What experience is best for growth equity recruiting?

Hi all, I'm a rising sophomore at Stanford interested in recruiting for growth equity/VC summer 2023 (Insight, General Atlantic, Battery, Bessemer, TA, etc). Previously, I've interned at a mid-large sized tech company as a product management intern. During the school year, I'm planning on doing a VC internship at a $300-500M AUM fund.

For next summer, I'm deciding whether to pursue investment banking, a product internship at a startup (Series A/B, backed by a16z), or a product internship at a larger/more recognizable company such as Poshmark/TikTok.

What type of internships would be most helpful for growth equity recruiting?

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Comments (20)

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Sep 9, 2021 - 11:14pm

Startup product (A/B) hands down and then go find an MBA ex-PE guy to teach you how to model like there's no tomorrow (students are nice one will do it)

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Sep 9, 2021 - 11:33pm

No but you will blow them out of the water if you have tech experience and do know how to model. Modeling will also teach you first hand how to talk about the investment case of these businesses, things like what net retention means, what are SaaS gross margins so you can benchmark new oppties, what is LTV / CAC and why is it a GIGO number, what is ACV/ARR/Billings/Revenue... all these things you need to know as a VC/growth guy

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Sep 9, 2021 - 11:37pm

I went consulting internship > FT offer at one of these firms and would suggest banking or MBB internship over the product route. Guessing you have a CS background since you're considering product roles but think that having this background + banking will make you most competitive. Look at current analyst bios on websites - almost none of them came from a tech company or startup into their role.Would also add Lead Edge, ICONIQ, Spectrum Equity to your list of target firms. Good luck!

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Sep 10, 2021 - 12:07am

Definitely not the hard skillset (modeling etc), I think it's largely a) demonstrating a commitment to finance/business (for mbb) as a career and b) the general exposure to investment/strategic thinking. You'll see more CIMs as a consultant/banker than you will as a product manager, and most interviews will ask you 1) what's a company you're interested in 2) what's a company from our portfolio you're interested in and 3) a case study with a CIM. All of these are questions you can better answer from a GE perspective having done 10 weeks of banking vs PM

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Sep 12, 2021 - 8:46pm

Thanks for the perspective! Wondering what you think the pros/cons of doing MBB vs banking are for growth equity?

Also, what do you think the pros/cons of recruiting for growth equity junior year summer vs MBB/banking (and then growth equity full-time)?

Sep 10, 2021 - 1:58pm

TBH, idk. I know for growth equity firms (GA, Insight, Spectrum, Norwest, etc.) it will be a big help. For GS TMT banking, it could be helpful as a side project/extracurricular given that it shows you understand how equity financing works (to some degree). I'd say it's def a good thing to immerse yourself into if you're between tech and finance. 

  • Analyst 1 in VC
Sep 10, 2021 - 4:26pm

Just went through ft recruitment and accepted a job at one of the firms you mentioned. It really depends if you're shooting more for of an early stage position (of the one's you mentioned: Bessemer, Battery, and sort of Insight -> you can pick what stage you want to be in as an analyst) or true growth equity (TA, GA, Insight as well).

Coming from Stanford will help for sure. For early stage ge/vc, I'd say a big component through interviews and the application process is determining your interest in the subject. Normally this can be done through previous internships (vc, startup, etc...) or experiences (Dorm Room Fund, Contrary, etc...). Most of the other people that I know that landed these roles had either previous startup experience, early stage vc, or MBB. Some had Tech banking as well.

For traditional GE, there will be a larger focus on modeling, albeit not a ton. I've seen more people go the tech banking route (as internships) to eventually land these jobs ft.

Happy to chat over pm

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Sep 10, 2021 - 8:38pm

Thanks for the thoughts! Just curious what you did your junior summer (right before ft recruitment)? Also, do you think banking/consulting is necessary for recruiting at true growth equity firms (TA, GA, etc) or would startup experience suffice?

  • Analyst 1 in VC
Sep 10, 2021 - 9:24pm

I interned at another growth equity firm (which is the best option out of all of them imo). I found that I had no trouble getting interviews at any growth equity firm/vc firm even if the firm didn't outright recruit at my university. Just emailing an analyst/associate at a firm I wanted to work at (highlighting that I worked at another ge firm) got me into the recruiting process everywhere I wanted to.

One thing I should point out is that there are normally very few spots availalbe for full time (when you factor in all the return offers they give to interns). My advice would be to try to figure out where your interests lie (and what firm is best in this area) and do everything you can to get into their summer internship program. For example, Bessemer normally has 1 spot for full time, Insight has 1-2, and GA similar -> for those who did not intern there (obviously this fluctuates year to year based on how many take return offers and it's very rare not to get a return offer at these firms).

I don't think banking/consulting is necessary at all. Obviously doesn't ruin your chances but you have to really figure out your story and why you want to do VC/growth. And I think that having startup and/or vc experience makes this easiest. I think the best candidate would be one who has a summer internship at a startup (maybe one that's raised a Series A or B recently) and some sort of vc experience (maybe sophomore summmer internship) which should set you up nicely for ge recruiting junior year. At that point you could recruit almost anywhere for ft (hopefully you won't need to because you're at your top firm). I didn't have startup experience, but had vc and ge internships which set me up for ft recruiting nicely. 

Would also really try for Dorm Room Fund or Contrary because it helps a lot -> I've seen a ton of people get internships at top firms who did it.

Most Helpful
Sep 10, 2021 - 11:43pm

I'm going to counter some of the post above, I'd argue that for late stage growth at big funds such as GA, TCV, etc that most of those funds require a fairly strong technical finance background. While they won't be quite as strict as traditional PE, I'd argue that coming out of undergrad, TMT banking is probably the easiest way to land one of those jobs. If you have a technical background, tech PM would be a close 2nd, but you're likely going to have to tach yourself how to do the modeling, at least enough to do a simple modeling test/case study. 

Unlike VC, Growth Equity, especially at the shops that are going large deals, is more technical than some think. All of the potential investments have enough data to allow for fairly rigorous technical analysis to be done. Churn analysis, financial models, cap table builds etc. As the Associate you're going to be responsible for driving all of these, so don't think you're going to get off the hook on that. Certain shops that are more sourcing heavy might not care as much in the beginning, but again, any big late stage VC fund likely isn't doing too much sourcing given the limited amount of deals that they can reasonably invest in. 

If you don't want your role to be as technical finance oriented, VC tends to be much less quantitative and much more likely to hire from a tech PM background, otherwise, if you're truly shooting for top tier growth and already have CS, PM, and VC in your background, I'd think that tech banking would be the best if you want the best shot at an Insight/GA type of shop.

Edit: Saw that you're likely recruiting for an analyst role and not an Associate one. My advice still generally holds true, you perhaps have a little more flexibility as Stanford + PM + VC will get you any sourcing focused role at these funds. From there, you'll likely get trained on how to model. With that being said, my initial point is still valid. You're going to have to model and get good at software focused technical analysis. The best place to learn how to do that will be tech banking, even if you just do it for a summer, I think that experience will balance out your more tech focused experiences so far.

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Sep 12, 2021 - 9:16pm

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