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A few summers ago I worked for my state's treasury as a summer intern doing grunt work (Scanning, coffee, etc.). Yesterday my old boss introduced me to the Senior Investment Officer responsible for my states investments in Private Equity funds. People at the treasury have told me he's been doing this job for 24 years and that he's on the short list of every PE firm, from the large like KKR to the small like the Riverside Company. Rumor has it according to one person I know that he could connect me with the right people to get an internship at a great PE firm this summer. He gave me his card and told me to call him sometime.

I've got a great resume and worked at a top asset management company last summer (think BlackRock) in NYC. GPA of 3.93 at a non-target, leadership positions in clubs throughout college in 5+ different clubs ranging from managing a fixed income portfolio in a student investment club to treasurer in an actuarial science club. I have a solid background and resume but I'm afraid of what I don't know and I want to take advantage of this possible opportunity.

This could be a moment which defines a large part of my life.

My question is, how should I approach him about my interest in an internship/career in PE? What questions should I be asking and what should I know that I might not know? Has anyone ever had a similar experience like this?

Comments (8)

  • USC8888's picture

    1. Get in touch with the Senior Investment Officer guy
    2. Ask him to meet for coffee - this is a relationship you should really build. Best to do it in person rather than over the phone
    3. Prepare a couple of questions you NEED answers to, but don't come with a list of 10 and read straight off that list
    4. Meet him and ask the questions you prepared. Then ask anything about everything. As in, once you've asked the key questions you have, just have a regular conversation about anything else you're curious about. This guy sounds like he is really willing to help him out. USE him. Just be sure to express an interest in PE and make sure that your intelligence comes across by being eloquent, asking good questions and demonstrating knowledge
    4. Follow up with him and ask if he could refer you to others. From there, repeat the above

    This is an amazing opportunity, don't blow it! You have a very strong background already. That with the right connections could lead to amazing opportunities.

  • rpc's picture

    Yes, it's called networking...It's as simple as a brief introduction and asking if you could meet with him/talk to him about his career in private equity. Express your interest in the field and be prepared when you end up talking to him.

  • Sandhurst's picture

    Clients of companies in which you're interested are hands-down the best networking contacts. That shithead with a 2.7 in your bulge-bracket intern class didn't get there because his daddy is-or-isn't an MD. He got there because his godfather's a client CEO, who only had to mention in passing that his godson was applying to seal the deal.

    So yeah, this is a (potentially) great relationship to have. Sit down with him and be honest. Talk to him about your private equity aspirations. The best part here is you don't have to treat him like a banker - he doesn't need to hear some bullshit reason for why you're committed to banking for the long haul. He may be familiar with the PE recruiting process, but maybe not, so after you feel him out you can briefly sketch it out.

    The best part about this introduction you got is it was explicitly about setting you up with these funds. I'd ask him for perspective on the industry (his take has got to be unique), introductions to the funds, and ideally support with the few that recruit undergrads (Carlyle, Bain Cap, Audax, etc).

    Good luck, feel free to PM me with questions.

    "There are three ways to make a living in this business: be first, be smarter, or cheat."

  • LevFun's picture

    The advice of nurturing the relationship in person cannot be overstated enough. I had a similar connection a while back and still continue to email, call, and every time I'm in town have lunch/dinner with him and catch up on his family and life. By nurturing the relationship and making sure it wasn't all about me getting something from him (which obviously is something that happens... but isn't the ENTIRE relationship) I've gotten intros with hedge fund managers, PE, CEOs etc). This is your chance so follow the advice of those above and make sure to have a real connection and not just your industry questions (definitely have them and be to the point but don't be afraid to "shoot the shit" for a while and become friends too) so that the connection endures.

    GOOD LUCK!

    "Money was never a big motivation for me, except as a way to keep score. The real excitement is playing the game." - Donald Trump

  • In reply to Sandhurst
    Formula_Uno's picture

    Sandhurst:
    Clients of companies in which you're interested are hands-down the best networking contacts. That shithead with a 2.7 in your bulge-bracket intern class didn't get there because his daddy is-or-isn't an MD. He got there because his godfather's a client CEO, who only had to mention in passing that his godson was applying to seal the deal.

    So yeah, this is a (potentially) great relationship to have. Sit down with him and be honest. Talk to him about your private equity aspirations. The best part here is you don't have to treat him like a banker - he doesn't need to hear some bullshit reason for why you're committed to banking for the long haul. He may be familiar with the PE recruiting process, but maybe not, so after you feel him out you can briefly sketch it out.

    The best part about this introduction you got is it was explicitly about setting you up with these funds. I'd ask him for perspective on the industry (his take has got to be unique), introductions to the funds, and ideally support with the few that recruit undergrads (Carlyle, Bain Cap, Audax, etc).

    Good luck, feel free to PM me with questions.

    I am also in a similar situation and I'd like to PM you for perspective, but I don't have enough banana points. Maybe I can get your email?

    sorry for the hijack

  • In reply to Sandhurst
    Formula_Uno's picture

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