December 15, 2016. D-day.
I knew that decisions were expected to trickle in on this day and I had the worst sleep the night before, in anticipation. Your 1:1 interviewer would be expected to call admits between 9 – 10 AM EST so I was awake at 6 AM PST counting down the hours. And by 7 AM, I had gotten the call. I couldn’t have been happier. It definitely took me that entire day to process what exactly had happened. Immediately, I began searching for housing, which professors I wanted, what classes to take. This was the last school I had been waiting on, with rejections from the rest, and I honestly couldn’t have been more blessed for the results to turn out the way it did.
That day, I started planning out what I would be doing for the next 8 months before school starts in August. The traditional thing that almost everyone will tell you to do is to travel. That’s fine and all if that’s something you want to do but having spoken to many students (check my networking post if you haven’t already), you travel a lot in business school. I wanted to utilize this opportunity during the summer to learn as much as I can prior to the start of school.
I know I want to get into venture capital someday and without having ever worked in the trenches, it would have been hard for me to break into the industry. Having spoken to a fellow Wharton alumni who is currently in VC, he gave me 3 tips to best utilize my time during the summer:
- Spend time researching a sector and industry that will be hot in the next 5 – 10 years. Being knowledgeable about one specific focus, becoming the expert in that area, and creating something to show for it (whether it be a presentation or a market map) will carry a long way. With this in hand, you can set up some time with existing venture capital firms to compare notes and hopefully break into the industry in that regard.
- Intern at one of the portfolio companies of one of the VC firms you admire. Getting the operator experience of what it’s like working at a startup and potentially getting face to face time with investors is another aspect of breaking into the industry.
- Intern at a less of a brand name VC firm to get the experience of what it’s like being a VC which may include drafting investment memos, performing due diligence, market research, meeting with founders, etc. Having this exposure without any previous experience will prove invaluable when it comes to recruiting during your first year for your summer internship.
What you will find is that many companies, at least ones that go through the standard recruiting process of applying online, will not hire interns either 1) this late in the year (as most recruiting for the summer in the fall) or 2) that are not currently in school and are not about to graduate so as to convert full-time. This was the struggle I personally faced.
I was fortunate enough to be given the option to decide between options #2 and #3 and after careful consideration, chose to go with #3 since working at a startup for a short 2-3 months will not be as impactful to both myself and the company relative to the personal gain of working at a VC firm who often hires summer associates. As a result, I will be working as a summer investment associate as my pre-MBA internship from May until July and still have one month to travel before the start of the school.
Killin’ two birds with one stone.