Dennis Cherian, senior finance major at Villanova University, joined SCV late December as our first intern! We've had the pleasure of getting to know Dennis these past weeks over Zoom and email, but we spent the morning taking a bit of a deeper dive.
History lover, twin brother, and theater newb, Dennis comes to SCV with years of both internship experience and extracurricular activities under his belt. Starting at his local state senator's office in high school, Dennis moved up to the New Jersey Treasury Department, before heading to the White House his freshman year of college. Once he pivoted out of the public sector, Dennis worked at a boutique investment bank and a growth equity firm located near Villanova.
With a post-grad job with Boston Consulting Group already secured, Dennis has been able to spend his last few months at school exploring what else Villanova has to offer. In addition to his business classes, Dennis has dabbled in the arts — joining both drawing and theater classes!
So how did Dennis end up at SCV?
Let's find out!
Strategic Cyber Ventures: How did you get involved with SCV?
Dennis Cherian: I grew up helping my mom and dad at their tiny store in Philly, so I always knew that I wanted to work with young businesses someday. VC seemed like a natural fit. From there, I did some research into VCs that targeted sectors that I thought were exciting, and SCV stood out. I guess I should thank my lucky stars that a cybersecurity-focused venture capital firm was willing to answer an email from a stranger!
SCV: Were you interested in the cybersecurity space before joining SCV?
DC: I've always thought cybersecurity was really cool. It's in such high demand and it's going to become even more important going forward. I did not initially know a lot about it, and since I don't have a technical background, I knew I'd face a steep learning curve — but that's a good thing.
SCV: What do you hope to gain from your time with SCV?
DC: I'd love to see the entire deal process through from beginning to end. I've already seen pieces and that has been really exciting. Since joining SCV, I realized that the things you learn about venture capital in a textbook are so different from reality. There is a lot more complexity in the little details than I initially knew. Just being an eyewitness to the whole process is what I really want out of this experience. Plus I'm lucky that the SCVX SPAC component is so closely tied to SCV because now I get exposure to a really hot part of finance — that has been really cool too.
SCV: How has it been starting the job remotely?
DC: It was actually way more normal than I ever would have imagined. I've had the chance to get to know the whole team, which speaks to the smaller size of the company — it's easier for everyone to talk and grow closer. Based on what I've heard from peers in similar situations, I think a lot of workplaces did a good job transitioning. I also think finance in general might have an easier time shifting than some other industries.
SCV: What has it been like being a college student during the pandemic?
DC: Things are definitely different at Villanova — you can't hang out with your friends and you can't take advantage of Philadelphia being so close. But for the most part, I think students and faculty are trying their best to make this year as normal as they can, despite everything. I really have to appreciate them for that. One of the big differences for seniors is that the job market is weaker than it used to be. Recruitment has gotten a lot tougher for students who are still seeking jobs. Besides that, the college experience has still been good! I'm grateful that Villanova is in-person. A lot of schools aren't, which leads to a wider disconnect. At least here, we're wearing masks and we're being careful, but you get to be in some proximity to your friends.
SCV: So you've already landed a job at Boston Consulting Group (congrats!) — how are you going to spend your time post-grad before you start your job in September?
DC: Initially I was hoping to travel, but that's probably not going to happen now. So instead, I think I'll take some time to myself, read a lot, and also try and get some kind of job over the summer. Ideally I'd like a job where I can learn a lot, but also something that helps me prepare for life on my own by building some savings. That's the plan now — a little less exciting, but probably also more practical.
SCV: You mentioned reading — is there anything on your reading list you're particularly keen to get to?
DC: I started reading Obama's memoir, and I'm about halfway through that right now. I find it fascinating, so I'm going to work my way backwards through the modern presidents. Plus, I'd like to read a lot more books about VC and the startup world. Chris [Ahern] recommended a lot of good ones. He put together a reading list for me. I worked through a couple of those over Christmas break, and plan on returning to that list after my presidential detour.
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Cybersecurity is national security, and we're a D.C.-based venture capital firm on a mission to find cutting-edge startups that help us make an impact. We go beyond the check to help our founders win by leveraging our industry connections and experience as cybersecurity veterans to fuel their companies from inception to exit.