This week TBE caught up with Federico Gonzales, who shared his experience interning in private equity. Read on if you want to learn about what a private equity intern does, how Booth’s Private Equity and Venture Capital lab course helped Federico land his position, and what advice he has to offer those recruiting for PE internships.
Where are you working this summer? What is your title? What are your responsibilities?
I’m working at Equity International as a summer associate. EI is a Chicago based private equity firm that focuses on real estate-related investment opportunities in emerging markets. During my internship I’ve worked closely with the investments team exploring potential deals. I’ve worked on several macroeconomic and industry analyses, as well as investment approval documents and presentations. It’s been an amazing experience and I feel that I’m definitely getting a lot out it.
Where are you from? What’s been different about working here versus your home country?
I’m originally from Colombia, and this is my first time living and working in the US. Before business school, I worked for an investment banking boutique in Colombia for 4 years. Thinking about the differences between my job back there and my internship experience in Chicago, I would say that they are significantly smaller than I’d originally expected. I think it’s in part due to the nature of Equity International, and the fact that the company has very close ties to Latin America. Maybe one of the biggest differences that I’ve found while working here is the nature of the relationships with my co-workers. I feel like there is a lot more camaraderie in the Latin American work environment, relationships have a more personal quality to them and there’s definitely more joking around. That’s not to say that I haven’t been able to develop very good relationships with a lot of my co-workers through many office planned events such as a Segway tour of Millennium Park and the annual bowling tournament (of which I am proud to say I am reigning champion). A significant change from my previous work life in Colombia is the commute. Coming from a city like Bogota, where the traffic’s a nightmare, and being able to walk to work in less than 25 minutes is incredible. I really like riding the water taxi back home every day, and enjoying Chicago’s fine summer weather.
How did Booth help you transition from banking to PE?
Booth provides students with a great deal of resources to help them transition into private equity. From the annual private equity conference to several PE competitions, there are many opportunities for students to learn more about the industry and continue to build their network. In my case, I think that probably the most important resource was being able to participate in the Private Equity and Venture Capital Lab in the spring quarter. The lab allows students to work part-time for a Chicago-based host firm while taking classes at the same time. My host firm was Equity International, which helped me to build a relationship with them and learn how the firm operated internally. Ultimately, this experience led me to my internship and allowed me to hit the ground running from the first day.
You’re a career coach for the class of 2014. Do you have any advice for incoming students interested in recruiting for Private Equity?Start early! Recruiting for an internship in private equity is a long process and it usually lasts longer than the processes for most other industries; however this does not mean that you can’t start preparing for it from day one. Get involved in the Private Equity group, volunteer to help out at the annual PE conference, and begin building a list of firms which you would like to intern for. Also, get to know and build relationships with your classmates recruiting for the same industry; they will be a great resource and especially a significant source of support throughout your recruiting process. Finally, remember that recruiting is only one part of business school, never forget to blow off some steam and enjoy yourself every once in a while!
One of the perks of interning in Chicago is that you get to enjoy the city at its best. What have you enjoyed most about Chicago summer?
I’ve been blown away by what a fun city Chicago is during the summer. There’s a lot of cool stuff going on, from street festivals to awesome rooftops. I’ve tried to make the most of my summer here, and so I’ve been to plenty of barbeques, played soccer at the beach and gone sailing on the lake. The thing that I enjoyed the most was Lollapalooza last weekend. After 3 days of singing, dancing and partying alongside over 150,000, I can genuinely say that I am completely exhausted, but also extremely happy to have spent my summer in Chicago!