First year associate experience

I'm just gonna share my experience here as a new A1 and see if anyone has experience or see that my experience is normal. I work for a new seed MM fund. Our investment team basically consist of 3 people: the MD, the director/principal, and me. I have a non-traditional background, being recruited from big 4 accounting firm's corfin business. Basically almost everything here is new for me from the way comps are made, investment thesis, etc. A few months into the job, I begin to realize this structure is not ideal. We don't have a VP that can work closely with me and I constantly felt behind due to lots of comments and mistakes. I directly report to the principal/MD which is maddening because there is no one to review my work and these people expect me, a newbie here, to turn in a flawless deliverable in a short period of time. In Big 4, everything is teamwork, but I don't see there is teamwork here nor the support, so I felt all alone in the dark and expected to figure things out myself. What's worse is that I am sometimes asked to turn in progress every 3 hours with sometimes unclear deadline expectations. I have constant anxiety 24/7 and is worried to plan anything in my personal life. One time I had to went back to my desk in the middle of a lunch (that was set a month before) 10km away on Sunday to review IC materials before sending. It also comes off to me that every time there is a request, I have to get on it immediately, 24/7, or maybe it's just me wanting to perform (I got high  ratings in my previous role and was already in supervisory role, so the things happening here is stressing me out). I don't receive the market level compensation for my role (30% increment of my last big 4 salary) so I felt that this is too much pressure and anxiety for little benefit. And these people doesn't seem to care about wellbeing? Working in this kind of environment I think it's appropriate to have insurance program in place just in case, but these people don't care about their health in general. I had four mental breakdowns 5 months into this job, and started taking antidepressants. I had to talk with the principal, which disappointingly only got an advice to reduce the time I spend doing life. The two other people in investment team are graduates from a global flagship PE firm so I guess they're quite high flying themselves and maybe this is normal to them. I wonder if this is actually a normal thing and I'm just at an adjustment phase with a steep learning curve. 

Comments (9)

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kindheartedconsultant, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I boiling it down, I read "Everything in my career sucks and I hate it."

Empathetically, that blows, and I wish it could be better.

Solution-wise, honestly, quit. If you hate your job and life, the comp isn't worth it. Dollars don't make life better if life already sucks.

If you beieve your performance is already low, then well, par for the course to check out and start working with headhunters to lateral somewhere or to go to a place in startups/corporate where bankers who have never touched grass say prestige is lower, when in reality, it's much better for you, your comp, and your life.

Get TF out of there dude. It's not worth it. If you want to grind as hard and make as much $, then go somewhere with 80% of the comp and the start a side business or something.

But don't let some Sophomore at Wharton on WSO dictate your feelings of self-worth with imaginary prestige.

Remember, always be kind-hearted.
  • 4
5d, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Honestly, this has been in the back of my mind for a while. My best exit option would be going for MBA (which I scrapped because I was too preoccupied with work all the time to make the application, wrong move I know. Should have dedicated some time for that) because I'm already burnt from my previous role too. I have told the principal that I'm gonna see how it goes for me, because I don't see this as sustainable (the fire drills, surprise meetings, on call 24/7). He did respond that the expectation is not high, and understand that I'm still at a learning curve, but the part when he said to reduce my personal life I don't know how to react, because he himself live to work, literally. Really wondering if this is normal and something I have to learn to put up with.

  • 1
Smoke Frog, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Sounds like you're just not a good fit for the job.

You don't have direct experience and there is no one to mentor you, so you're kind of set up to fail. Either you will burn out and leave or they will let you go if you continue to mess up in their eyes.

It's always easier to find a new job while still employed, so just start applying now.

ebitduh2016, what's your opinion? Comment below:

GTFO, literally not worth it 

  • 1
OverlyAdjustedEBITDA, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Joining a seed fund is tough given you came from a different background...the founders should have known that so it's a big red flag to me that they didn't consider that or didn't care when they hired you.

Just to provide a bit different advice than the others - if PE was an area that you had been trying to break into for a while and if you still feel like you may be interested being on the investing side longer-term if you were to remove all the cultural / fit issues from your current fund, I would say it's worth directing your efforts to looking at a more established fund where there will be a more structured environment and where you stand a higher chance of development vs. exiting completely at this stage.  It doesn't necessarily sound like you can't handle the job with the right foundation, you are just in a very challenging environment to succeed now.

5d, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Yes, in the beginning I was offered by 3 firms, the other two are established regional firms with higher offering :(. However, this MD really sold me to join. Oh well, I don't see regretting as productive. There is also a non-compete here so I don't know if I can do that. Although seed, these guys are really good, including the legal guy. MD is very good at retaining good talents around him. 

allinamd, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If you head up-market to a bigger firm that works on different type of deals (size, industry, etc.), then I doubt the non compete would have much effect. They can't ban you from the PE industry altogether. I'd review the details of the non compete with a fine tooth comb.

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