First year PE associate...rolled into PE without much of a break once I got done with my third year in banking. As my username suggests, I am fully burned out, and was fully burned out during my last 8-10 months of banking (though to be fair, I think everyone gets there toward the end).
PE paperwork signing occurs so early that you don't fully have an appreciation for a) what you're currently doing to your body and mind by working 90+ hours a week and b) what ramifications on your body and mind starting another 2 year 80+ hour / week grind will have. When I got my PE offer I thought I was surely going to a far better, more reasonable place - and I thought I was going "all the way" in high finance.
Add another year of banking on top of that and my perspective changed entirely. Don't care about money at all, I save it all because I know that I need to bring my lifestyle back to earth so I don't get sucked into finance long-term. If I could trade it all for $70K working 45 hours a week and when I go home, I don't have to think about work - done.
I get, truly, super depressed when I see people in the world enjoying their lives with dogs and significant others, while I am constantly stressed out and on edge even when I'm not at work. I've been a pretty crappy friend, difficult to my parents because of my incessant complaining about my unhappiness, and generally have become very short with people because I have so little time to myself. And don't get me started on the relationship front. I thought PE was this magical place where all of this would go away, which obviously is not, and almost by definition cannot, be the case.
Working just as hard in PE as in banking, but while the work is more interesting, the volume is unbelievable - in banking you could realistically spend 6 of your 16 hours per day browsing the internet...in PE I still work 14-16 hours a day but I have to be fully engaged and get almost no downtime during the day. It's absolutely exhausting.
Anyway, you get the picture - I'm depressed and I'm down for the count. I've realized I have to get out of finance before it finishes me off, and banking already was a harrowing test for my mental and physical well being (I stress mental because that stuff is real, and I've had a lot of anxiety / obsessive-compulsive issues throughout the years, exacerbated by stress). Now I'm just running on fumes, literally taking it day by day because I'm so beat that the prospect of this being a two-year thing is probably scary enough to cause me to have a brain aneurysm.
WSO - what can I do? And let this be a lesson to you all: a) finance isn't for everyone, b) it doesn't really ever get easier and you can't fake your way into having the personality and intensity level to make it in finance...if you don't have it, you'll never have it. Accept it and move on. I'm learning the hard way that I don't have it. And it's not fun.
Also, if your advice is "this is the opportunity of a lifetime omg man suck it up", save it, because you're probably 17 and think anyone in banking or PE is a demi-god. Until you've tried these things, best to not opine. Few - VERY few - people in finance are happy, and the reasons for it become painfully evident very quickly.
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