MBA Trailblazer

During Week 2 of the 100 Week Sprint™, we discussed various options that upcoming MBA students might pursue to fully leverage the period before they start classes—one of the most powerful is seeking out pre-MBA internships. We wanted to follow up on that advice with a quick story about one MBA student who actively pursued one such opportunity and has benefited from it ever since.

After a successful career in consulting, Brian Galgay was accepted to NYU Stern in the 2011/12 application cycle.  He knew that, post-MBA, he wanted to land in the Venture Capital world with a focus on tech—but he also knew that successfully making such a leap would take a lot of effort!  It’s true that just 3% of 2012 Stern graduates entered VC positions after graduating (and it’s even more challenging at other top schools—for example, both Columbia and Booth placed less than 1% of graduating students in VC roles). However, Brian is not one to be dissuaded by simple odds.  He recognized that he could get a leg up on the process before business school even started.

We sat down to talk with Brian about how he found his pre-MBA internship, what he learned from the experience, and how he has been able to leverage it since.

What did you do for your pre-MBA internship?

I spent the spring and early summer before school working as an intern to the CEO at Condition One, a New York-based company that provides innovative embeddable video technology.

How did you find the opportunity?

LinkedIn played a pivotal role in my search—networking led me to a former colleague, who introduced me to a second degree connection associated with the startup accelerator Tech Stars. We talked about her experience in Tech Stars and she was willing to introduce me to others associated with the organization.  Eventually, this led to a connection to the CEO of Condition One, which led to my internship.

Was this a paid internship?

I went into this experience with no expectation of being paid.

What type of work did you do? What did you enjoy most?

Over my time at Condition One, I tackled pretty much whatever they needed me to do.  After a while, I realized that what I enjoyed most was working with the CFO in a coaching capacity to help build out pro-forma financials. It reinforced my interest in venture capital – I like the idea of providing support to innovators.

How was the internship helpful?

The internship helped me to definitively establish my interest, differentiating me from other consultants who were also looking to make this transition.  It has led to more opportunities during my time at school that have helped me to get closer to my goals.  This includes an internship this fall at Investor Growth Capital, a VC and Growth Equity Firm focused on healthcare and technology.  I am convinced that this start-up experience was helpful in getting accepted to the INSITE Fellowship program, which brings together a select group of graduate students with NYC-based start-ups and venture capitalists—it’s been an extraordinary mentorship opportunity. I believe that my summer internship with Canaan Partners in NYC is also a result of all of these experiences—and everything links back to my pre-MBA internship.

Are you planning on trying to do VC full-time?

Absolutely!  Despite pressure to lock something up early in a more traditional, stable industry, I am committed to using my two years at Stern as a platform to really explore tech VC in New York. Even if I were to graduate without a job (editor’s note: unlikely), I am confident that I will find something rewarding. I can be patient!

Where does that confidence come from?

From a lot of places: a supportive family, a great education. And, most recently, from a battle with cancer.  I celebrated five years of being cancer-free during my first term of school at Stern.  The experience has been an incredible gift—I make the most of time that I have and pursue opportunities that I believe will have an impact. That desire to make change isn’t at all limited to my work, either: I have become very involved with the Esophageal Cancer Awareness Association, most recently serving as board president.