Mentoring Forward with Jessica Yi of Norwest Venture Partners

Mentoring Forward - Venture Forward series

Welcome to our Mentoring Forward series! We’re highlighting an incredible group of mentors and the positive impact the VC University Mentorship Program has had on VC University scholarship recipients. Since launching in 2020, the Mentorship Program has had four cohorts with a total of 121 new and early career VCs from historically underrepresented backgrounds, each who have been paired with one experienced VC mentor and one peer VC mentor. Thanks to these mentors, we are working together to create a more inclusive and diverse VC community.

Jessica Yi is a proud three-peat Peer VC mentor in the VC University Mentorship Program. Read more below about why this is an important program that she supports. 

Jessica Yi, Principal, Norwest Venture Partners

Jessica Yi - Mentoring Forward

Why is mentorship important in VC and why did you want to serve as a mentor?

I have received help every step of the way on my path to VC, so I wanted to give back. There are many different ways people end up in VC – unless you know people already in the industry, it can be difficult to know how to get there yourself. Mentorship remains valuable even after becoming an investor yourself. Like most jobs, VC is a nuanced career with no obvious steps from one level to another as you progress. Having peers and more senior mentors around you can help you think through the various challenges ahead.

How did you support your mentee?

It was mainly through three ways: 1) sharing my experience, especially my recruiting process and what we look for as someone on the other side of recruiting; 2) becoming a soundboard for my mentees and helping brainstorm with them; and 3) providing intros to other people where I could.

What did you think were the best aspects of the mentorship program?

I have really enjoyed meeting every single mentee through this program – each person was someone I would have wanted to know outside of the context of this program, so it’s great to have been matched so well. Since everyone’s motivation to join VC is different, I was able to think through the many aspects of my career as well, which was meaningful.

Mentorship programs are primarily thought of as helping the mentee, but did you (as a mentor) come away with any new insights or were there aspects that benefited you?

I am a peer mentor, which means I’m matched with people near my age and experience level. My conversations with my mentees always energize me because I admire everyone’s ambition. It motivates me to be reflect on what I wanted to learn in VC and hold myself accountable.

Why would you encourage your VC peers to serve as mentors?

Networking is a part of every VC’s job and serving as a mentor to the next cohort of upcoming VCs is an easy way to expand your circle. I have participated in the program for three cohorts in a row because I have found the experience valuable each time.

Get Involved

Volunteer as a mentor! Check out the program details and sign up by Friday, October 8.

The next round of this program starts in November for VC University ONLINE’s September Scholarship cohort. We’re seeking Experienced VC (5+ investing years’ experience, and Partner level or equivalent) and Peer VC (1-5 investing years’ experience) volunteers to serve as mentors. Pay it forward and join us in supporting the next generation of VC leaders!

Help us spread the word, so we can reach a strong pool of mentors. Here’s some sample content to use.