You’re Interning Where?!
It’s your first weekend interning in NYC, and you grab dinner with some friends. Each of your fellow intern friends begins to detail their summer internships. Your banking friend talks about the late nights she is pulling and complicated models she is running, and your friend in consulting talks about the CEO that he saw in the hallway. When it’s your turn, you tell the group you are working at a venture studio as an undergrad intern. Everybody is amazed, and the questions come rolling in. How did you get into venture capital? Don’t you have to do banking for two years? Isn’t starting a company a prerequisite? Do you need to be in the top 1% of your class? How did you pull it off!? You look at the group and shrug. There is no one way to land that venture internship, but a common theme over here at 25madison is being passionate. Here’s an inside look at what it takes to not only get that venture internship but succeed in it once you secure the role.
Talk about what you Love
If you land that first interview at 25madison you might be asked why you want to help build businesses. Here are a few answers my interviewer (now co-worker & friend) had heard that did not hit the mark: I want to make money, I’m interested in business, it’s my lifelong dream to work at a well-funded art studio. We build businesses here, not art pieces! 25madison isn’t looking for you to have your entire life figured out. They are looking for individuals who are curious and will really care about the work they're given. Here are some areas that might just hook your interviewer: the story of your startup (success or failure!); market trends you could talk their ear off about; a short anecdote that speaks to your character. Also, know their portfolio! Have the details of a few portfolio companies up your sleeve that you’d be excited to work on. For example, as a college athlete I was quickly drawn to Rewire, a fitness app startup backed by 25madison
Be a Self-Starter
The internship is yours. Congrats —this is where the hard work begins. Imagine yourself arriving at work, and after a round of introductions, you sit at your desk with no current assignments. At 25madison, interns are guided, but their hands are not held. You must be a self-starter. As Zig Ziglar eloquently puts it, “You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” So, get those fingers on your keyboard, open that Notion doc, and create something that adds value. Your manager may not ask you for a certain deliverable, but they are thrilled when something unexpectedly comes across the desk. Furthermore, try and find something you can own and put your mark on, so that even after the brief period of an internship you can say “I was only here a short while, but I did that, I advanced that ball, I developed that idea.”
Volunteer to help every chance you get! The advantage of being an intern is that you can plug yourself into all the different work areas in the firm (especially at 25madison). A day in the life at 25madison might look like sitting in on founder pitches, helping develop a brand, assisting in writing an LP letter, and helping think through the community driven events. This was literally yesterday for me! However, this can only happen if you raise your hand, are eager to work, and understand your voice matters (more on that later).
Coffee Chat it Up
The more caffeine the better the internship (...or, at 25Madison, the portfolio company coffee alternative, MudWtr!). One of the measures of a successful internship is getting to chat with all the other interns, analysts, directors, and even partners and founders. We’ll repeat that last part: the highly successful partners and founders. At 25madison both the partners at the firm and the founders of the portfolio companies are extremely accessible. In fact, they want to chat, so set up those coffee chats. In fact, at a tight knit venture studio like 25madison, the partners might even seek you out. If you do happen to find yourself in a room with the partners or founders, remember you deserve to be there, so be yourself.
Your Voice Matters
Your voice really does matter, even if you are only an intern. If you are genuinely passionate about what you are working on, then you will have opinions. One thing that all 25madison interns do well is make themselves heard. There are no wrong answers or bad questions. In fact, one of the first things interns are told here at 25madison is that on more than one occasion, interns have gone on to work here permanently and/or found companies in the portfolio (Noah Gray, once a 25m intern and now CEO and Co-founder of Onda which just raised a $12.5 million growth round and partnered with mega fashion retailer Revolve).