship consulting with an affordable housing company in Kampala, Uganda. I never made the choice to pursue one of these experiences purely because I thought it would look good on my resume. I was excited for each and every experience because it aligned with my personal sense of purpose.

There have been a number of times where I have been tempted to choose an internship, experience, or job that would help me become “successful” in a traditional sense. Luckily, I’ve been blessed with a number of amazing mentors who have reminded me that if I’m succeeding in an area I have no interest in or passion for, I’m not succeeding at all in the long run. If you are working hard and treating other people well in an area that you love, you will end up in the right place.

Third, keep an open mind.

When the opportunity to start talking with Moneta came up, I didn’t just dismiss it because I hadn’t been considering a career in venture. I kept an open mind and thought through the new possibility. Now, looking back at my college experiences and looking forward to the impact I hope to create throughout my career, I’m confident that Moneta is the right place for me.

There is one common thread with the assorted jobs, internships, and fellowships I’ve had in the past. I’ve always worked with entrepreneurs. This has prepared me to start working in the VC world and has also opened my eyes to the fact that many entrepreneurs need outside business expertise and funding in order to succeed. Working with Moneta will allow me to create tremendous impact by supporting early stage entrepreneurs. The companies I’ll have the opportunity to work with will create jobs in the United States and around the world. They will improve the way companies get work done. They will help people think differently and live better.

Though I didn’t expect working in venture capital would align with my passion for social impact, keeping an open mind when the opportunity arose has helped me position myself to create more impact than I previously would have been able to.

As I excitedly prepare for my first day as a venture capitalist, and reflect on the path I took to get to this point, I want to extend an open invitation to anyone considering a career in venture or social impact. Reach out to me at Brooke@moneta.vc. I would love to chat!

--

--

Brooke VanSant

Santa Clara University 2021 // Global Social Benefit Fellow// Leavey School of Business