How can one secure an internship in Private Equity at Ardian when coming from a non-target school?

Today, we are sharing the story of a Private Equity intern at Ardian in Paris. He discussed how he prepared for the interviews and ultimately secured his internship despite coming from Audencia, a non-target business school.

Stage Private Equity


Can you tell us more about your background?

After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Economics, I was admitted into Audencia through parallel admission and went on to pursue a master’s degree in Finance.

Following my bachelor’s degree, but prior to joining Audencia, I completed my first internship in Sales at Banque Populaire. Although my initial interest was in exploring the financial markets, I realized that this sector wasn’t for me. During my time at school, I discovered a passion for corporate finance and decided to focus on this area.

Therefore, I completed the first part of my internship in FIG Coverage at ING in Paris while studying at Audencia. For the second part of my internship, I joined Ardian’s Private Equity – Corporate Development team.

What motivated you to pursue an internship in Private Equity?

At the beginning of the year, I frequently read financial news, which led me to discover the profession of Private Equity – a field that I wasn’t familiar with prior to joining Audencia. I was intrigued by the significant impact that investment funds could have on the development of companies they support. As investors, we have an essential role to play in collaboration with company managers. It is this tangible aspect of the job that drew me to Private Equity.


What are your daily responsibilities as a Private Equity intern at Ardian?

As part of Ardian’s Corporate Development team, we work closely with Dominique Senequier, Ardian’s president and founder. This team offers tailored investment solutions to specific clients. Our objective is to determine their expectations, risk tolerance, and investment horizon. Once these have been established, we create an investment proposal that aligns with these criteria. The Corporate Development team works with all types of companies and asset classes in conjunction with teams from each segment (growth, expansion, buy-out, funds of funds, etc.).

This internship provides a holistic view of Private Equity within one of the most influential players in the industry.


Could you describe the structure of Ardian and your team?

Ardian (formerly known as AXA Private Equity) is an autonomous investment fund founded in 1996 by the current president, Dominique Sénéquier. With over $150 billion in assets under management, Ardian operates in Europe, America, Asia and the Middle East, catering to an extensive range of clients, including public organizations, institutions, pension funds and private investors. While the primary offices are located in Europe, Ardian operates on a global scale.

Our business is divided into several segments, including Fund of Funds, Buy Out (supporting mid and large cap companies with growth strategies through mergers and acquisitions), Expansion (investing in lower mid-cap companies for their fast-paced growth strategies), Co-investment (taking a minority ticket alongside other PE players), Growth (helping national sector company managers to expand internationally), Infrastructure, Private Debt, and Real Estate.

Additionally, Ardian offers customized investment solutions for certain clients, which we refer to as “Customer Solution.” The Corporate Development team at Ardian works with all segments of the company and assists in creating tailored investment solutions for specific clients.


Can you tell us about your interview preparation?

The recruitment process at Ardian moved swiftly, with an interview invitation extended in early June and an offer made the following day. During the interview, the emphasis was on fit and my understanding of Private Equity. Specifically, I was asked questions regarding LBOs and their specificities.

I ensured that I demonstrated my research on the company during the interview. I exhibited my familiarity with the fund, and that my application aligned with Ardian’s objectives and values, particularly in relation to Socially Responsible Investment.


Did you find enough resources to prepare your interviews?

No, at the time of my interviews, I was not aware of Invest Prep, and I found it challenging to find resources to prepare for Private Equity interviews.

As a result, my early interviews were quite challenging. For instance, I had an interview in Leveraged Finance at a large French boutique, where I faced many technical questions that made me feel uneasy. Although I had talked to a former trainee and was aware of the technical nature of the questions, I was not sure how to prepare for them. During the interview, I was presented with a practical case, which consisted of three exercises. The first one was about EBITDA multiples, the second was about depreciation and amortization, while the last one focused on analyzing the acquisition of a company, including the multiple and the debt level.


How did you go about promoting your application given that Audencia is not a target school? Did you have a specific strategy to navigate the screening process?

In my quest for a second internship, I sent out 341 applications and was eventually contacted by 25 different companies. It was a real challenge to navigate the recruitment process.

During this period, I actively tried to network and made contact with several professionals by sending messages to people I had something in common with. I always made a point of having common contact points at the outset to make connections easier.

With Ardian, I didn’t use my network; I simply followed the standard online application process. However, once I was contacted, I promptly reached out to a former intern to gain insight into the interview process. I made a habit of doing this systematically.

However, I didn’t focus on having an impactful resume or cover letter. My resume was traditional and I only made some adjustments to my cover letter based on the job offers. Nevertheless, my tactic was to reply to each application within 48 hours, in order to be in the first group of candidates.

Despite this, I felt that as a student from Audencia, I was in the second wave of selected candidates. Often, candidates from top business schools are given preference, so it is crucial not to miss out on any interview opportunities.


Finally, do you have any advice for our readers interested in private equity?

Certainly! My advice for those interested in private equity would be to thoroughly prepare for their interviews. It is important to have a solid understanding of the fit part of an interview and be able to clearly articulate your motivation and goals. Your presentation should be well-organized and coherent.

It is also crucial to carefully prepare for the technical questions to avoid being caught off-guard during the interview.

For those looking to prepare for their private equity interviews, I recommend checking out our complete Private Equity training program. This program includes modules on understanding the world of private equity, preparing for fit and motivation questions, and mastering technical topics such as accounting, valuation, modeling, and financial and legal structuring.