Future VC was established in 2018. It was a first-of-its-kind internship and development programme that has, over the past 4 years, made tremendous progress supporting over 50 people to work in Venture Capital around the world. In partnership with Diversity VC, we have been on a mission to support underrepresented and talented individuals to break into Venture Capital, by doing so, improve the inclusiveness of the venture capital industry and contribute to a fair distribution of capital to founders. Six cohorts in and after 4 years of our internship programme in its current format, we’re going to move to a brand new structure which has been developed based on the feedback we’ve received from VC funds who have participated or would like to participate as well as previous interns.
Previously our internships lasted 8 weeks, and we expected our interns to work full-time at their allocated VC fund and participate in two masterclass sessions per week, networking sessions, developmental sessions and much more. This has worked well, with over 150 people graduating from our core internship programme worldwide. In addition to these interns, we’ve made our content available to people worldwide as we democratise Venture Capital knowledge and understanding. In the pandemic year alone, the audience of our masterclasses grew to nearly 500 people in 166 international cities. We’ve also achieved high levels of representation, an important tenet on which Future VC is built, including over 65% representation of women in the most recent cohort and consistently ~50% representation from ethnic minority groups. We had some success in representation from other marginalised groups, including LGBTQ, those from lower income backgrounds, neurodiverse and differently-abled. Still, we appreciate a lot more needs to be done.
Feedback from Venture Capital funds that have previously participated
Over 90 VC funds have participated in the Future VC programme since 2018. Participating funds have hired an intern and provided them with a full-time role encompassing deal origination, projects, and opportunities to learn and develop. This has been tremendously impactful and has, in many cases, changed the lives of participating interns (see our website for just a few examples!), and feedback from participating funds has been very positive and a reflection of the brilliant effort from the placed interns. However, when we established Future VC, our industry was less mature than it is now in topics around diversity and inclusion and therefore change needed to be incremental. I am not saying all of the systemic issues have been solved, far from it – however, a very large number of VC funds will have someone in their organisation now owning DEI or at least engaging the broader organisation to make some changes. Bearing this in mind, asking funds to make an 8-week commitment in 2018 seemed to make sense without much-supporting evidence about how impactful or useful the programme could be. Since then, VC funds participating in the programme have been generous with their feedback. We’ve had excellent comments about the quality of the interns, their energy and enthusiasm and also their impact in their roles – whether that has been with deal flow, taking on market mapping exercises, bringing new ideas to the table and also demonstrating to the funds the importance and value of diversity of thought. At the same time, funds have also shared with us that they’d like to have interns be with them longer. It has been suggested that after 8 weeks, the interns are adding value, and it’s a shame they are not with them longer – and this has not stopped some funds who have offered Future VC interns full-time roles or extensions to their internships often by a few months and in one case a year. Other feedback we have received from funds is that the matching process of interns to funds has been problematic (i.e. the intern they wanted was no longer available). They’d like interns to come to the programme with a better understanding of the industry and key technology. Some funds have also observed that over 8 weeks, their interns have been extremely busy with their roles. Then on top of that, they’ve needed to network, attend lots of sessions organised by Future VC, attend industry events and a lot more – the sentiment has been that this is a lot in a short space of time, perhaps too much. Finally, we’ve also heard from VCs that our programme naturally lends itself to certain underrepresented groups, e.g. students, because it currently takes place during the summer and therefore does not become an attractive option for others, and this is something we’re keen to change.
Feedback from the Future VC alumni
Much of the feedback we’ve received from the interns mirrors what the VC funds have said. Interns over the years have always shared with us that they’re humbled and grateful to the funds who often put so much into their internship to make it available experience and also appreciative of those partners who spend time delivering long-form masterclass sessions – access like that is something which otherwise would not be possible, and the interns love it. Having an opportunity to be in a paid internship (and yes, some VCs still offer unpaid internships!) means that Future VC becomes an option for people who would not be able to afford not having an income for several weeks. Our focus on education and vocational training means we’re covering key developmental topics to help our alumni break into the industry. However, we’ve also heard from interns who have participated before that where they’ve been unfamiliar with Venture Capital, many of the key concepts only begin to make sense after several weeks. Knowing the VC industry, we also recognise that to be eligible for a full-time role, funds are often looking for people with 2-3 internships on their CV before they become a viable candidates for a permanent position – so although several Future VC alumni have gone on to secure long term positions, they have on several occasions only been able to do this because they’re initial internship was extended, or they completed one more internship to get enough experience post Future VC. Sharing sentiment with their internship employers, the interns have often commented that having the internship alongside the masterclasses, mentoring, and other activities mean that by the end of the 8 weeks, they’re exhausted!
Through a combination of being under-resourced (as a non-profit organisation) and not knowing better, we also now recognise that our application process for Future VC was being run far too close to the internship beginning, and this made it difficult for people to plan, but also meant that applicants were self-selecting out of the process to pursue something which meant that they had a firm offer in their hands months before Future VC would be able to make offers.
Future VC 2023: what’s changed?
We’ve listened, learned, and believe that we have made the right adjustments to make Future VC even more impactful and successful for the interns and participating funds. Here is a summary of the key changes:
- Longer internship: We will offer a 6-month internship based on two individual 3-month back-to-back placements and two different VC funds.
- Selection of interns: Our intern application process will open on 12th October 2023, nearly two months earlier than when we normally run the process. We intend to be in a position to make offers to interns before the end of the year.
- Pre-internship programme: Masterclasses and developmental sessions will begin in February 2023, several months before the internships begin. This will mean that ALL interns will have a base knowledge and understanding of VC before their internship, allowing them to hit the ground jogging and have more time available during their full-time internship. We will continue to run some events during the 6-month internship, encouraging networking amongst the cohort and peer-to-peer learning.
- Ongoing support: Mentoring will be spread over a longer period instead of just the internship period. This will mean that interns may meet their mentors less often, but having access to them longer will be helpful, for example, in applying for jobs or scouting opportunities.
- Ongoing work experience: Scouting opportunities, we’ll be working on a new strategy to make deal scouting for VC funds efficient and fair; we think that scouting is an excellent way to get real-life experience, and Future VC will work with funds to make this an equitable process for all involved.
- An efficient process for participating funds: In the past, we’ve been onboarding participating funds much later in the process. For the 2023 programme, we will begin to speak to funds immediately so that the administrative side of the process is completed far sooner.
- Allocation of interns: Interns selected for the Future VC 2023 programme will be subject to several assessment rounds. Future VC has built an excellent understanding of expectations when selecting interns on behalf of participating VCs. We will use this information and our experience to create a portfolio of candidates for participating funds to select from. There will be fewer candidate options available to funds (than in previous years), but we believe this will mean a better experience for the interns and the hosting funds – we intend to upgrade our screening and assessments so selection becomes easier.
- Geographic mobility: In Europe, we have funds scattered across the continent, with major hubs in the UK, Germany, and France as a few examples. And in the US, we have hot spots in San Francisco and New York, but funds are distributed over the entire country. We will support mobile interns who could be placed in another city for 3-6 months.
How to get involved
Interns: Intern applications open on 12th October 2022 and close on 15th November 2022.
EU: https://app.beapplied.com/apply/jyfx51fdau (apply to this if your location is not listed above and you are located in the EU)
For any internship questions, contact Anishka: email@example.com
For VC funds who’d like to hire an intern, email Julia: firstname.lastname@example.org