The Benefits of Interning at a Private Equity Firm

Embarking on your career journey amidst today’s unpredictable landscape can feel overwhelming. As you navigate through the early stages of your academic and professional life, the path ahead may seem unclear. Internships, particularly in competitive fields like investment management and private equity, emerge as invaluable stepping stones, offering a rare glimpse into the intricate world of finance and investment sales. Yet, securing such internships is no small feat given their high demand and the rigorous selection process.

Understanding the challenges and uncertainties you face, we aim to shed light on the profound and lasting impact an internship at a private equity firm can have on your career. At Dakota, our journey in the investment management sector since 2018 has offered us a front-row seat to the dynamic evolution of the industry and the pivotal role internships play in shaping future leaders.

As the CEO of Dakota, with a rich history in investment sales and a personal career trajectory that has spanned over five decades, I've witnessed firsthand the transformative power of early professional experiences. My ongoing journey in investment management, despite my executive role, continues to be grounded in the fundamental principles of investment sales.

With this perspective, I am eager to advocate for the unparalleled learning opportunities presented by internships in private equity and investment management. Such experiences are not just about gaining a foothold in the industry - they are about laying the foundation for a robust, long-term career.

In this article, we’re going to outline some of the most important things you can learn in your internship working at a private equity firm. By the end of the article, you’ll have a much better sense of everything you could gain from a career in private equity.

25 things (at a minimum) you will learn as a private equity intern

  1. How to build relationships: Interning at a private equity firm teaches you the art of building lasting professional relationships, crucial for success in investment management, by fostering trust and mutual respect with colleagues and clients.

  2. The importance of asking for things: Learning to effectively request resources or support is vital in a private equity setting, as it demonstrates initiative and can lead to more significant opportunities within the investment firm.

  3. The importance of delivering value first to your prospects: This approach establishes credibility and trust, showing prospects your commitment to their success before entering into any investment management agreement.

  4. How to manage a one-person business: Interns gain insights into the autonomy and responsibility required to manage projects independently, mirroring the skills needed to run a solo venture within the broader scope of private equity.

  5. The business economics of an investment sales business: Understanding the unique financial models, revenue streams, and cost structures of investment management firms is crucial for interns.

  6. How to set-up a meeting: Interns learn the logistics and strategic planning necessary to organize effective meetings, a fundamental skill in the investment firm environment for fostering collaboration and making pivotal decisions.

  7. How to use Gaining proficiency in and other CRM tools is essential for managing client relationships and tracking investment opportunities, a key component of investment management.

  8. How to “demo” a product: Demonstrating a product effectively can be pivotal in investment decisions, teaching interns the importance of presentation and product knowledge in the private equity sector.

  9. The importance of subscription revenue: Interns learn why recurring revenue models are favored in investment evaluations, highlighting the stability and predictability they bring to a business's financials.

  10. How to upsell by adding more value to your customer: This skill is crucial in both investment management and client relations, focusing on enhancing customer satisfaction and revenue through strategic value addition.

  11. What it means to create a large total addressable market (TAM): Understanding and expanding TAM is key to scaling businesses, a concept interns learn to apply when assessing potential investments.

  12. How to tell a product story in a powerful way: Storytelling is a vital marketing tool that interns learn to use, making complex investment opportunities more accessible and compelling to clients and stakeholders.

  13. How to use a wide variety of other software platforms: Proficiency in diverse software is essential in today’s investment landscape, equipping interns with the tools needed for analysis, communication, and management.

  14. The role marketing plays in the sales process: Interns observe firsthand how strategic marketing efforts contribute to the sales funnel, essential knowledge for investment firms looking to grow their portfolio companies.

  15. How to take a prospect through a sales process: This teaches interns the steps of converting interest into investment, a critical process in both securing funding and managing portfolio companies.

  16. The importance of teamwork at work: Success in private equity relies on collaborative effort, and interns learn the value of pooling diverse skills and perspectives to achieve common goals.

  17. The importance of communication with your teammates: Effective communication is the backbone of teamwork, ensuring that strategies are aligned and objectives are met within the investment firm.

  18. The importance of culture and how it accelerates growth: Interns experience how a strong, positive company culture can drive performance and growth, lessons they can apply in any future leadership role.

  19. How to launch a new product: From market research to launch strategy, interns learn the comprehensive process of bringing a new product to market, a valuable skill for investment firms interested in innovation.

  20. How to price a product: Setting the right price is crucial for market success, and interns learn the strategies and analyses involved in pricing decisions, directly applicable to investment valuation.

  21. How to write emails that get high response rates: Effective email communication is crucial in the investment world, and interns learn how to craft messages that engage and elicit responses from busy professionals.

  22. How to call a prospect to introduce yourself and set-up a meeting: Interns practice the art of making impactful first impressions over the phone, a key skill for building new relationships in the investment sector.

  23. How to shoot video: In an increasingly digital world, learning to create compelling video content is valuable for marketing any business, including those within the private equity portfolio.

  24. How to ask the proper questions of your prospect: This skill is essential for understanding clients' needs and aligning them with the right investment opportunities, fostering successful partnerships.

  25. How to sell: Interns learn the fundamentals of selling, from identifying leads to closing deals, a critical skill set for any professional in the private equity and investment management industry.

At the end of your first year you will have built a foundation of world class business skills and in all likelihood will be an Account Executive Leading a team of three business development reps.

How to get started finding an internship

At Dakota, our motto is always know who to call on, and I think this can be extended to your career as well. Knowing where to start is key.

To learn more about the first investment management industry job board, visit Dakota Talent.

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Written By: Gui Costin, Founder, CEO

Gui Costin is the Founder and CEO of Dakota.


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