My name is Braden Koch, and I will be graduating in January 2023. I am majoring in Strategic and Corporate Communication and minoring in Leadership Studies. From May through December of this year, I was the Marketing Intern for Norwest Venture Partners, an investment firm based in the San Francisco Bay Area. The firm focuses its investments in early to late-stage businesses in the consumer, enterprise, and healthcare sectors.

I found this opportunity through some good ol’ fashioned networking with my connections back at home in northern California. I reached out to a family friend, Katie Belding, the Partner of Portfolio Services at Norwest. Her daughter and I performed in multiple stage productions together back in high school. I was particularly interested in Belding’s communication and public relations background and education. I saw overlap between her interests and mine, so I asked if she could point me in the right direction as I searched for communication and marketing internships. She connected me with the marketing team at Norwest, and I discussed with them how a marketing internship with the firm could be a possibility.

The Norwest marketing team (left to right): Lia Hanson (Senior Director, Events), Lisa Ames (Chief Marketing Officer), Braden Koch (Marketing Intern), Kate Dishaw (Director of Communications), Glen Kunene (Senior Director, Editorial)

I reported to the Director of Communications, Kate Dishaw, on the marketing team, which is within the firm’s Portfolio Services division. Portfolio Services refers to the network and resources Norwest provides to its over 200 portfolio companies the firm invests in. My range of responsibilities included crafting conference briefs and social media copy. Also, I monitored Norwest and their portfolio companies’ online activity and press coverage. Additionally, I completed market research on competitive activity and analyzed social media engagement. Furthermore, I assisted with in-person and webinar-style brand and networking events. 

One major project and success story I was part of was helping create Norwest’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEI&B) Toolkit with the Senior Director of Events, Lia Hanson, under time constraints. The DEI&B Toolkit was recently released to the firm’s over 200 portfolio companies. It is designed for the portfolio companies’ CEOs, founders, and their People teams. It provides operational guidance on how to attract, select, retain, and develop a diverse and inclusive workforce. Katie Belding sent a firm-wide message that mentioned my significant contributions to the project. Belding said, “Thanks to all of those who contributed to this toolkit which was a massive effort, particularly Lia Hanson and our intern, Braden Koch, who took the lead designing the look and feel of the DEI&B website and brought this to the finish line.”

Several courses within the School of Communication helped me be successful in my position.  For example, Marketing Through the Communicator’s Lens, or SCC 305, provided a solid base with lectures and discussions about consumer behavior, audience segmentation, market research, and beyond. Additionally, Training and Consulting in the Corporate Context, or SCC 410, directly applied to my internship, specifically with the creation of DEI&B Toolkit. Included in the kit are sample presentations, worksheets, surveys, and email communications. When editing and providing feedback on these templates, I referred back to major course concepts from SCC 410, especially from the unit about developing strong objectives and designing curriculum.

New associates sailing trip on San Francisco Bay

My advice for students who are searching for internships is to remain strong when faced with rejections, take advantage of your network and connections, and keep your options open. After multiple rejection emails for positions in Orange County, a place where I only have a few connections, I refocused my job search to my home in the San Francisco Bay Area. Reaching out to my network at home, with people who have known me for years, produced far more responses and opportunities. I was initially reluctant to intern at an investment firm because I had little to no knowledge about how venture capital and private equity works. However, I did my homework, had informational calls with Katie Belding, and educational sync-ups with my manager. I like to say my manager, Kate Dishaw, has been my “VC professor,” and I would not have been as comfortable talking about and working in the investment firm if she had not been there to support me. 

I am thankful for my experience as the Marketing Intern at Norwest as well as the many courses and resources the School of Communication provided to prepare me for success. These experiences will be relevant and helpful for my short-term and long-term career goals. My time at Norwest and the School of Communication has been an invaluable investment for my future career and personal growth. With this internship under my belt, I’m better prepared for my job search post-graduation. My connections have expanded tenfold from my internship, and I have made new friends as well as mentors.