Inga Petersen, Investment Associate at Mentha for 3 years, started her journey in Private Equity as an intern. Let’s dive into Inga’s story and how she turned her first internship in Private Equity into a permanent position. Her journey is empowering as much as it is unexpected – it teaches you that sometimes you must have a go-getter attitude to succeed, stay true to yourself and of course, make sure you are well prepared for the things you want to achieve.
After trying out medical school and realising it was not for her, Inga started the Business and Economics programme in Amsterdam. She noticed that finance appealed to her the most, thanks to the combination of three aspects – companies, people, and numbers. That’s why she chose to specialise in Quantitative Finance for her Master’s. She didn’t have a large network in finance back then, so she joined the FSA (Financial Study Association) to get to know people with this background and find out more about the different sectors in finance.
When deciding what sector in finance to specialise in, she kept oscillating between consulting, M&A, and FinTech. Back then, she was not that familiar with Private Equity and thought that you needed to have work experience to get hired. Eventually, Inga learned more about Private Equity through the people she met and the events she attended. She was drawn to the combination of strategy, finance, and execution, as well as the diversity of the work and the close involvement with the portfolio companies.
“In PE, you get really close to the companies in our portfolio and the key people who work there, you spend a lot of time getting to know them – before and after the investment. You’re involved in a lot of different areas – finance, strategy, organisation, processes, people, hiring – everything, really!”
“It’s really important to have faith in yourself. Don’t think ‘this opportunity would be nice, but I will never get it’. Give yourself a chance and try!”
How to turn an internship into a permanent offer?
Inga always had an ingrained curiosity that helped her in her work. She believes it’s good to approach everything with an inquisitive attitude and do your best with what people give you. Here are her top tips that helped her move up the career ladder:
Sometimes you have to speak up to get what you want
If you really want something and you believe it’s a good fit, then speak up and go for it! This is something that helped Inga land her internship at Mentha.
“When I was applying for the internship at Mentha, I tried to prepare, but in hindsight, I did not prepare well enough. After the interviews, I got a call that I was rejected, even though they thought I would be a good fit with the team and my business sense was good. I had not been able to convince them of my technical skills and financial understanding. Also, they weren’t too sure about my motivation – but I was very sure about Mentha.”
Inga was looking for a hands-on and committed company with a closely knitted and authentic team. She wanted to focus on more than just financial returns and performance – she values the impact on companies and people, as well as the broader environmental impact.
All of these are things that she found at Mentha. The team is very down-to-earth, involved, and ambitious. Furthermore, she was enthusiastic about the investment approach aimed at mid-market companies in all kinds of industries, where they often partner with founder-led companies.
After initially just accepting the rejection, Inga thought: “Wait a minute! I can become better at the technical part if I just prepare myself better and if I show them that I am committed. So, I gave them a call and said that I would like to try again. I worked hard to get my technical skills up to par and interviewed again. And then I got hired.”
Fast forward to the present, her favourite part of being an Investment Associate is the diversity: not doing the same all day long, all week long. At the moment, she really enjoys spending more time with the portfolio companies she is responsible for. “I enjoy being involved and close to the companies, but I also like the numerical part – especially finding the story behind the numbers.”