‘Mill-ing Around

My first weeks at Watermill, a blog post by Andrew Lebovitz, Watermill Intern

This spring I found out I got an internship at Watermill and along with excitement, I was also pretty worried. I was not sure how adjusting to a more structured environment would be, an environment where a “dress code” existed, where people sat in cubicles, and where there was a hierarchy.

You see, last summer I spent all my time and energy devoted to EZ Trays, LLC, a company I started with one of my best friends to help students on crutches get around the dining hall. Before the summer, we had taken a class on entrepreneurship, won a business grant from Middlebury were ready to start selling EZ Trays and conquer the food service industry.

While we experienced success, we found that targeting customers and selling products proved more difficult than expected. During the process, I had a great time; not only did I learn a lot about every facet of starting a business (from marketing to coordinating UPS shipments to making balance sheets and even to making the trays themselves), but I had time for some fun. My partner and I rewarded ourselves after completing major goals by either playing a best of seven series of ping pong or by training on the tennis court (I’m on the team at Midd), but the fun also came from the exhilaration of making a sale and attending a huge industry conference, the National Conference for College and University Food Services.

By the end of the summer, though, I was ready for something a little different. Starting a company was exciting but I felt that I needed to practical business experience– there is only so much I could teach myself from internet guides, trial and error, and the occasional class. As an economics major at Middlebury, I applied to Watermill Group thinking it would be interesting to explore the realm of finance, particularly private equity where I would have more exposure to many different business models and business operations. Summer drew nearer and the excitement-worry scale began to tip towards the worrying side, for in addition to my fears about culture and structure I was not sure if my liberal arts education had prepared me to adequately analyze and prepare for a private equity internship as much as someone who was a business major might know.

After two weeks at Watermill, I won’t say that those worries have been completely erased but I am much more excited about what I will learn for the summer and confident about my growing skill set. When I walked into the office and saw the ping-pong table, I immediately grinned. For one, I was confident that I could become office champion (undefeated up to this point) and also it showed me right away that Watermill had a fun side. Every person I’ve been introduced to here has been approachable and very receptive to questions. It seems to be a great place to learn not just private equity related skills but also a number of skills applicable to basically any field: strategy, communication and relationship building to name a few. Predicting the future does not usually go too well but I’m confident that this summer will be really informative and also really enjoyable (even though I have to sit in a cubicle and wear button downs every day #reallife).

June 21, 2013