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Wall Street To Venture Capital: How Hard Is It To Make The Switch?

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A venture capitalist who started her career on Wall Street talks about how and why she made the transition to seed stage investing, as well as what she found challenging and rewarding about the switch.

By Jessica Stillman (Editor, Women 2.0)

Think East Coast vs. West Coast and you’ll probably call up two very distinct images of the frenetic and shivering on the one hand and the tan and mellow on the other (hip hop fans may have other associations). But the distinct cultures of the coasts don’t just extend to fashion, music and sports, they also suggest very different career paths for the big brained and quantitatively gifted.

Wall Street, with its suits, shark tank reputation and hard-nosed obsession with the bottom line is a strong magnet in the East, while Silicon Valley draws talent west with hoodies, tech idealism and optimistic pursuit of hefty future payouts. What’s it like to move between these very distinct realms?

Renee DiResta, an associate at VC firm O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures who started her career with a seven-year stint as a Wall Street derivatives trader, explains in this video interview. She touches on her enjoyment of the more collaborative culture among investors, her struggle to master the softer skills at the heart of the people-driven VC business, and her efforts to come to terms with the lack of concrete data in early-stage investing.

Plus, she offers advice for women thinking of going into the VC industry, starting with the simplest but more powerful tip of the them all – apply!

Image courtesy of Flickr user Alex E. Proimos.

Jessica Stillman is a freelance writer with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She writes a daily column for Inc.com and has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM and Brazen Careerist, among others. Follow her on Twitter at @entrylevelrebel.

Women 2.0 readers: Have you gone from Wall Street to venture capital or startups? Let us know in the comments below.