My Experience Interning at Information Venture Partners
This summer has been a learning experience for me, thankfully a positive one. My name is Marcus Simons and I’m going into my fourth year at the Richard Ivey School of Business at Western University and this summer I had the opportunity to intern with the team at Information Venture Partners. I’ve always had an interest in technology and more recently I’ve taken a particular interest in finance and discovering the inner workings of companies. When I discovered Information Venture Partners, I realized this position would allow me to combine my love for technology and finance into an internship which fueled my initial excitement for the job to start. Now, writing this with a week left at the firm I wanted to reflect on the main lessons that I’ve learned throughout my 15-week internship that may be helpful for other students who get the chance to work at VC for their summer internship. Below are some of the main lessons I’ve learnt throughout my internship.
Asking the right questions
The right questions are your friend. Throughout my 15-week internship at Information Venture Partners I’ve probably had the chance to meet with 50+ tech start-ups from across North America. All of these companies come with a pitch deck and an eager team ready to show you why they are going to be the next big thing. To separate the hopeful from the helpless you need to ask the right questions during these meetings. I had the chance to spend a majority of these pitches with the Information Venture Partners Co-Founders and Partners Dave Unsworth and Rob Antoniades where I experienced the type of questions they asked to prospective companies. From these pitches, I noticed it was obvious that all of these questions were thoughtful but I found the questions with the most impact were the simple ones. Coming in as an intern I thought that I had to ask the most ground-breaking questions to impress co-workers and companies, but I realized that it was the simple questions that went the longest way in terms of understanding a business and forwarding the overall conversation. Don’t be afraid to ask the simple questions.
Turning a lot into a little
Many times, throughout my internship I was asked to find large amounts of information from many different places. Given that this information would usually be presented to a team that didn’t have an overabundance of disposable time, a 5-page summary on blockchain wouldn’t cut it. Rather, I learned I needed to take all this data that I collected and synthesize it into a one-page summary that a partner or associate could look at for 5 minutes and have all the important information they needed heading into a meeting. This meant I had to apply prioritization and detail orientation to provide the most effective reports for my fellow cohorts.
Check, then double check, then triple check
Pay attention to detail! There are plenty of times when as an intern, I had to present my findings to the partners to help shed some light on a certain company or to describe what I’d uncovered in a company’s data room. It always benefitted me to set aside 10 minutes after I finished a presentation to check over it meticulously to make sure I wasn’t forgetting anything. Time is precious, so you don’t want to waste it by discussing a mistake which could be easily fixed.
Your face is not as important as your work
The culture of Information Venture Partners is very organic, light hearted and even though the whole team works hard, they also know how to take a break. Given the flat nature of the organization this prevents a facetime culture from being created. Going in as an intern I had the mindset that I would be working until the sun came up and sleeping at the office to show that I was dedicated to the firm. What I realized quickly was the simple rule of quality over quantity, yes dedication and passion are important but you can have the best of both worlds in a healthy and efficient way. Different businesses have different opinions on this issue but at Information Venture Partners as an intern if you are putting quality into the work that you do, that is the most important thing.
Kill the fear
For an intern, there is usually an immense fear of messing up, being perfect or being judged. I quickly discovered that the workplace is very much similar to the classroom at times in the sense that curiosity can easily stifle fear. Coincidentally, this is exactly what happened to me at Information Venture Partners. I learned to stop caring about this irrational fear and let my curiosity get the best of me and it showed in all areas of my internship from pitches, to partner meetings. If you let curiosity replacing the fear that you have in the workplace you can truly show your most authentic self to the employers that you have.
All things considered my internship is wrapping up in a week and it seemed to fly by at breakneck speed. I want to thank the whole Information Venture Partners team Rob, Dave, Kerri, Alex and Kate for making this truly a summer to remember. Although my realized learnings are meant for any intern I feel that this is also applicable to university in general, and I will be able to apply this to my last year at Western University where I plan to focus my energy now and be able to apply these newfound skills.