For all interested in Investment Analyst internship at Makena Capital Management in Menlo Park...
In California: (1) 45 minute interview on-campus with two interviewers and questions are simple like walk me through your resume, why Asset Management, how did you hear about the firm and things along those lines, followed by a final round at Makena with 2-3 short interviews with 1-2 analysts that ask the same questions plus teach me something your passionate about in 2 minutes or some other standard question along those lines.
Outside California: (1) 45 minute interview on-campus asking the same questions as above and then a follow-up phone call asking how you would invest a million dollars or something along those lines.
3-4 day turn around on offers.
Process is pretty random if you don't go to Stanford or know someone at the firm. They love Stanford students and athletes, preferably that are frat (there are 2 Stanford KA athletes in a bullpen of 10 and numerous other Stanford alumni and athletes). Don't go to Stanford and aren't a college athlete? Just mention that you love the work hard play hard mentality, some sport is your favorite hobby when you aren't hiking, biking, swimming and doing something that makes you cultured. You also have a girlfriend, love dogs, and love being outdoors. You love cooking, wine (specifically Rose), wine country, playing golf, parties, reading, eating healthy foods, and have traveled extensively or studied abroad. You visited California or have family in California and it's the best place in the world. Mention that you typically like to get a workout in before work, sharp body sharp mind is your philosophy.
Just know that choosing to work here for the summer they will give internship offers to 7, 8, maybe even 9 interns and in recent years are only giving 1 offer out regardless of what they say. If you like those odds, proceed.
Also be aware that in the internship class there will be people that are connected. For example, one person in the internship class, he was a part of the same Stanford frat as two members of the bullpen and he lived with one member of the bullpen for a year before that person started working at Makena and this same intern was friends with a partner's son. Another intern I found out during week 6 or 7 is the Chairman and Co-founder's nephew. Yet another intern I found out is the son of a former Managing Director and now Senior Advisor at the first firm that invested in Makena (they are part-owner of Makena). Think about your chances of getting an offer before you sign up.
They will send you David Swensen's "Pioneering portfolio management" and Roger Lowenstein's "When Genius Failed." Reading these books is great but there will be no test on them. "When Genius Failed" will never be mentioned, and the only part about David Swensen's book you should even consider reading are the brief intros to asset classes, skip everything else. They will send you several video links which are the Khan Academy videos on bonds, equities, accounting, etc. Don't bother watching them, there will be no test and as things come up during the internship, just do a quick Google search to find out any relevant info you need. This is one of those jobs that you can fake it till you make it.
The only thing worth learning besides the brief intros on assets classes is specific Excel functions which will not be mentioned prior to internship. Going in, know how to find the risk, return, and Sharpe ratio of an index like SPY for example. Download the historical prices of 5 or 6 indices or stocks into Excel, calculate all their risk, return, and Sharpe ratios on an annualized basis. Then find their correlation to each other. Know how to calculate the annual return of a stock/index based on monthly or quarterly price data.
Know how to take these returns and turn it into a growth of a dollar chart so you can graphically display the return of multiple stocks/indices in a simple form. Learn the following functions in Excel: INDEX/MATCH, OFFSET, CORREL, PRODUCT, STDEV.S, EOMONTH, IFERROR, TRANSPOSE, MMULT, and CONCATENATE. Play with the Solver tool in the Data tab of Excel, this is used when you have a bunch of stocks/indices and you want Excel to calculate how to allocate the percentage of a portfolio to each stock/index so it maximizes the Sharpe ratio (the amount of return you get based on how much risk you take).
I knew someone in the bullpen before I started my internship and he/she told me about the Excel requirements beforehand and I was far ahead of everyone else, then you just have to practice making it look like you are learning it for the first time but are picking it up immediately. Next thing you know, people in the bullpen are giving you all the Excel work, they are talking about you and you are an amazing intern far ahead of everyone else. They are obvious and you will know you are the front runner quickly when you start getting extra projects and are sitting in on client meetings while everyone else is not. This happens very quickly so if you aren't getting extra projects or invites to several client meetings, you aren't getting an offer.
Start internship in mid-June and ends mid-August. They provide an apartment so housing is taken care of. You are paid $4,000 a month, I think I took home about $6,000 after taxes when it was all said and done, so nothing fantastic. Perks are hours so I came in at 8:30am every day and left at 5:30pm and rarely worked outside the office. I stayed until 7pm maybe 2 times all summer. That's another thing, don't stay late or come in early, it will actually work against you. There was someone in my class that came in early and stayed late every day and he/she didn't get an offer and I found out from my friend that people thought it was weird so don't waste your time, they will look down upon it. Just have fun all summer, or if you are a couch potato, just make up some great story about an amazing weekend every single Monday and Friday, and do the hours I mentioned above, know Excel prior and make it look effortless. You will be the intern that has the best time but is getting all the work done with minimal effort and you will get the offer.
First two weeks are training, don't go overboard on reading all the stuff they send out. There is not much thought at all that is placed into the reading they send out. It will not help you to read all of it and there will be 50 or more pages a night. Just skim the first sentence of every paragraph if you must or jump to the end. You will be given small assignments after the reading, don't spend much time at all on them. Nobody will spend much time reviewing it or care. Just throw some bullet points down and have two good questions and two good comments to share.
One assignment during this time period will be an ETF challenge. You will select 5 ETFs and do the return, risk, correlation analysis mentioned above and then submit these 5 ETFs and their weightings. Each intern will do this and then the person at the end of the summer with the highest return and Sharpe ratio from the start of the competition to the end will win $100. They will ask you to create a model to dynamically download the prices of all the ETF portfolios for each intern and then rank them by highest return and highest Sharpe ratio. Don't bother creating a new model, just go find one in the following fashion: you will get access to a lot of things when you get your laptops, some of that access will include all the previous work of interns in the past. It's out there, you just have to look for it.
Along those lines, find out the names of people who got offers in the past and then look up their work and copy what they did. Don't volunteer to work on the model, don't send the updates each week to let the bullpen know how the ETF Challenge is going...it will take up time and it will not help you get an offer. Be wise about your time, the bullpen isn't going to care that you updated the ETF Challenge model, they will care if you don't make consistent progress on your two projects (will discuss below). Finally, you will be asked to create one slide and present your ETF Portfolio to everyone in the internship class/bullpen. They aren't looking for you to win, they are looking for you to provide diversification and a portfolio that makes sense. So don't choose 5 ETFs that are all U.S. tech companies. Choose a safe ETF like bonds, get some diversification across geographies and asset classes.
Each asset class will give you a presentation, just come into each presentation with two good questions and you will look like a star, don't read all that stuff they send out. You will get multiple rounds of Excel training that will seem very laid back, they will teach you everything I listed above. You will have a final round of Excel training and the next thing you know you will be given a 2 hour pop quiz with unorganized data that you must organize using INDEX/MATCH and CONCATENATE and then find the return, risk, Sharpe ratio, weightings of portfolio (everything above) and they will be looking for you to use INDEX/MATCH, PRODUCT, OFFSET, and the functions I mentioned above to speed up the process. You will be called to a boardroom with every single Analyst present and asked to open your Excel file and present a single slide to show the return, risk, and lay out your process. It's meant to intimidate you and see your Excel and presentation skills. You will be given feedback and asked to fixed your mistakes. Fix them and then wait for a final exam. You will be given a final exam toward the end of the summer that is 2 hours long that will ask you to do all the same functions again so INDEX/MATCH, OFFSET, etc. The exam you have access to when you start the internship, just go find it.
They will send you to Stanford for 3 days of Executive Education. Again, there will be a lot of reading for the Stanford classes, just skim over it or don't read it, it won't be necessary.
During week 3, reach out by email for coffee with the following people: the mentor you are assigned, the intern class leader, the former intern class leader who works in the Private Equity class now, and the first intern that Makena ever had that now works in the Listed Equities asset class. Listen to what they have to say and seem very interested and upbeat, if you are a runner or play golf or some other sport that seems relevant, casually bring it up and invite them for a run before work or something.
After training, you will be put on 2 projects in different asset classes to see if you can handle two projects at once and not lose track of one and to get you working with more than one person in the bullpen. You will get placed on a project with the person in the bullpen running the internship program, his/her project is priority but don't lose track of your other project or anything along those lines. At the end of the internship, every bullpen member will be sent an Excel file to fill out which will ask them several questions to rate your performance. Additionally, this same performance review will be sent out to all interns so you rate each other. Bullpen, intern class leader, former intern class leader and first intern will decide if you get an offer. Partners and senior leadership have little say on hiring so spend most of your networking time on the bullpen. Ask them to coffee, ask them to go for a run casually, setup an entire Analyst/Intern happy hour, etc.
They aren't looking for anything that detailed on the projects, just make sure you have some clear takeaways. You should complete both projects in 4 weeks from start to finish. Don't create a huge slide deck, you should aim for 15 slides max per project because you will be presenting one of these projects at the end of the summer to 30-40 people in the firm and you will only have 20 minutes to do it in. It will do you no good to create a 100 slide deck, they won't value it and it will make you look bad. As you are researching your projects, create your slides as you go. Every week, present new slides to the person in the bullpen leading your project, they love talking back and forth with you frequently, this is not a place where you go and finish a project and then deliver a finished product. Just play along with that and make sure that each slide you present has a clear takeaway so that a Principal who knows nothing about the project can read the slide, without any explanation from you, while on a plane to New York and immediately understand what is being communicated.
The project topics will be purposefully vague like research India for investment opportunities. Don't let them know the vagueness of the project affects you at all. You are the best intern and regardless that you've been given a completely vague topic you just go out and find the best takeaways anyways. Make it look effortless and you will look like a rockstar. Don't ask that many questions from anyone, for advice go to the person in the bullpen who went to USC, then the person who went to UC Davis, and then the person who went to University of Michigan (in that order). The rest of the bullpen, seriously, don't ask them questions, they will be sarcastic, act like you are wasting their time, or they won't be helpful and you will look incompetent. The bullpen is ruthless in the sense that you will know immediately if you are disliked and they constantly chat about the interns in the bullpen, kitchen, in meetings they have weekly about your performance, etc. Know that whatever you say to anyone in the firm will be regurgitated to everyone in the bullpen. If you had four beers at a cocktail party and left your plate on a table without throwing it in the garbage, every single Analyst will know about it. If you pick up all the Excel functions "in one day," every Analyst will know about it.
Regarding the India project example above, one way to do that project would be to get a bond market perspective, an equity market perspective, perhaps there is some compelling economic issue occurring there like the declining growth of their biggest industry, and then their President is stepping up and creating a lot of reforms that will cause improving economic conditions. It is that simple, don't go overboard. Create 15 slides with key takeaways and don't worry about getting all that is going on in the country. They will be impressed you finished it in a timely matter, only completed the 15 slides you should, and covered all the perspectives...bonds, equities, economic performance and politics.
You will be on each project with one bullpen member, but if you have a macro project like the one above on India, do two slides on the bond market with the most important takeaways and then go to the fixed income analyst with your two slides and get his/her opinion, do the same for the equities market and go to the equities analyst with your two slides and get his/her opinion, etc so each asset class gives their stamp of approval on the relevant slides. Don't go ask for advice from all these Analysts in each asset class prior to creating your two slides each, they will not provide helpful advice and you will look incompetent. They will stress throughout the summer that there is no bad question and to just keep asking questions, they'll stress how laid back it is, but they will be evaluating you openly and talking about you frequently whether you know it or not and they will start talking about how incompetent you are, slow to learn, and how you take up all their time asking questions. If you are stuck, go see the people I told you to see above in the order I laid it out.
In addition to the 2 projects you will be on with the bullpen, you will have 4-6 projects you will complete over 4-6 weeks on a theme such as housing. You will be partnered every week with a new member of the internship class and you will be given a new topic to research and then you will have a 15 minute presentation each week in front of the internship class, the internship class leader and the Chairman and Co-Founder. The Chairman and Co-Founder will not have a say in your hiring, but the internship class leader will be in the boardroom and taking notes on everything you say and do. Since these are 15 minute presentations, be sure you don't have too many slides to present in that time. They don't appreciate going over the time limit. Don't read from the slides, practice your presentations and speak to the Chairman and Internship leader in the room.
Don't interrupt the Chairman or get impatient and try to move the presentation along or skip slides, just roll with it and then continue. He will stop you multiple times throughout the presentation for 2-5 minute periods. These are important presentations, but get the main points and move on, you need to be getting your other two projects done and you do that by constantly showing your next two slides to the next bullpen member and get them checked-off, then meet with the person you are doing the project for and say you were talking with so and so in fixed income regarding these fixed income slides, then present them to the person you are working on the project with. Finish the projects, and they will offer for you to present them in front of partners and put you on new projects. That is when you know you are getting an offer.
Multiple times there will be opportunities to pick up extra work or express interest in doing extra work. I wouldn't volunteer for too many opportunities, just here and there. There were people in the internship that went out of their way to do extra work and it didn't work out well for them. Do your projects and people will start coming to you with extra work without you saying anything. On that note, there will be opportunities within the intern class to do work with each other, like working on the ETF challenge model, planning cocktail events, picking up beer, picking up coffee, etc. I wouldn't recommend spending much time on these tasks, just help out once in awhile and it will look good and you won't waste much time. They won't remember if you had the most awesome games planned out for the cocktail party or got coffee every week, they will remember if you aren't making progress on your projects like they want or picking up Excel quickly.
After you have a great relationship with the bullpen, start venturing out and getting coffee with partners if you are interested.
You will have 3 or 4 parties at work throughout the summer, you will probably hike as a group 1-2 times, have a couple of BBQs, have lunch a few times as a group, trolley booze cruise in SF, and may go somewhere like Yosemite.
You will get feedback during the midpoint of your internship. Your final assignment will be to present for 15-20 minutes on one of your projects. No exit interview. Offers are not extended until the week after the internship, and again this is typically just one offer.
- Lots of social events
- Menlo Park, Palo Alto, SF are there for you to enjoy
- Free housing
- Good hours
- Value social life
- Work is easy
- Not much travel for work (could be con)
- Fratty (I think about 50% of the bullpen was in a frat or sorority - this could be a con)
- Most partners are pretty friendly and you can get access to the Chairman, CEO, etc pretty easily
- Small firm (could be con)
- Relatively new company (could be con)
- Company laptop, company card to charge dinner if you work late and company iPhone (not issued to interns)
- Nepotism and favoritism
- Not much diversity - mostly White people coming from middle to upper class
- The bullpen is dominated by men, but it looks like they are trying to do something about that
- Sometimes hard to get work done because of so many social events and the bullpen is loud, social events seem to be a work requirement and extend the hours of your day at work
- Menlo Park, Palo Alto, SF are wildly expensive and comp is nothing spectacular
- Claim social life is important but many work from home on weeknights and weekends
- Work could easily become mundane
- Summer Analysts are treating like interns instead of Summer Analysts so expect to be getting coffee, serving Analysts, planning parties, making beer runs, printing and making copies, finding and sending a cartoon every week to put on their performance report, which is fine just don't expect to come in and be a member of the team, there will be a clear delineation between you and everyone else and you will be the pledge
- Claim prior, during and after the internship that they help the 80 or 90% of the interns that don't get offers find full-time jobs, but I haven't heard from a single intern from 2014, 2015 or 2016 that they did anything besides confirm title and dates of employment which is great, but not when you claim that you'll help find jobs and provide reference calls
- The Analyst program is about 4 years and then it is very difficult to leverage this job into anything other than Asset Management, unless you go to business school
- Analysts who come back full-time are treated like pledges, they setup the boardroom with extra seats and put them back when they are done and remove garbage from the boardroom table, they pick up any job the more senior Analysts throw at them and they have to work under some Analysts who I guarantee would not get along with all personality types (that is to say that in such a small firm there are some people who are difficult to work with and you can't stay away from in such a small place)
- You come in full-time as a Generalist and then you are assigned to an asset class after about a year, but the needs of the firm dominate and you aren't likely to get your first choice