Internship Choice

Hi guys, may I ask your opinions on the internship choice of the below situation?

I recently got admitted by Wharton MBA and am thinking about doing a pre-MBA internship. I am currently working in PE industry in China with a local fund covering an industry I kinda dislike, so I want to quit my current job to enhance my exposure/experience/brand name for post MBA recruiting. My target will probably be PE or banking in US after graduation. I know PE recruiting will be extremely competitive and the same for good groups in banking to international students, but I previously already had some banking related work experience from a top tier BB in new york before relocating to China last year, so maybe this experience will make me stand out a bit compared with others from a similar non traditional PE route, hopefully. Currently I have several options to choose. I am really eager to know your guys' opinions on pros and cons of each choice.

1. industry-focused US mid-market merchant bank China office
This is the option I lean towards most. I am really fascinated by the industry they focus on and consider working this type of work my dream job. The shop is a leader in the field. They currently don't have any full time opening but happy to take me as an intern, so I'm thinking about using the internship to transfer to its US office down the road. The cons is it's very industry focused fund and not as well-known as some big names.

2. US mega fund China office
The work I do will probably not be very meaninful and given the long investment cycle, it would be hard for me to learn a lot. I also don't think I will have any chance of getting into its US office aftwards, but it would be really a good brand name to put on the resume.

3. China mega fund
think about Hony, Citic. They are actually doing better than those US mega funds in China. How will they be viewed compared with US mega or mid-market funds when I put No.1 ranked PE fund in China in resume? I also don't think I can get solid technicals/training in the internship experience but they could potentially open doors for future full time offers in China or their overseas office.

4. mid-market US fund
I think I can get some good training and potentially some referall to its US office later on.

5. banking/M&A
I think I can get most solid training from those places in terms of modelling, etc, since PE is really a very local business and does not have good training infrastructure, especially I skipped the former IBD 2 yr stint. But will it be problematic for me to explain on my resume, since I'm already doing PE full time?

6. top tier VC
I know this might look most unrelated to my goal on paper , but I am very interested in the TMT industry. In that space, it seems to me the line between VC and PE is pretty blurred and VCs probably get better deals. I would like to expolore the possibility. I am so having a startup of my own, so not sure if that would have any impact on my decision making.

Thanks vm for your advice and if you happen to know any place needs pre-MBA interns in US or China that fits my situation, I would really appreciate some referal, etc.

Comments (7)

Mar 31, 2014 - 6:33am

also interested

happy to give advice; no asking for referrals please
Apr 4, 2014 - 2:15am

You are still in China so nobody will give a shit about your choices here.
OP, I personally will take choice #2 only because you said you want to work in US post-MBA, otherwise I'd take choice #3 anytime.

EDIT: You may have worked longer years than me, so take my two cents with a grain of salt.

Apr 4, 2014 - 4:23am

I think your expectations on technicals/training are maybe a bit too high, assuming you would do a 3-4 month internship. It would probably be very fortunate timing to come in and work on a project that involves all kinds of technical stuff and which the firm is confident to put in your hands since you'll be gone again in a few months.

The risk I see with interning at any US firm in China is that they will have low motivation to get you into the US. For them your assets are that you're a local and if they have a China office, why would they let a Chinese work in their US offices? Not everyone might think like that but I assume the majority of potential employers will.
If you're focused on starting to work in the US I would probably go with a megafund from either China or US. Both will get you brand recognition and I think most US PEs know that the Chinese funds are doing better over there so being able to get into a Chinese MF should be considered quite positively. Post-MBA you might then have the chance to work in an overseas office for a Chinese firm or apply to US-based firms who have no strong presence in China yet but are interested in doing deals in that region.

Now this advice is more focused on strategic career planning rather than following your interests which is why I disregarded the industry-focused merchant bank and the VC a bit. If your heart is in it, go for it but I wouldn't consider it a prime route to position yourself for working in the US. I also don't see the benefit from going to a bank at this stage. I wouldn't expect you to learn anything there during an internship you don't know already.

Now here come the caveats on my advice: I'm probably on a comparable career level as you and I'm located in Continental Europe so my ideas are more common sense than actual insights on US PE firm recruiting.

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