November 9, 2018
Carmen Evola joined the Blackford Capital Team only a few months ago and is already making an impact as the company’s newest Managing Director. Mr. Evola is the Fund Manager for the Michigan Prosperity Fund and also directly oversees the Portfolio Company Operations Team. Using his prior fifteen years of experience, Mr. Evola has already proven to be a valuable asset to Blackford Capital. Read more about Carmen Evola here.
We put our new MD, Carmen Evola, in the hot seat to learn more about him and his first few months at Blackford Capital.
Q: Where were you employed before joining Blackford Capital?
Carmen: I was President and CEO of Vari-form Group (formerly Crowne Group), a manufacturer of automotive and industrial components to the Original Equipment Industry in metals, plastics and hydroforming.
Q: How did you first learn about Blackford Capital?
C: I was introduced to Blackford Capital by Brian Kaminski, CEO of Burgaflex. Brian and I worked together at Crowne Group.
Q: What had you heard about Blackford Capital prior to joining the team?
C: That Blackford is a growing firm with tremendous upside.
Q: Why did you choose to join Blackford Capital?
C: To be part of building a strong foundation for continued growth.
Q: When you started, what were your first impressions of Blackford?
C: The extremely hardworking and talented team members at the firm, in the portfolio companies, and on the board of directors.
Q: How was your transition into the Company?
C: My transition in joining Blackford Capital was very smooth. The Blackford team, PC leadership teams, board members, and investors have all been so welcoming and willing to spend extended time with me to bring me up to speed.
Q: How is Blackford Capital different from other places you have worked in the past?
C: Blackford Capital provides an extremely collaborative work environment at all levels of the firm, PC leadership teams, board of directors, and limited partners.
Q: What has been your main focus since joining Blackford Capital?
C: I’ve been primarily focused on working with the Blackford Capital team and portfolio company teams to develop top priority trackers for value creation, standardized scorecards, and KPIs.
Q: What is your favorite part about working at Blackford Capital?
C: It’s an extremely fast-paced environment with latitude for key decision making.
August 9, 2018
Challenging internships can be invaluable, especially in highly competitive industries. For interns to gain the most value and hands-on experience possible, internship programs need to include a few specific features to improve interns’ business acumen and future job hunts.
Before diving into these key aspects of effective internships, let’s talk about why people entering today’s workforce (or pivoting to new careers) should consider internships over entry-level positions. Internships allow participants to gain experience in an area of interest before committing to a career, and these programs open up doors for networking. This means that internships can help college students maximize the value of their degrees by providing them with opportunities to “test” their chosen career paths before going all in.
Furthermore, starting good habits early in a career is important. Internships help position prospective workers in challenging roles or under managers who teach them how to operate successfully under high expectations. The challenges that accompany internships increase interns’ work quality and make them more appealing candidates for future opportunities.
Emphasize Learning Above All Else
Let’s look at what makes an internship a “good” one. Here are some key features to look for as indicators of top-quality internship programs:
More than anything, internships should be opportunities for learning. To foster real growth, internship programs should allow interns to feel that they are truly part of the company and can safely ask questions.
Prospective Interns Who Stand Out
Now that we know what constitutes a great internship, let’s talk about great interns. To land an internship, interns’ résumés and interviews need to be perfect. The résumés should be triple-checked to ensure that formatting (font, colors, spacing, etc.) is consistent and that the entire document is error-free.
During the interview, it should be apparent that the internship prospect researched the company and industry beforehand and came prepared to ask thoughtful questions. Great internship candidates are also those involved (preferably in leadership roles) in on-campus activities, like clubs and groups, that help define their career paths. This shows a true interest in the field.
Beyond sparkling résumés, interviews, and extracurriculars, great interns show initiative to learn quickly. They are well-informed because they’ve taken the time to develop necessary skills through online programs or peers, they take extensive notes throughout their internship process, and they are self-directing but not afraid to ask questions.
Blackford Capital Examples
Sharing this advice is all well and good, but it doesn’t mean much if we aren’t backing it up at our own company. At Blackford, we typically look for interns who are involved in some sort of financial investment club and have good understandings of the private equity industry as well as our company. We prefer they have strong technical skills and show an eagerness and willingness to learn and work hard. We’re then mindful to give them hands-on responsibilities that allow them to own a function that impacts the company.
For example, Blackford interns own our deal-sourcing process. They are very hands-on when it comes to selecting deals for the team to consider. Being such an integral part of this process helps our interns understand the purpose of the business and how to think and act like investors. Also, if we move forward with the deals they select, they make significant contributions to the company.
“Blackford provided a unique experience, allowing us to dive headfirst into the world of private equity. This internship has been full of good learning experiences and has provided me skills that will help greatly with future employment.”
— Andrew Jenks, junior analyst
Before digging into deal-sourcing, however, we provide two weeks of structured training and on-boarding. We also offer a variety of shadowing opportunities within our internship program that allow interns to sit in on various calls and meetings with every team. This allows our interns to learn a variety of functions within the company instead of limiting their learning to their specific responsibilities or teams.
In addition, Blackford interns help with other teams’ projects and visit our local portfolio companies to meet members of the management team. When the internships end, we hold career workshops to provide interns with valuable tips on making connections for their future full-time roles.
The interns who displayed strong drive and gained substantial knowledge have been those who have worked hardest to research the most deals and ensure they’re recommending the best options to the team. If a deal is picked, the intern works hand-in-hand with senior management to help run that deal through the whole transaction process. Others who have gone above and beyond have asked to be involved in outside projects (like working on add-on deals for various portfolio companies or assisting in creating board materials, reporting packages, or fundraising documentation), which we always allow.
“Working at Blackford has presented an unmatched opportunity. The internship lets you gain real-world experience through its hands-on approach. Unlike other internships, Blackford allows you the freedom to be innovative, creative, and unleash your full potential. The people that work at Blackford want you to succeed and help you along the way. The skills that I have gained from Blackford are invaluable and will help me as I begin my career.”
— Dan Cook, investor relations intern
To learn more about Blackford Capital career opportunities, please visit our Careers page.