End Career Goal Private Equity, what should I be doing currently?

Hey,

I'm in my last semester of my undergraduate Finance program at a good business within the state of Illinois (Northern Illinois University), but no where near a target school.
My end career goal is to work at or create a private equity firm.
I was wondering what are the different ways to break into a private equity firm? I know most of the PE associates and analysts are from an investment bank, public accounting or consulting firm. Are these the only ways of breaking into a private equity firm?

Also if I were wanting to go into Investment Banking, in a Boutique or Middle Market, is it better to get into a firm and be on the operational side and hopefully get into the front office or continue trying to break in the front office of different IB?
And what are some tips outside of networking and cold calling to break into Middle Market banks?

Thanks Appreciate anything and everything!

Comments (6)

Best Response
Dec 31, 2015 - 2:18am

Your post sort of goes in a lot of directions. Hopefully this response will be helpful:

First, you're starting to think about this a bit late. Most folks start tackling this IB to PE career path their freshman/sophomore year of college as opposed to the last semester. A lot of the programs you could have used to get into IB you are no longer eligible for. It is very difficult to break into IB without going through the standard internship channels. People do it every year, but it is a very low chance shot you're taking. I would look into J.P. Morgan's junior analyst program. It's crafted for folks like you who might missed the internship boat. Unfortunately, I think they're the only bank on the street with a junior analyst role.

Second, breaking into PE is 10x harder than breaking into banking. You mention the common path in your post. Outside of that career path, it's a long shot. You can go to almost any LinkedIn or PE firm website and you will see their junior staff came from IB, consulting or anther PE role. If you approach any of the headhunters for PE recruiting and you aren't in IB or consulting, I can't see them sending you opportunities at small or large PE shops. It's not impossible, but it is highly unlikely.

Third, switching from a back office to front office role at any firm (buy-side or sell-side) is difficult. It's even tough at the firms that openly champion mobility programs. Again, this isn't impossible, but it is difficult.

If I were in your shoes, I would work my ass off networking to find an IB role asap. I would leverage my alumni network, cold email some folks and have some coffees. Worst case scenario is you find a back office role at a bank and leverage what resources you can internally to try to transition to a front office role.

Starting a PE firm is a completely different beast we should discuss in a few years.

Dec 31, 2015 - 12:39pm
I Invest:

If I were in your shoes, I would work my ass off networking to find an IB role asap. I would leverage my alumni network, cold email some folks and have some coffees. Worst case scenario is you find a back office role at a bank and leverage what resources you can internally to try to transition to a front office role.

Starting a PE firm is a completely different beast we should discuss in a few years.

I think this is a great playbook to get there, but you should also ask yourself "Why you want to be doing PE?". It seems you're making this decision late, but what has prompted the change of heart? Also, as much as the above post is helpful, the "worst case scenario" is not ending up in some back office job at some bank; the reality of it is that ending up at a BO position at a bank is actually the best case scenario for alot of people. If that ends up being the case, you can always try and scrap or lateral your way to a position you want. Best of luck and let us know how it goes.

Play the long game - give back, help out, mentor - just don't ever forget where you came from. #Bootstrapped
  • 4
Mar 3, 2017 - 10:32am

First and foremost thanks for your advice!

I actually did a lot of networking in the span of this post until July 2016. I did not get any PE opportunities, as guessed lol, but was given 4 opportunities in junior research roles & BO for asset managers/MM Ibanks. It was not what I had entailed as I really wanted to get into M&A, but by far am not disappointed in this career path. A large amount of the interviews and networking meetings I had allowed the hiring managers to see my mindset and skillset were great fit for trading/research rather than M&A.

I have been at a large Buy-Side Asset Management Fund since August 2016 (7months now) primarily doing research. This fund has PE/RE as a part of the portfolio and encourage the analysts to do rotations in Research, Trading & PE to become a well rounded individual in all of Investments.

Funny how sometimes opportunities you did not believe to be what you had wanted, turn out to be creating the best foundational work for your career to come.

Jan 6, 2016 - 5:55pm

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