Q&A: Non-target->BB->PE->HF (thank you, WSO)
Hello everyone - never posted on WSO before or even had an account for that matter but through my recruiting for IB, PE, andfound many times that the community here is very helpful so without having any clout here figured I give you a brief background on my experience and I'm happy to answer any and all questions that you might find helpful - by no means am I using this as a "look at me how amazing I am you need my advice" - but I am simply trying to extend a thank you to the community for all the help I have received and looking to give something back
As the forum, the topic title says that has been my path so far, and I'm happy to answer any question on any part of the process. Below is a more detailed look at how things played out
Went to a decent non-target school. The school itself is fairly decent and does tend to send a handful of people to (mostly) S&T positions but does always have at least access to IB positions as well. I graduated ~4 years ago so back then interviews were first semester of Junior year, I spent pretty much all of my sophomore year networking w/ both school alumni and non-alumni (surprisingly the non-alumni were sometimes more helpful). I looked at IB the same way I looked at the college process - you apply to ~7-8 places - 2-3 are reaches, 2-3 are "I think I could get in and I'd be happy to" and 2-3 are your "better than nothing."
Time is clearly limited and it's tough to make a good impression everywhere so the way it ultimately boiled down to me as I had my #1 choice, then 3 places I had a good network at, and then 2-3 places that I didn't really want to take but would have been fine doing it. I got lucky that two of my top 4 places (including my #1) went first so once I got the offer at my #1 spot I canceled everything else. One of the benefits of going to a non-target was that my school was really solid in accounting and banking itself is somewhat applied accounting dragged to the right so I had a leg up going in and then helped me do relatively well on the "technical" aspect of the job
Went to banking knowing I'd be out but wanted to get the most out of it - picked a coverage group that was extremely busy and did everything in-house - that was a blessing and a curse because you learn a lot and you do a lot, but that also means that you don't get weekends the 3AMs are constantly a thing and forget about sleep. I got lucky because during my little over a year & a half there I managed to close a buy-side deal, IPO, and debt financing (thank god I never had to do a sell-side or dual-track). I absolutely hated my experience as I was going through it (no sleep, way too much work, literally no days off (with the occasional half a Saturday off)) but looking back it definitely helped me out a lot over the next few years - again I think that might be just because I got lucky with projects - I knew people who had been there for 3 years never closed anything but that's not really their fault.
PE (for whatever reason):
I never really had that much interest in PE but I got swept in with everyone else (everyone in my analyst class ended up doing it) and figured i'd give it a shot. Landed a pretty decent gig at a relatively large~ish shop. What was great about it was all the structured equity/debt/mezz investments the fund did as well as control and minority investments. Learning the financial engineering part of it was pretty fascinating for me but the work itself....was just meh. My biggest issue with PE was that especially at the early stages (Associate - VP) a good solid majority of your value-add is knowing how to navigate the process and I never really had an interest in that nor did I have the patience for it frankly. I absolutely loved digging deep into companies, coming up with all the fancy structured products, analyzing how they could play out and what the ultimate return looks like ...but for every interesting analysis you run, there are about 5x more things you gotta deal with that for me were just painful - accounting firms, lawyers, HR consultants - just all that jazz I could go without
I had been somewhat digging around after a little over a year in PE and once I finally decided that I want out and want to try to make the jump - luck worked in my favor and a recruiter reached out with a really great opportunity I jumped at. I was interviewing at several places (including your typical pod shops) but really what I was looking for was a fundamental L/S bottoms-up fund that won'quarters - and that's where I ended up. Been here for about a year now and couldn't be happier (it was really my dream job coming out of college). The best part about the job is that I never do something that isn't useful, there just isn't any time for that - that frustration grew for me while I was in banking and PE and so now knowing that everything I do is actually important for our decision making just gives you a bit of a relief that what you're doing matters. The work itself is a lot, I mean my hours sometimes mimic banking I am not going to sugar coat it but for me, it feels like half that just because the work is fascinating.
That being said - I am happy to give color/details on all of the above, the recruiting process for each, the day-to-day whatever you all might find helpful as you're going through your professional development
And lastly, a huge thank you to the WSO community because I don't know if I'd be where I am if it wasn't for all you guys/gals