Venture Capitalist Offers Students Career Advice

Author: Irla Atanda

Mike Anello

On April 23, students interested in venture capital and private equity participated in a small group discussion led by Mike Anello and sponsored by the Notre Dame Institute for Global Investing (NDIGI). Mike Anello, age 31, is a Notre Dame alum and football player who is the co-founder and Managing Director of M33 Growth, a venture and growth stage investment firm.  M33 Growth recently raised its $180 million debut fund in order to partner with founders and CEOs to help them rapidly scale their companies and succeed in their respective markets.

The small group discussion was highly interactive, and primarily consisted of Anello sharing stories from his time at Notre Dame and stories about his post-graduate career trajectory. He also gave the students helpful advice on career discernment and life in general.

Below are some of the questions students asked Anello, along with his answers:

Q: Can you describe how you networked as an undergraduate student?

A: At Notre Dame, I was a finance major who took pre-med courses in order keep my options open. During my sophomore year, after gaining exposure to the business word, I decided to stop focusing on pre-med and instead decided to crack into the investment banking world before the finance recruiting season.  I began the recruiting process by collecting business cards from ND alums who were working as investment bankers.  I wanted to make a positive impression on these bankers, so I prepared before my interactions with them, and sought out to be one of the top five candidates they remembered.  These connections ended up being crucial in my interviewing process, which eventually led to an internship with UBS Financial Services Inc., in Chicago the summer before my junior year. After this experience, I wanted to explore my interests in hedge funds. Again, I networked. One connection turned into another. Soon enough, my efforts paid off as the kindness of these contacts eventually led to an internship the summer before my senior year with a hedge fund. Networking will always open doors to you, so be proactive, interact with people, and ask good questions about your interests.

Q: How did you choose your first job after graduation?

A: As you start to get offers from different companies, you have to overcome comparing yourself to your peers.  Make sure you are accepting a position that you are being pulled into, not one that you are being pushed into. Don’t just look at the jobs that offer you the most money. Your job is an investment in your future, so focus on careers that will lend themselves to your skill sets and passions. Ask yourself, is this a position I can see myself in 15 to 20 years from now?  Another important thing is to realize that your first job right out of school is all about learning and that no matter what job you get into, about thirty percent of the time, your work will be monotonous, so having the right mentality and a good work ethic is crucial.  

Q: How did you choose the mentors that you have now?

A: I recommend you develop mentoring relationships with three to four mentors from different peer groups. These relationships are essential to your career development, and they also enrich your life in general. The easiest thing to do is to ask someone to grab coffee. After this initial encounter, thank them for their time and ask if you can continue the conversation at a later date. These small talks eventually turn into lifelong friendships. It’s also important to remember that if you don’t connect well with someone, a simple “thank you” will suffice.

Q: How do you recommend college students structure their time?  

A: Everybody’s time and schedule will be different and that’s because everybody has different priorities. I recommend you prioritize a few things in life and build your schedule around those. For instance, the most important thing in my life is building relationships. Surround yourself with good people and everything else will fall into place.

Q: How did you manage the transition between graduation and your job?  

A: Whatever job you step into, you’re not going to know everything. Your classes will only prepare you so much, so it’s important to put in the time and energy to get to know the firm you’re working at so you can do things right. Ninety percent of life is showing up with the right mentality. Be willing to work hard and put in the time and effort.

Mike Anello’s willingness and desire to give back to the Notre Dame community helps strengthen relationships between undergraduate students and the alumni. These alumni are dedicated to helping the next generation succeed in any path that they pursue.