Should I take up a VC internship?

A little about my background. I am from Singapore, and have a degree in engineering. I had my own startup for about 6 months, but stopped pursing it after realising that it will not work. It was a F&B startup to connect people with wholesome home-cooked food.

I was looking for jobs, and was offered an internship at a small boutique VC firm. While I am interested in a VC job, I have reservations taking up that internship. It seemed to me that VC isn't an ideal first job to develop my skills as compared to tech, consulting or banking. Furthermore, I am concerned that my lack of experience will make it hard for me to offer any valuable advice to startups and hinder my career progression.

Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks

Comments (16)

 
Oct 27, 2017 - 4:40pm

Congrats on the offer!

Hard to say without knowing more about the firm and the role, but just a few things to consider:

  • Do you have any other options? It sounds like you've already graduated and aren't currently employed post-startup. Assuming you don't have other near-term opportunities lined up, it could be worth accepting if for no other reason than to avoid a large gap in your resume/experience

  • Is it going to be a valuable experience? Hopefully the role enables you to contribute materially and develop useful skills. If you have other options, then it might not be worth it

  • Don't overthink the whole "advising startups" thing. It certainly varies firm to firm, but as a junior team member (and even moreso as an intern), your main job isn't going to be directly advising portfolio companies. Again, depending on the stage and structure of your firm, your main responsibilities are more likely to revolve around evaluating investment opportunities, doing research, performing benchmarking/financial analyses (where relevant), internal projects, potentially some sourcing, etc

  • What the ideal next job is, largely depends on your medium to long-term goals. Do you think you'll be able to learn/develop skills at this internship that will move you in the right direction? If so, I think it's a pretty easy choice, especially if you don't have anything else lined up

 
Oct 28, 2017 - 1:11am

orangemarker:

Congrats on the offer!

Hard to say without knowing more about the firm and the role, but just a few things to consider:

  • Do you have any other options? It sounds like you've already graduated and aren't currently employed post-startup. Assuming you don't have other near-term opportunities lined up, it could be worth accepting if for no other reason than to avoid a large gap in your resume/experience

  • Is it going to be a valuable experience? Hopefully the role enables you to contribute materially and develop useful skills. If you have other options, then it might not be worth it

  • Don't overthink the whole "advising startups" thing. It certainly varies firm to firm, but as a junior team member (and even moreso as an intern), your main job isn't going to be directly advising portfolio companies. Again, depending on the stage and structure of your firm, your main responsibilities are more likely to revolve around evaluating investment opportunities, doing research, performing benchmarking/financial analyses (where relevant), internal projects, potentially some sourcing, etc

  • What the ideal next job is, largely depends on your medium to long-term goals. Do you think you'll be able to learn/develop skills at this internship that will move you in the right direction? If so, I think it's a pretty easy choice, especially if you don't have anything else lined up

Thanks for the advice. I don't have other concrete options, but am lining up for some interviews (not VC, consulting or banking). Taking up the internship probably means giving up those interviews, which is the main struggle because I am not sure what I can realistically get out of this internship (see next para).

I am not sure about the experience. It is a boutique VC firm that focuses primarily on B2B fintech. There wasn't much I could find online, and the interviewer wasn't very specific when I asked about my responsibilities,. He said something along the lines of desktop research, some analysis and modelling, and maybe sourcing if required. I get this feeling that they are quite a young and small firm and do not have a very structured programme in mind for interns. As such, I am worried about what's after the internship? Could I join a bigger and more established VC firm or potentially only being able to join them. If the latter, would it hurt my chances of getting into a good MBA programme and what are my chances of switching firms in the future? I know it's hard to say without knowing more.

I don't have an ideal next job, but if I take this VC internship, then I would like to start a career in VC, given my interest in tech and innovation. In case anyone is wondering, I am not thinking of staying long-term because of their narrow focus. While I like fintech, I would also like to look at B2C models, and am much more passionate about bio & health tech.

 
Oct 31, 2017 - 6:50pm

How "lined up" are those interviews?

I think it's probably fair to say that consulting/banking will give you a broader range of options. not to mention the rigorous training (on-the-job learning) and branding it can provide.

That being said, if you're interested in VC and the space you are covering, it could be a really unique opportunity. Just make sure to take advantage of it and work hard. The hours are likely going to be materially better, but I'd encourage you to take time outside of "office time" to really get to know the industry and the fundamentals of the job. I think that'll really pay off if you are thinking about lateraling to another firm where you might be competing against candidates with more "traditional" backgrounds (and even then, you'll notice that people in VC tend to come from a wider range of backgrounds)

If you do accept the VC internship, try your best to secure a full time offer (if available) and develop good relationships with the more senior people, who may be able to help you find other opportunities

 
Oct 27, 2017 - 5:05pm

I was in a similar situation last year. My first internship was at a technology focused VC firm (outside the US). Like you I was a bit worried that I wouldn't be starting off in banking, but you'll be pleasantly surprised at how relevant some of it can be to what you want to do later on.

Further to that point, you got offered an internship. Why are you so worried that you lack the ability to give any "valuable advice"? They're not gonna throw you in the deep end from day one. You'll spend most of your time calling up startups, editing memorandums, some financial DD etc. All pretty relevant if you ask me.

To sump up, it seems like it could carve an interesting career path for you, and I suggest you take it. It won't be ridiculously hard to leverage that experience and move into consulting or tech. Congrats on the offer!

 
Oct 31, 2017 - 6:51pm

Venture Capital Investor Relations Internship -Unsure if I should take (Originally Posted: 11/27/2017)

I was recently offered an intern position at a VC firm with their investor relations team. I want experience in VC because I eventually want to get into it, however, I want to be part of the investment side as opposed to the investor relations side. I realize that this is a great opportunity but I'm questioning taking it because I want a more hands on experience with the deal side of things, not the IR side. Is it worth taking? Any thoughts?

 
Oct 31, 2017 - 6:52pm

Hey Banana_Man19, I'm the WSO Monkey Bot and I'm here since nobody responded to your topic! Bummer...could just be unlucky but one of these topics will help shed some light:

Maybe one of our professional members will share their wisdom: Billy Beane jvielb hg1179

Fingers crossed that one of those helps you.

 
Oct 31, 2017 - 6:57pm

Unpaid VC Internship- Take it? (Originally Posted: 11/18/2008)

A very small VC firm that specializes in Asian investments offered me an unpaid internship, not sure what I will be doing, I haven't graduated yet, still undergrad.

Should I take this?

Ithought VC internship was generally RARE....but again, I am not sure

 
Oct 31, 2017 - 7:01pm

I got my best experience (granted I was an undergrad at the time) working an unpaid position (boutique IB and PE shop). I recommend it (since you'll be learning more than doing medial tasks that they have to give you to justify the pay of someone with otherwise minimal value add). I also am going to try to use a few more parenthesis in this post before I'm done (there we go).

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