Before Launch Series: Part 4
Team: Building a strong internship program to support your search
In the previous parts of our Before Launch Series, we've discussed various aspects of preparing for a successful launch of your search fund.
In part 1 of the Before Launch Series, I shared some of the administrative tasks associated with starting up your search fund, from selecting your tech stack to networking with 3rd party providers and others in the search community. In part 2, we discussed the basics of search fund branding, from creating your brand identity to developing a website and marketing materials with consistent messaging. In part 3, I walked through actionable steps to build out your operations for the search process in a low-risk environment, regardless of your strategy or fund structure.
Today, I will delve into an important component of your search process: building a strong internship program to support your efforts. Interns can be invaluable assets to your team, providing fresh perspectives, enthusiasm, and a helping hand in the numerous tasks that arise during the search, especially for those working without a partner. Regarding the team, we will cover the following topics:
Managing intern workload
Empowering the team with educational content
These activities will naturally roll into the core activities of your search, so I tried to make it as comprehensive as possible. While there are some things that I am sure I missed, I hope you find this helpful in designing your own team and internship program.
If you have not already, I encourage you to check out the previous posts in the Before Launch Series to get fully up to speed. More information can be found below:
When constructing your internship program, there are multiple factors that influence how your team will be structured, how you interact with them (and for how long), and what tasks they should be working on.
The common approach for traditional searchers seems to be having a small army of undergraduate interns on a seasonal basis with the help of an MBA intern overseeing their sourcing activities and assisting with industry research. That said, I’ve heard of some who hired an overseas virtual assistant (VA) and a few buddies from business school to tackle the outreach process and another search who had upwards of 15 undergraduate interns (don’t ask me what they were doing). I recommend structuring your team to match your personal style, search thesis, and sourcing strategy rather than attempting to replicate someone else’s internship program.
In part 3 of the Before Launch Series, I reviewed building a sales funnel and my approach to systematic personalization in the outreach process. In order to execute such a sourcing strategy that requires manual data entry and verification, I’ve built my team accordingly. I find that I work best overseeing undergraduate interns directly, with usually about four to five working part-time at any given point in time. An intern’s core responsibilities are sourcing-related, so I prefer to partner with them to ensure they’re getting the support they need and that data quality is maintained. Delegating those activities to an MBA may be challenging unless the searcher has found a trusted partner who is actively pursuing the path of ETA themselves.
My experience with undergraduate interns has taught me that programs should be no shorter than eight weeks to allow for an extended period of productivity but no longer than three months. Given the repetitive nature of sourcing-related activities and competing priorities with school and extracurriculars, undergraduate interns struggle to stay engaged for a long period of time, especially in a remote-working environment.