Best summer option for breaking into Private Equity post-MBA

Anonymous Monkey's picture
Anonymous Monkey

Hi All -

Hoping for some advice on how to spend my summer to best position myself to break into PE. My basic profile is Ivy League undergrad, post-ugrad experience in management consulting, and currently MBA student at a top business school (H/S/W).

Goal is to break into PE after my MBA (immediately or a few years down the line, if necessary). Looking for your advice on what would be the best way to spend my summer (and beyond, as applicable) to make this happen:

  1. Accept summer offer at a top BB investment bank (GS/MS/JPM)
  2. Accept summer offer at private equity arm of IM firm that does fund-of-funds investing and some co-investments (not traditional direct investing model). Role may or may not include direct deal exposure (TBD)
  3. Decline both offers and hope that I can land a summer offer at a PE firm (risky move given how difficult it is to land a PE job without prior PE/IB experience)

Could really benefit from the group's advice. Thanks in advance for your help!

Comments (8)

Jan 21, 2018

id go with option 1

    • 1
Jan 21, 2018

Option 1 seems strongest.

One of the caveats of coming from a MC background as opposed to IB is that you might not be as strong on the technical / modelling side of things; you'd remove any doubt by interning at a BB.

As for fund-of-funds, the experience will be quite specialized and different from direct PE investing (in my opinion). You might therefore not be readily able to transfer most of the skills you've learned.

    • 1
Jan 21, 2018

Go do IB for a summer. Most importantly, you'll demonstrate your commitment to building your technical / modeling skills, giving you a good story to talk about in PE interviews next fall. Second, it will position you well for full-time recruiting in virtually any industry or role, should the PE thing not work out. Good luck!

    • 1
Jan 22, 2018

1 or 3. Do not do 2.

Jan 23, 2018

Do not do #2. You might have to roll with #1 although you're at a huge disadvantage to MBA students that already have PE experience.

    • 1
Jan 23, 2018

I have your identical background and did option 3. I'm in PE now. PM me.

Best Response
Jan 23, 2018

Option 1 is not a good idea IMHO. Plenty of MBA associates I work with talked about leaving constantly and had a hard time doing so. Whether this is due to their perceived hire-ability by buyside being lower, because they get less institutional support/leeway from their banking group (associates are 'supposed to stay'), or because they have less time to prep and interview than less encumbered analysts, they empirically had a hard time moving to PE. Option 1 also realistically means a commitment for multiple years (Summer + accept + start and work 1+ year) before even beginning to transition.

Option 2 has most of the drawbacks of option 1 plus some (less applicable skill set to PE, limited visibility on deal-flow / industry dynamics). It does have upside though (Meeting managers as part of manager selection = networking & an education, may get some good co-invest experience, buyside role). That said, I fail to see why it would be a better option than #3...

I don't understand why Option 3 is viewed as risky . Assuming you are interested in PE generally and not specifically megafunds, and ideally if you have some geographic flexibility (in the USA even), there's a big universe of funds hiring right now. I find it really hard to believe none of them are doing so through formal recruiting on-campus at an HSW business school. You're every bit as good a candidate (better even) for an associate role as a current post-undergrad MBB associate.

If your goal is to come in above the associate level though, maybe this is a different conversation.

    • 3