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My experience as an 8VC Fellow

This summer I had the pleasure of being part of the third 8VC Fellowship cohort, joined virtually by 25 incredibly smart & talented students from across the country. The Fellowship Program offers an inside track to meeting world-class founders and engineers across the 8VC network as well as a deep look into the world of venture. The most important part of being a fellow is the work – 8VC Fellows spend their summers working on engineering and product at some of the fastest growing venture-backed companies in a wide breadth of industries and funding stages. Across the participating companies, there are opportunities in AI/ML (Nines AI, Ushur), APIs and infrastructure (Yugabyte, Nylas), biotech (Synthego), as well as in later-stage companies (Flexport, Wish, Asana), among many others. 

I spent my twelve weeks as a software engineering intern at Yugabyte, a fairly new addition to the 8VC portfolio that is enabling enterprises to transition away from their legacy source-of-truth systems. They are pioneers in the wave of NewSQL databases and are led by a group of fantastic technical entrepreneurs. For these reasons (and many more), 8VC led Yugabyte’s oversubscribed Series B earlier this year. To read more about my engineering work this summer, please feel free to check out this post on the Distributed SQL blog.

On top of the meaningful & high ownership work at a startup in the 8VC portfolio, the fellowship program offers scheduled programming to meet industry experts, entrepreneurs, and VCs. Through the course of the summer, our cohort got to hear from the founders of different portfolio companies including Socotra, Quaestor, and Nylas. Additionally, partners at 8VC speak to the cohort. Founder Joe Lonsdale spoke words of wisdom from his career as a serial entrepreneur, Kimmy Scotti educated us on consumer companies, Bhaskar Ghosh shed light on the world of engineering management, Alex Moore dove into why now is a great time to join a startup, and Francisco Gimenez & David Moskowitz shared deep insights into the future of biotech.

Now some of you all might wonder why you would intern at an early stage company over a big tech opportunity. On top of aforementioned reasons such as greater ownership of work and access to founders, the fellowship acts as a true differentiator here. In a traditional startup internship, the intern pool would be small and there would be minimal opportunities to network with other students. With the fellowship, you’re part of a group of amazing students from peer institutions that share common interests in entrepreneurship & tech – who knows, you could even meet your co-founder here! These conversations alone make the program worth it, especially in a post-COVID world where networking goes virtual.

As for me, I was able to get to know a group of great engineers from colleges across the country. I also was able to grow my network of mentors and learn from some of the smartest folks in the industry about their areas of expertise, regardless of whether I had any prior knowledge about the space. By the end, I’d solidified my understanding of startup team building, the enterprise SaaS landscape, and how the internals of venture work, amongst others. The Fellowship really excels at facilitating those teachings and conveying some of the intangibles that you’d have to go far out of your way to pick up in a standard technical internship. Furthermore, it’s really instilled in me the importance of learning by doing, and the fact that the best place to do so is at an early stage company. At Yugabyte I was able to own my project from end-to-end and have my hands in architectural design, product, and implementation. Having that extent of ownership would be rare at a big company but is fairly standard across opportunities in the portfolio!

Applications for the 2021 fellowship are open and more information about the program can be found here – feel free to contact me with any questions at vivek.gopalan@yale.edu.


Vivek is a member of the Summer 2020 8VC Fellowship cohort. He spent his summer as an 8VC Fellow interning at Yugabyte

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