My Internship in Mid-Market Private Equity: a Summer with Freshstream
My name is Tijn Hamburger and I am based in Amsterdam. I grew up in this city and I did my Bachelor in Business Administration at the University of Amsterdam.
During my Bachelor, I did M&A internships with Nielen Schuman and Lincoln International. Through Lincoln International, I got in contact with mid-market Private Equity firm Freshstream Investment Partners for an off-cycle internship at their Amsterdam office.
I successfully conducted the internship in the summer of 2023 and am now back at uni for my Master in Finance & Investments at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University. In September, I participated in FSA’s London Banking Tour and through that I secured an internship with Morgan Stanley for Summer 2024.
I have written a blog post to share some of my experiences and insights from my journey so far which I hope will be helpful for those of you that are considering internships in finance and Private Equity more specifically.
To Be Fair: Freshstream Reached Out First
My first contact with Freshstream came about in a bit of an unconventional way. One day during my internship at Lincoln International, I was pulled aside and asked whether I’d be interested in pursuing an internship in Private Equity. It turned out that Freshstream had reached out to see if Lincoln had any interns they’d recommend. As a result, my contact details were passed along to Freshstream and an introductory call between Alexander Wijs and myself took place shortly thereafter.
It might seem counterintuitive that the firm I was interning at would recommend me to another firm for an internship, but it’s important to note that Freshstream does not hire straight out of university. Therefore, Freshstream reaching out actually resulted in a ‘win-win-win’ situation; this way Freshstream was able to source an intern with prior M&A experience and I was given the opportunity to obtain valuable experience which would benefit me, as well as any future employer!
What really motivated me to pursue this opportunity was mainly a combination of two things. Firstly, the people I spoke to at Freshstream made a strong impression on me and seemed like they could teach me a lot during a potential internship. Secondly, it was mentioned during the introduction that Freshstream is very inventive in the way they look at structuring deals and can therefore consider a very wide range of deal situations. This sounded intriguing and to me seemed like a great learning opportunity. I was not disappointed!
The Things that Kept me Busy at Freshstream
I joined Freshstream right after my prior internship and was therefore able to hit the ground running and assist on ongoing projects right away. During my summer at Freshstream I was given the opportunity to work on live deals, as well as portfolio management, both of which were very interesting.
On a day-to-day basis, I spent most of my time in Excel, conducting various analyses. However, the overall workload was very diverse, with activities ranging from financial modelling and liaising with experts to setting up meetings and preparing presentations for the Investment Committee (the group of people that make the ultimate investment decisions within a Private Equity firm).
Working in a close-knit team meant I was present during just about every call and meeting, which was something I hadn’t expected coming into the internship but meant that I was able to learn so much more. Moreover, Freshstream’s London and Amsterdam office collaborate very closely, so I was working together with my colleagues in London on a daily basis as well, including Dutch-speakers who are based in the London office, like Marike Stribos. Freshstream has a relatively small team which means it does not operate in silos. As a result, I was able to do work in the various functional areas next to working with the investment team, ranging from working with the Portfolio Operations & ESG team, which is led by Lodewijk de Graauw, working on legal topics with the in-house Legal Counsel Victoria Swann and working on investor relations with the Head of Investor Relations Jolie von Armin.
What I Liked Most about my PE Internship
I look back at a wonderful time at Freshstream. Having been involved in a wide range of (live) projects and having received a lot of responsibility provided me with ample learning opportunities. The social aspect of my time at Freshstream was something I greatly enjoyed as well, with activities ranging from dining out with the team, to touring the Amsterdam canals by boat. The icing on the cake, however, was attending Freshstream’s summer party in London!
I’ve found Freshstream’s culture a great environment to work in, as I got a lot of responsibility early on, but was always able to ask for help whenever I felt like I needed it. The work at hand could be challenging at times, but it was this challenging nature that I ended up really enjoying. Having done two prior M&A advisory internships, I also personally found it interesting to see things from the buy-side, rather than the sell-side perspective.
What I Wish People Would Have Told me Before
Whilst preparing for my interviews, I focused on trying to memorise as much technical knowledge and common interview questions as possible. Although your technical knowledge is important, it was during my interviews at Freshstream that I found that it is at least equally important to understand the logic behind the technicalities. Especially in the context of having prior internship experience, I’ve found that it’s very important to be able to showcase that you really understand the why, and not just the how.
Whilst preparing for Private Equity interviews, I’ve also found that it’s incredibly useful to research the PE’s portfolio prior to the interview. There’s a good chance the portfolio will come up during the interview so it’s vital to be prepared for this. Lastly, it’s always a good idea to prepare some thoughtful (personalised) questions to ask the interviewer at the end.
The Things I Had Never Realised Before Doing the Internship
Rolling into my internship at Freshstream, there were several things I had never realised until experiencing them firsthand. For example, I didn’t realise how big of an impact the fund’s deal flow will have on your internship experience. I was fortunate enough to spend my time working almost exclusively on live projects, providing me with very interesting and diverse work.
Another very important thing I never realised before interning at a Private Equity firm was the impact it would have on my future opportunities. Working in a team of colleagues that started their careers at various investment banks not only opens a lot of doors but was also a great aid in helping me prepare for my interviews after the London Banking Tour.
What I’d Recommend You to Do
I would definitely recommend you to get in touch with the Freshstream team and apply for an internship at the Amsterdam office. It is a great way to get to know the world of PE and it is also a great gateway into investment banking.
If you are indeed interested in applying for an internship with Freshstream I would recommend you reach out to Alexander Wijs in the Amsterdam office.
You can send him an email at [email protected] or contact him on +31611918974.
Freshstream offers internships for 3-4-month periods throughout the year in their Amsterdam office. Prior M&A internship experience and excellent command of the Dutch and English language are a requirement.