February 23, 2014

Beller ’13: Undergrads Should Follow Passions

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By SCOTT GARTENBERG

Updated Wednesday

Though she has only been out of college for nine months, Morgan Beller ’13 has fully integrated into the workforce as a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, a venture capital firm based in Menlo Park, California.

Beller entered Cornell as a member of the Class of 2014, but graduated in 2013. On campus, she was involved in Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity and co-founded the PopShop, a student-run collaborative space for Cornell entrepreneurs.

Beller said her passion for venture capital stemmed from her experience at the TechCrunch Disrupt — a technology conference in New York City she volunteered at after her freshman year.

“That was my first exposure to the ‘tech world,’ and I became completely intoxicated,” Beller said.

Beller said she believes that success often depends on being at the right place at the right time — and that meeting the right people is essential to forging ahead with one’s career.

“At the conference, I was fortunate enough to meet [a Board Partner] from High Line Venture Partners,” Beller said. “Ten minutes after meeting her, I received an email with the subject, ‘You’re hired.’ I spent the next ten months working for High Line, both directly at the fund an in-house at some of their portfolio companies.”

After interning at the Cornell Tech campus the summer after her sophomore year, Beller realized she wanted to work in venture capital. However, there were few venture capital jobs offered straight out of school, she said.

“I came back in the fall determined to get a job in venture … but then it hit me. Maybe there is a reason why there are only eight jobs,” Beller said. “I actually wrote off going into venture after school and put it on the long-term agenda.”

“Do what you love. You’ll be happier. You’ll be better at it. And you won’t have any regrets.”

— Morgan Beller ’13

Beller worked at eBay last summer as a product manager and received an offer to join their corporate development team immediately after. Though she planned to return to Cornell for a Masters in Information Science, the business relationship she made with the partner from High Line Venture Partners led to new career opportunities.

“I called [the board partner] to ask her opinion [about returning to school]. Five minutes later, my phone rang and it was a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz,” she said. “We had an interesting conversation that resulted in me coming in the next day for an interview and signing an offer a week later. I got really lucky. [I] happened to be at the right place at the right time.”

Beller said her enjoyment in what she does stems from three things she always looks for in a job: the people, the place and the role.

“I go into work every day and know that I am the dumbest person in the room,” Beller said. “I’m surrounded by the smartest people in the world. I jump out of bed in the morning and can’t wait to get to the office.”

Beller’s advice to current undergraduates is to study what they love. While one has their whole life to do work, there is a “short window” to learn “anything and everything” of interest to that person, she said.

“If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life,” Beller said. “Do what you love. You’ll be happier. You’ll be better at it. And you won’t have any regrets.”

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