Student experience program

In 2018, Ohio Innovation Fund (OIF) expanded its Student Experience Program through the offering of student internships and shadow experiences. To date, OIF has hosted more than 50 students in our offices from a variety of universities, such as Kent State University, Ohio State University, Ohio University, Wittenberg University, Kenyon College and Case Western Reserve University.

Eric Weien is an MBA student at Ohio State University and will graduate in 2019. During the summer of 2018, Weien was an investment analyst intern, which exposed him to due diligence, portfolio companies, board meetings and more.

What did a typical day look like for you as an OIF intern?

Every day was different while I was working at OIF. Some days, I would work on a due diligence project for Jill, while other days I could be going to an event as a representative of OIF or working on a special project for one of the current portfolio companies. I would have weekly check-ins with Bill or Jill about the progress of my work, as well as go over the schedule for the next couple of weeks to get an idea of what new work needed to be done or what upcoming events I could go to.

How has OIF differed from other companies at which you’ve worked?

Working for OIF was very different from my past jobs. The venture capital and startup world is a lot less formal and not so much about being at your desk from 8 to 5. Instead, I was given projects with due dates, and it was up to me to get the work done in time however I wanted to. Some days, I would work in the office the whole time, and other days, I was able to work from the coffee shop down the street from me. Bill and Jill were also very accommodating to my interests. For example, my MBA program’s focus is in finance, so I was allowed to pursue more projects that dealt with the financing aspect of the firm and portfolio companies. I also have a biology background, so I was able to work on due diligence reports for science-based companies.

What experiences have you had in classes, clubs or other internships that prepared you for this position?

Before starting at OIF, I took an entrepreneurial finance class for my MBA. This class gave me an introduction to the VC and startup world, as well as a basic understanding of how the firms operate. I was also able to go on a Silicon Valley trip through Ohio State University, where we met with startups and multiple VCs. Here, we learned the different strategies venture capitalists use when looking at prospective startups and industries and what they believe to be the most important part of young companies.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since starting at OIF?

My biggest takeaway from this internship was confirming that I am interested in working in the startup industry. Bill and Jill really let me explore what I was interested in during my time there, and it was an educational experience equally as much as working experience. To me, working at a startup means everything is higher stakes—getting one customer could mean the difference between a company’s failure or an investor’s justification to get the company to its next round of funding. It is an exciting world, and everyone I met throughout my internship was welcoming and helpful.

What is one piece of advice you would give to students hoping to land an internship in venture capital or at a startup company?

For VC firms, make you sure you really understand what type of companies or industries that firm invests in, as well as read up on their current portfolio companies to see what stage they are in. For startups, try to figure out what type of company you are interested in. Network as much as you can, set up informational meetings over coffee with a founder or employee of a startup you are interested in, and just immerse yourself in the local startup scene.