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Blog | Aug 24
WRITTEN BY Petra Koivuvaara
This blog is for anyone considering an internship at a venture capital firm. In Spring 2021, I interned at Maki.vc, and fell in love with the world of venture capital (VC). Here is my interview experience, tips for applying and an insight into the job in practice.
The interview process to join Maki.vc was straightforward. As the first step I sent a CV and a cover letter through LinkedIn. I used the cover letter to highlight my interest in VC and more specifically Maki, as well as my experience in the entrepreneurship scene. Moreover, I also shared what excites me and how I satisfy my constant thirst for learning new things.
After making it through application screening, we were given a home assignment — to select a startup from a specific batch and present our analysis of it using PowerPoint. After struggling a little to select a company at the start, I simply went with one that excited me the most. Then I investigated all the internal to external factors why the company could be an investment case. Maki’s blog series Are you VC fundable? (first post here) was really useful for this. In the end this task developed my understanding on how to analyse startups.
Finally came the interviews — two rounds with altogether four people from the Maki team — where I expanded on who I am, experiences under my belt and why I would succeed at Maki. The interviews were relaxed and focused mainly on finding a mutual fit — and I even had a good time. I prepared by reading blogs on VC and discussing with friends who’re working in the industry. After the interviews, I was thrilled to receive an offer to join Maki and start my career in VC. For the interview process, you can expect something similar this year, too!
Be yourself — this may be a cliché, but as they say everyone else is taken. Highlight relevant experiences you have, i.e.volunteering at Slush or an entrepreneurship society, founding a startup or a small business, building something from scratch, etc., — remember things you’ve done outside work and school, and even hobbies count too.
We are not looking for a person with specific qualifications, but rather someone who is eager to learn and brings new perspectives to the table. One thing I love about VC is that you get to work with people from very different backgrounds — which is why we do not expect you to tick some specific boxes either.
My tasks varied quite a lot during the internship. I started while my predecessor was still at Maki, so I got to shadow her for a couple of weeks and learn the basics. Soon after, I began taking calls alone with founders, which has been one of the best parts of the job. I also got to join in on the calls of my colleagues, who all have different meeting styles which helped me to shape my own approach. Here are some of the tasks that shaped my day.
All investment opportunities assessed within a VC. Dealflow either comes directly to you (inbound) or is found by you reaching out to them (outbound). Startups can also be found by exchanging dealflow with different VCs, or through (portfolio) founders.
Inbound — At Maki, interns are responsible for the inbound traffic that arrives in our inbox from all over the world and across industries. You’ll discover a lot of ideas, learn how to assess companies, and meet many founders.
Sourcing/Outbound — When you identify an area you or the Maki team would like to focus on, like femtech, you get to start exploring the space on your own — like finding companies, accelerators, or demo days, taking calls with founders and doing research. I also started having chats with other junior VCs, both to learn more about the industry and share interesting cases.
2. Market research
I got to do market research in different industries, which taught me a lot. When scanning an interesting company I would, depending on the case, do a quick competitor analysis or a more thorough look on i.e.the market trends, consumer habits or regulations. At times this demanded creativity to assess a market that is still nascent — something you will learn by doing! The deep dive on femtech with the team gave me a lot of perspective on the importance of female health and (the lack of) data around it. (read the blogpost here)
3. Helping our CFO
Since I have a finance and accounting background, I was also interested to learn more about what the finance function looks like — on both the VC side and our portfolio companies. This helped me to understand how truly unique the setup for a VC-firm is. I’m also intrigued by the concept of governance between VC and portfolio companies, which I hope to explore further in the future. Moreover, we built some ESG-practices at Maki, which increased my knowledge in that area.
To summarize; you’ll get to explore a lot and find what you are interested in — for me it was the energy space and the possibilities in the green transition and the hydrogen economy. One thing that you have to get comfortable with is often feeling like you don’t know much. Be prepared to ask a lot of questions and connect the dots between things. For me, the key to success was being proactive, curious and humble throughout this adventure.
I believe that investing in companies that are changing the world is the best (and the quickest) way to make an impact. I love meeting new people, hearing about the latest trends, exploring futuristic ideas, and having gazillion things run through my brain at any given time. But I also enjoy working with spreadsheets and presentations, and diving deep into a specific area every once in a while. Working in VC offers all this (and more!).
Before applying to Maki, I didn’t know many VC firms in Finland. In fact, I thought there weren’t many firms locally yet or they were coy about what they do and how. In general, I assumed the industry was a little hard to comprehend. But Maki changed all that. What drew me in the first place was Maki’s approachable brand, interesting and varied portfolio, and diverse team. Their blog posts were a valuable resource for my quest to learn more about VC.
For me diversity and inclusion matters, and I was happy to learn that Maki shares this value too. The VC-scene has traditionally been male-dominant, and even with the increasing push to promote diversity in the industry, there’s still much to be done. You can read our CFO Josefiina’s blog post on what Maki has done to attract diverse talent. We also track diversity data from our portfolio companies and incoming dealflow, which has been really interesting to follow.
After my internship, I was overjoyed to receive an offer to continue working with Maki. The atmosphere here is warm and appreciative, and I feel heard and that my opinion is valued. My colleagues have different areas of expertise, and I get to learn from them every day. I find working in VC meaningful and exciting, and I hope many others will have the chance to explore it, too. I’m always happy to have a chat — feel free to shoot me a message if you want to hear more about applying to Maki.vc.
After highschool, I went to the United States to play soccer, study finance and economics, and of course to gain some life experience. Upon returning, I joined an early-staged startup and continued my studies, this time at the Aalto School of Business — where I co-founded Aalto Investment Club and was also involved in Aalto Entrepreneurship Society. I’ve also interned at audit firms and banks, but Maki is where I had the opportunity to see what it is like on the other side of the table. Follow my journey at @petrakoivuvaara!
Maki House is now hiring interns for 2022 and we're looking for applicants from all fields of study to launch their path in VC. Apply by 30th of Sep. We can't wait to hear from you.