Freshman Internship - Unpaid & Relevant Or Paid and Not Relevant

Currently between a few internships for this summer and wanted to get some perspective on people actually in the industry.
Background: Semi-target university in the Northeast, interested in working in investment banking or restructuring after graduation

Internship 1: Small M&A advisory and business brokerage - Unpaid, part-time, would work with two partners on a long-term deal over the course of the summer

Internship 2: Boutique private equity firm (~200M) - Unpaid, part-time, would be doing deal sourcing, financial analysis of target companies, etc. Most likely no client interaction or execution

Internship 3: Raytheon, FP&A - Paid, full-time position doing basic finance work

Internship 4: Oracle, Business Development - Paid, full-time position, would be researching technology industry for potential opportunities, reaching out to clients, etc.

I know a lot of people say "don't worry what you do after freshman year", but from people I know in IB, it's gotten more competitive every year, and it doesn't help to not be from a prestigious, target school.

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Comments (8)

Apr 18, 2018 - 5:53pm

I'm not in IB, but as a successful business owner who has lots of experience with all types (backroom to boardroom), I would choose 3 or 4. Not because they are paid, but rather, they are structured functions with well known, prestigious companies. That will be impressive experience for you to leverage into your next internship post sophomore year. Will be easy to discuss in an interview and the interviewer will find it impressive that you were able to land that opportunity so early. The other two, although may be quite legit and more relevant to your long term plans, have the feel of working for your dad or friend of the family. Nothing wrong with that, but not as impressive.

Remember, the goal is to set a trajectory for your ultimate career. It's about step 1, step 2, step 3, etc. Don't worry about the job in the context of the end game. Make it the best step 1 to get you to step 2.

Apr 18, 2018 - 6:41pm

Yeah I definitely get that perspective. I think working in a big company like Raytheon or Oracle would provide some good experience (and pay, obviously). It just makes me worried because everyone I know in IB did some sort of relevant internship after freshman year. Everyone is applying for these positions and coming from a non-target school, I'm already at a disadvantage.

Apr 18, 2018 - 7:08pm

I agree that FP& A is relevant. Also VERY relevant is the process and structure of 3 and 4. Think about it.

You have to interview for an established position.
The position will have a specific job description.
You will be accountable to that job description.
Your performance will be formally reviewed (because that's what big companies do).
You will be part of a team and expected to function as part of a team.

All of these attributes of the internship are critically important, regardless of the actual work, to future employers. They want to know that you could function and excel in that formal environment. You can spin the work anyway you want.

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Best Response
Apr 19, 2018 - 5:51am
rickle:

I agree that FP& A is relevant. Also VERY relevant is the process and structure of 3 and 4. Think about it.

You have to interview for an established position.
The position will have a specific job description.
You will be accountable to that job description.
Your performance will be formally reviewed (because that's what big companies do).
You will be part of a team and expected to function as part of a team.

All of these attributes of the internship are critically important, regardless of the actual work, to future employers. They want to know that you could function and excel in that formal environment. You can spin the work anyway you want.

I agree with this. There are upsides and downsides to this. While being part of a team as an intern in this capacity, you will have little room for growth, only the opportunity to do each task to the fullest extent of your abilities.

For #1 and #2, there will be more room for growth, but the downside (or upside) is that there is less structure and you must be able to see the workload of the company and be assertive to take on tasks as needed. You may not always be given work to do and must be able to communicate with your boss as to what you can do to help, but not only that, you have to figure out how to appropriately work in the time for them to train you on certain things that you don't understand, when it is convenient for them. If you're uncomfortable with being assertive and proactive, #3 or #4 might be a good place to start.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • 2
Apr 19, 2018 - 5:24am

I'd pick #1 or #2.

You're going to get more hands on experience. Also, you have a better chance of building this relationship to possibly work on heavier projects with them next year and maybe a full time offer later. Even if you don't continue with them, it will look better to IBs if they see you have worked in IB/PE before, even in internships.

For the record, I interviewed at Raytheon last year in corporate finance in El Segundo (Los Angeles). I had three interviews with them, but ended up choosing another company. The work you will do as an intern will sound really cool as in the division you are working in (weapons, bombs for fighter jets, etc.), but the actual work will likely be pretty boring/easy. Large companies have specialized tasks that interns do over and over again, whereas smaller companies (#1 or #2) will need an intern to cover a greater breadth of work.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • 1
Apr 20, 2018 - 3:17am
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