When rising Lincoln University junior Cobree Hooper first found out about a venture capital internship, she was originally skeptical.
“At the time, I didn’t even know what venture capital was,” Hooper said. “I started doing my research about investments, what they were a part of, and how business worked and I realized this was something I could actually be interested in.”
Hooper, 20, is among seven local college students participating in the Steppingstone Scholars Inveniam Equity Internship, a program that provides Black and brown college students with opportunities in underrepresented industries like private equity, investment management, and venture capital.
She is currently interning at SVPGlobal, a global investment firm with more than $15 billion in assets under management.
Hooper recently completed the program’s “prep week” of training where she learned elevator pitches, how to communicate ideas, how to make a business portfolio and networking.
She has been involved with the education nonprofit Steppingstone Scholars since elementary school. She is majoring in business management at Lincoln.
“The internship is Monday thru Friday from 9am to 5pm,” Hooper said. “I log in and work independently on my projects until my daily Zoom call with my manager. There may also be some professional developments.
“I want to see some real-world applications of things I’ve been learning,” she added. “I’ve been working within accounting, but I haven’t really applied it outside of my own personal finance. I’m hoping to get a deeper understanding of investments and when to take risks.”
The six-week internship provides students with one-on-one coaching and structured professional guidance including a network of mentors they can go to for advice and future job hunting.
The equity-minded internship was born from the #hireandwire movement, a call to hire Black talent and fund Black-owned companies. The movement was ignited during the call for racial justice last summer.
In addition to SVPGlobal in Greenwich, Connecticut, Hirtle Callaghan & Co in the Philadelphia area, and Moore Capital Management in New York City will also be sponsoring the internships this year.
In-person and virtual opportunities will vary firm to firm due to COVID-19, however, all firms are planning for an in-person engagement during the program.
“Investment management, private equity, and venture capital are not spaces in which many Black and brown students have been exposed,” said Chris Avery, vice president of Steppingstone Scholars.
“This partnership with SVPGlobal, Hirtle Callaghan and Moore Capital Management is a first step in creating new career pathways to key industries that have been historically underrepresented in terms of race,” Avery said.
“Not only will these companies be mentoring the students and giving them hands-on experiences within the wealth management industry, but they will also be helping the students get jobs upon graduation from college,” he added.
Avery said Steppingstone Scholars will continue to offer the Inveniam Equity Internship in the future.
“The feedback that we have been receiving from the companies and the students about the internships have been great,” Avery said. “We definitely want to continue to offer this internship to college students in the future.
“We’ve already hired several companies that would like to be a part of the internship next summer, ”he added. “Our goal is to really create a pipeline of students to this industry.”
For Saleh Ibrahim, a rising junior in finance at Temple University, the internship is an opportunity for him to sharpen his knowledge on different career paths in his field. Ibrahim,19, is also interning at SVPGlobal.
“I’m learning about the different jobs the firm offers and how the firm works overall, specifically in the Human Resources department,” Ibrahim said. “We recently had a session where we went over finance topics and stocks.
“Prior to the internship, I was actually thinking about changing my major, but now I’m going to stick with it,” he added. “I’ve seen so many different directions I can go career wise. The opportunities in this field are endless.”