A venture capital internship is an entry-level, temporary position at a venture capital firm, that typically involves a variety of tasks to gain experience and insight into the world of startup investment. These may include conducting market research, assisting with due diligence on potential investments, and helping to evaluate business plans and financial projections. Venture capital internships are often highly competitive and can provide valuable experience and networking opportunities for those interested in pursuing a career in venture capital, private equity, investment management, or a similar field.
Tips for Landing an Internship
Venture capital firms are a crucial part of the startup ecosystem, providing necessary funding and expertise to help young companies grow and succeed. As a result, internships at venture capital firms can be highly sought after, providing valuable experience and insight into the world of startups and investment.
If you're interested in pursuing a venture capital internship, here are some steps you can take to increase your chances of securing one.
Develop knowledge of the VC industry: This can include reading industry publications and websites, listening to podcasts, attending conferences and events, and networking with professionals in the field. Read The Best Venture Capital & Private Equity Podcasts and Newsletters to Subscribe To for a few places to start learning.
In addition, you should have in-depth knowledge of the industry/markets the VC firm is active in. This includes relevant players, trends, technology, important metrics, and more.
Build a strong resume and cover letter: Highlight any relevant experience you may have, such as internships, part-time jobs, or extracurricular activities that demonstrate your knowledge and interest in venture capital. Interest is key here; you want to be able to show proof of a trajectory toward VC. Also, for many roles that may not be directly related to venture capital, you can still find ways to highlight knowledge/skills that are applicable.
Research venture capital firms and identify ones that align with your interests and goals: VC firms vary widely based on the stage that they invest in, the industries they concentrate on, their total funding, their size, and more. Reach out to these firms directly or through their recruiting programs to express your interest and inquire about internship opportunities. Speak to current and past employees to learn more about their specificities and values. It’s important to demonstrate fit–or why you are especially suited to that specific firm over others–where you can.
Also, make sure you understand how the firms are run. Who are the principal decision-makers? What is their investment strategy and philosophy? Who are some companies currently in their portfolio?
Network, network, network: Venture capital is a people-driven industry, and networking can be a powerful tool for securing internships. Attend industry events, join relevant LinkedIn groups, and connect with professionals in the field to increase your visibility and make connections that can lead to internships. Not only will networking help you land an internship, but it will also majorly aid you in a career in venture capital. Most of the sourcing that happens in VC stems from connections. The wider you can grow your network, the more you will have to offer your future firm. Also, it will help you practice and improve your people skills.
When building connections with people at the VC firm, especially those who are more senior, it’s often a better approach to build a relationship before you ask for a job. Meet them in person, ask for contact information so you can follow up with questions about the firm and industry, prove the value that you’d provide as an intern, and then ask about internship opportunities. Of course, the best approach will depend on the specific circumstances; there is no one size fits all.
Be persistent and proactive: Don't be afraid to reach out to multiple firms and follow up on your applications. Showing initiative and determination can set you apart from other candidates and demonstrate your commitment to securing a venture capital internship.
Join student venture clubs/organizations: Doing so will benefit you in a few ways. First, most of these groups provide opportunities for their members to learn relevant skills like performing market research and analyzing industries and trends. Second, they’ll help you build your network. Third, many of these clubs invite partners from firms to speak, and doing so will increase your visibility and give you a chance to impress. Lastly, they look good on a resume and provide that demonstrated interest mentioned earlier.
Relatedly, use your professors! Many professors, especially those who teach courses on entrepreneurship or investing, have connections to firms and partners. Use them to ask questions, expand your network, make introductions, and recommend you.
The Best 50+ Free Resources to Break Into Venture Capital
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Who Are VC Firms Looking For?
When hiring interns and entry-level analysts, there are a few traits that VC firms are specifically looking for and there are a few that are bonuses.
- Interest in VC and the industries it focuses on
- Able to understand, interpret, and make decisions based on a company’s financial metrics
- Knowledge of what makes a good investment – can you assess the founding team? The go-to-market strategy? The product-market fit?
- Interesting background experience that is at least tangentially related to investing
- Hardworking, inquisitive, and analytical with good people skills
- Demonstrated achievement – VC teams are very small, you need to be able to prove that you will bring value and succeed
- Experience working in a startup or founding a startup yourself
- Other unique skills that will set you apart from other applicants – this can be deep expertise/knowledge of a specific vertical, technical skills, proven investing success, relationships with entrepreneurs, or something else entirely
- A reputation/brand in the space – do you have a blog where you write about VC happenings, have you completed a VC fellowship, etc.?
At the end of the day, what will most guarantee you an internship is knowing the right people. The more that you can put yourself out there, meet those in the industry, demonstrate a sincere passion for investing, and prove your technical skills, the better your chances of landing one of these coveted positions.
One of the best ways to learn about entry-level positions, top VC firms, and tips for standing out is to work one-on-one with a coach. Below are some of our top venture capital coaches who have experience at major funds and have gone through the recruiting and application processes; browse all of them here.
Here are a few other resources you may find helpful as you apply for and interview with top VC firms:
- The 10 Best Venture Capital Fellowships
- The 50 Most Common Venture Capital Interview Questions
- The Different Types of Buy-Side Firms–and How to Choose One
- The Top 10 Venture Capital Books
- How to Get Into Venture Capital: Lessons Learned Interviewing 100+ Investors
- What to Do if You Didn't Have an Internship This Summer
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