STUDENT EXPERIENCE PROGRAM
In 2018, Ohio Innovation Fund (OIF) expanded its Student Experience Program through the offering of student internships and shadow experiences. We hosted more than 17 students throughout the year from a variety of universities, such as Kent State University, Ohio State University, Ohio University, Wittenberg University, Kenyon College and Case Western Reserve University.
Matthew Benson, a graduating senior at Ohio University, started at OIF in 2018 as an investment analyst summer intern. At the conclusion of his summer internship, he accepted an offer for a part-time investment analyst position, which he held throughout the fall and winter of 2018. Benson recently migrated into an Executive-in-Residence role in which he works part time with OIF companies and is also pursuing his own business venture, eFuse.
Here’s a look into Benson’s life as an OIF intern and his experiences as a young professional.
What does a typical day look like for you as an OIF intern?
The beauty of working at OIF is that there is no “typical” day. A single day can include a range of tasks, including investigating potential investments, working with OIF companies to complete special projects or meeting with other venture capitalist to learn about the state of venture capital and entrepreneurship.
When you first start with OIF, you learn very quickly to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Put simply, every potential investment and company presents a new set of circumstances, problems and opportunities. While this may seem intimidating, it also provides an opportunity to learn a lot about different companies and industries. I love working at OIF because I never know what I’m going to be doing, who I’m going to meet or what I’m going to learn.
How has OIF differed from other companies at which you’ve worked?
Fortunately, I had great experiences at every company at which I’ve worked, but there is no doubt in my mind that OIF is on another level. What differentiates OIF is the value, experience and grit they bring to every conversation and problem. The culture is one of high moral standard, selflessness, hard work and humility. Despite all of OIF’s success thus far, the entire team remains motivated—they don’t settle for mediocrity, always treat people with kindness and truly value every conversation.
OIF’s culture and success is a direct relation to the caliber of leaders Jill Raderstorf and Bill Baumel. These two are genuine, hardworking, brilliant and selfless. Working hand-in-hand with them has given me fantastic insight on what it means to be a great venture capitalist, but more importantly, a great person.
What experiences have you had in classes, clubs or other internships that prepared you for this position?
I have been blessed to attend Ohio University as an undergraduate student studying entrepreneurship and finance. I’m not sure that there is a single class or experience that prepared me for my positions at OIF. Rather, it was a cumulation of experiences and conversations with faculty and staff that prepared me.
Across the board at OHIO and within the College of Business, we pride ourselves on experiential learning opportunities and creating dynamic soft skillsets in tangent with learning the hard skills. It’s the soft skills and experiential learning opportunities that prepared me the most for the many people I’ve met and problems I’ve solved while at OIF. Particularly in the College of Business and within the Center for Entrepreneurship, I have been exposed to a number of opportunities, and the faculty and staff have gone above and beyond to help me. Whether it was providing advice on my entrepreneurial ventures, creating the opportunity to have conversations with successful alumni, or simply continually checking in with me and showing they care, the efforts of The College of Business and Center for Entrepreneurship have molded me into the man I am today. I am forever indebted.
In my opinion, there are not many institutions that focus on developing the whole professional in the way Ohio University does. My ability to engage, interpret and execute is a direct correlation to the experiences and learning opportunities I had while at OHIO. If I hadn’t attended Ohio University and been exposed to these learning opportunities, I would not be where I am today.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since starting at OIF?
I’ve learned many lessons at OIF, but the one that stands out the most is that there is value in every conversation. Regardless of someone’s title, level or experience, there is always an opportunity for you to learn something—and you, too, should try to provide value, no matter where someone is in the process of life. At the end of the day, we are all in this together. If you can help someone now, who knows how that can affect the future of entrepreneurship? Sometimes, we just need to lend a helping hand.
What advice would you would give to students hoping to land an internship in venture capital or at a startup company?
I would give three tips:
- Work as hard as you can where you are. “Bloom where you are planted, and you will sure be picked.”
- Continually build meaningful relationships with your professors, peers and alumni—not to be confused with networking.
- Don’t be afraid to ask, and make your goals known.
Interested in interning with OIF? Send interests or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.