AMA: Non-target sub 3.0 GPA -> VC, M&A, PE internships

Hi guys, long-time lurker here.

Recently signed up to contribute to the community - a lot of the information I've read contributed a lot to my success in finding internships.

The title pretty much says it all: went to a non-target university, had terrible grades, but still ended up doing internships in venture capital, M&A, and now private equity.

Feel free to ask me anything - would love to help out.

Comments (8)

Jul 26, 2018

How were you able to be competent in what the job required if your grades were terrible?

    • 8
Jul 26, 2018

I doubt one's grades and one's ability to be a rockstar at a particular job are strongly correlated.

I had terrible grades because I wasn't passionate about what I was learning (bioengineering), and put in minimal effort when it came to coursework.

However, I was able to build solid skills (critical thinking, presentation skills, deck building, basic finance, operations) from what I did outside of the classroom. I was active in my uni's consulting club, I co-founded the MUN org., was part of a student investment fund, and started a couple of startups... etc.

Of course, it's quite a stretch to compare what I did in university to what I did in venture capital and M&A. But I had a good base skill set (along with the hustle mentality), and I was fascinated by the technical skills I needed to learn (valuation, modelling, cap tables, checking intellectual property, etc.), so it was quite natural for me to dive in, read, and strive to be competent at what I was doing.

    • 1
Jul 27, 2018

I'm in a similar situation in terms of grades. Did the firms typically show concern about the low GPA? If so how did you address them?

Most Helpful
Jul 27, 2018


A couple of tips:

1) It's standard practice to leave your GPA out of your resume if it isn't up to par (I've been told 3.5+ and 3.7+ on a 4.3 scale are acceptable for most firms).

2) Apply for firms that don't require you to fill out your GPA on a form or provide a copy of your transcripts.

I got my first internship (at the VC) without being asked for a copy of my grades, and pretty much got in because I had gone to multiple startup seminars and had some knowledge about how VC's think + connected with some members of the VC community already.

Going from the VC internship to the IB internship took some time, but ultimately a firm took a keen interest in me due to my VC experience and gave me an offer. It helped that the IB was quite small, and had just started operating a few years ago - learned a ton from being in a small team.

From IB to PE, it was pretty much a spray and pray. Applied to 60+ firms, got replies from a handful. Finally a regional PE invited me to interview (had 3 interviews in total), and I received an offer on the last interview.

Attitude plays a huge part in the recruitment process: besides being hungry, smart, etc. (all admirable qualities that most if not all prospective applicants will possess), I found it very effective to stay humble and make it clear to the firm you're applying to that you're there to learn and help as much as you can.

Besides studying up on technicals, make sure you have an amazing story. Every time I've told my story, I'd get amazed looks from the interviewers - first impressions do count, and it makes it far easier to pitch you to the MD when you're that much more memorable.

    • 2
Jul 28, 2018

Hey, first of all thanks for doing the AMA. I've got a few questions for you if you don't mind.

  1. Do you think a lot of what got you this far is through connections?
  2. How long did the ride to private equity take?
  3. Is there anything you would've done differently or wish you've done?
    4.Did you have to move for any internships

I'm going to be graduating in a couple months and am looking into trading but have no idea how to break into the industry without good grades or experience to show for it. Any tips on getting internships?


Jul 28, 2018


Sure no problem.

  1. Rather, the lack of connections that I had pushed me this far. I sourced all the internships cold - applied to 400+ jobs on LinkedIn, used multiple job portals, used rocketreach to find emails, etc. Had to hustle to get what I wanted.
  2. I'm not quite in PE - just interning. Received the offer after my final semester in university.
  3. Wish I hadn't parted ways with my first bosses on bad terms. In retrospect, I could have handled things a bit more gracefully. I performed quite well in VC and could have extended my internship, but chose to leave because of comp., and because I disagreed with the fund's investment strategy and questioned the quality of our portfolio. HR messed up and forgot to send me the contract extension, and I used it as an excuse to accept the internship offer from the IB. Needless to say, the partners were not happy that I wasn't staying on.
  4. Yes.

Tips - there are a lot on the site you can take a look at, but in my opinion the best tip you can get is to embrace the grind. You have a lot of strikes against you (bad grades or experience) and you can't change your GPA now or what you did during your summers in school.

What you can control however, is the time and energy you put into finding a job in the industry.

Have the mindset that every no is a no closer to a yes.

This helped me a lot. Rejections stung less, and I was always thinking "on to the next".

    • 2
Aug 1, 2018

Great story. Keep up the grind!

Aug 1, 2018