Undergraduate students began internships this January as part of the 2020 cohort of the Georgetown University MBA Venture Fellows Program, after the initiative expanded to include undergraduate students for the first time in fall 2019.
Through the program, which was founded in 2015, student fellows intern at a local venture capital firm part time during the spring, full time during the summer and part time in the fall. The current 2020 cohort of fellows consists of ten MBA students and five undergraduate students, according to Eric Young assistant dean at the MBA Career Center.
The decision to expand the program to undergraduate students comes after David Wilson (MBA ’19), a past fellow and principal at Franklin Advisory, worked with Estelle Spanneut (MSB ’21), a current 2020 fellow, to pitch the idea to Jeff Reid, the founder of Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative, and Ben Zimmerman, chief operating officer and associate director of Georgetown Entrepreneurship.
The program provides students the chance to gain experience in a field with high barriers to entry and allows students to make meaningful connections, according to Young.
“The inspiration behind the program was to provide an onramp for MBA students into the very competitive, selective and hard-to-access world of VC,” Young wrote in an email to The Hoya. “The Venture Fellows Program was designed to be a win-win for students and employers.”
The program not only benefits undergraduates, but also gives firms the chance to recruit young talent, according to Wilson.
“I knew this would be a great opportunity for the venture firms in the area (knowing how great the McDonough undergrads are) as well as for the undergrads to get plugged into VC,” Wilson wrote in an email to The Hoya.
The initiative is managed by the Georgetown MBA program as part of Georgetown Entrepreneurship, and includes a network of faculty, advisors and representatives from local venture capital firms. In total, eight local firms offer internships as part of the program.
Students must go through an application process as well as multiple interviews to gain acceptance into the program, according to the Georgetown Entrepreneurship website. Local venture capital firms ultimately make the decision as to whether to accept or reject a candidate.
The opportunity to work for venture capital firms is valuable for Georgetown students, according to Spanneut, who helped expand the program to undergraduate students.
“Venture Capital is typically an industry that is relatively inaccessible to undergraduates, but through the Venture Fellows program and other programs like VCIC, Georgetown Entrepreneurship has really facilitated our exposure to the startup investment world,” Spanneut wrote in an email to The Hoya.
The program provides more support from advisors and peers than a typical program, and gives students the chance to learn news skills during the internship, according to Christine Steele (MBA ’20), a 2019 fellow.
“Being part of the venture fellow program gave me the opportunity to connect with my classmates who were also participating in the program” Steele wrote in an email to The Hoya. “We shared our experiences at our respective firms and gave each other feedback and advice on how to approach our internships.”
The move to include undergraduate students in the program is important to expanding the popular fellowship that sets the MSB apart from peer business schools, according to Young.
“It’s been incredible to see the success of many of the past Venture Fellows who graduate and land jobs in venture capital,” Young wrote. “Some have come back to campus to hire Venture Fellows of their own. It’s a testimony to the hard work of students, the generosity and investment by employers, and the spirit of Hoyas helping Hoyas.”