Nova Founders – the Danish founded venture builder are looking for interns to their London office. It’s a unique learning opportunity for students who want’s some hands on experience before starting university. Link to the job description here.
We sat down with founder and serial entrepreneur Stefan Bruun to hear more about the internship and what it is like to work at Nova Founders.
What experience and skills does the ideal intern for/at Nova Founders have?
The ideal candidates are (not in prioritized order):
- Both book- and street smart
- Responsible and disciplined
- Good with people
Describe the number one trait you look for in applicants?
It’s hard to highlight just one trait. If I take the above: We need the candidates to have a good engine. A lot of mental horsepower – but not just the classic book smarts of remembering facts but it is important that they “get it”. It’s hard to describe, but it’s very easy to observe. We call that street smarts.
If the applicant isn’t driven, responsible, and disciplined, then she depends on a leader to drive her forward and check all the work closely which is not always easy in a very decentralized setup like ours. Being structured helps break down problems which help you solve the right problems. A lot of people don’t spend enough time breaking down a problem and end up solving the “wrong” problem – or at least not the biggest one.
While the above relates to productivity – i.e. how much the candidate can accomplish over a certain time period, it’s important that she is able to work hard as well. When we build companies from scratch, it would be arrogant of us to believe we could beat the incumbents only due to smarts – we must be willing to put in the effort as well. The adage of working “smart, not hard” is wrong. Most people need to do both to be successful.
The final two points say more about the potential of the candidate. If they cannot engage with other people or if they aren’t self-aware enough to reflect on their own mistakes so as to learn from them, then they will have a hard time evolving past their initial roles.
As you can see, the challenge is that missing a trait means that there are some areas to make up for. That said, if you are smart, self-aware and hardworking, the rest can often be learned.
What kind of tasks / roles can the intern be expected to perform?
Whether you are the intern or the CEO, we are all here to build a company. Every day, we ask ourselves about the bottlenecks of the business: What is right now holding us back from reaching, say, EUR 100m of revenue? Once we have the answer, we work on that. Most businesses can be divided into different functions: Sales, marketing, operations, tech/product, and finance. Our people work across those areas.
What are your career options following the internship?
For the interns who are doing an excellent job, we offer them the opportunity to join our Intern to CEO program where we coach them and provide opportunities for them to develop in various full-time roles with us while they complete their bachelor on the side. We commit to ensuring that upon completion of the program they will be offered a CEO role in one of our companies.
To me, that’s such a great opportunity because we work together with a commitment to developing the career and set a steep trajectory early on.
Biggest asset of being/having been an intern at Nova Founders?
Coaching and development. People who join our team are participating on an equal footing with the rest of the team. It doesn’t matter how old you are or what your background is, we are a meritocracy and people will accelerate as quickly as their development and performance allow.
Practically, this means that they develop a toolbox of skills that is very uncommon for their age. For our previous interns who did not continue in the Intern to CEO program, we see that they secure internships and student jobs that are usually reserved for more senior students.
Advice for students or to be graduates on how to deal with COVID 19 (lack of jobs)?
Get the most out of this opportunity! Learn something new, build a network, become an expert on something. Don’t waste all the time playing FIFA. This is such a great opportunity and the resources are all available online for free or at a very affordable price. There is really no excuse except for laziness.
Make this an opportunity – future employers will be impressed about how you learned to code or speak Spanish during the quarantine. They won’t give you much credit for your improvements in some computer game.
Link to the job description here.