Gap period between IB and PE

Accepted an on-cycle PE associate gig for a summer 2022 start. Ever since taking the job I've felt checked out mentally, which has made me consider quitting early to go live up in the mountains all winter to snowboard.

Anyone have thoughts on if my new company would be fine with this and/or if it'd be worth it, even if it meant forgoing my bonus?

Way I'm looking at it right now is that it's obviously not financially responsible, but would probably be the last time I could spend all winter in the mountains while still young.

Curious to hear thoughts on this before I start exploring it more serious and discussing the idea with my future employer.

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Comments (59)

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Nov 3, 2021 - 9:33pm

Anyone have thoughts on if my new company would be fine with this and/or if it'd be worth it, even if it meant forgoing my bonus?

Just ask them. I asked my PE firm if I could take a new job and they were fine with it. Then I asked if I could quit and take 3-4 months off before starting and they were also fine with it. They could have said no, which would have been fine, too, because then I would have just had to deal with it. But the only bad outcome would have been had I either changed jobs or taken time off, not asked, and then they ended up not being cool with it. Don't leave it to chance. 

Nov 13, 2021 - 4:40pm

Do it - and if you end up in Summit County send me a PM.

I've regularly taken stints between jobs to enjoy my passions (skiing and sailing). It allowed me to reset and be more focused on my work when I needed to push my limits. Generally I have found that people I work with/for have found it interesting that I have these unique experiences and it has actually helped me connect better with many senior folks who are in a stage of life where they are trying to do similar things themselves. 

This certainly wont work for everyone in all positions but it may work for you. Just remember to always be upfront with the people you work with or are about to go work with.

  • Principal in PE - LBOs
Nov 3, 2021 - 10:03pm

Didn't you just spend 4 years in college? And before that 4 years in high school? What were you doing then, getting your CPA?

If this is your mentality now, do yourself a favor and just leave the industry outright, or it's going to be tough slog for you.

To answer your question, no of course they won't be okay with you leaving your job early. Which I'm guessing you already know. I doubt you were telegraphing this vagabond snow bunny persona when you were interviewing. Instead you were probably playing the part of a blood sucking money hungry aspe cyclops.

They are hiring someone extremely well trained with 4 years worth of deal experience jammed into 2 years of actual experience and with a manic focus on winning and being the best. The type of person that even after they get a FT PE offer a year out, they're still getting after it in their analyst program so they can squeeze in a few more reps and gain a tiny incremental edge to best their peers when they do land in their PE seat.

Not only are you not that, you're the inverse of that. No judgement… there's nothing glamorous about being a greedy robot on self destructive path… but that is the product you sold them… not the wanderlusting scuba instructor.

Your peers are going to crush you and use your hollowed out skull as a goblet which they would use to drink wine if they ever made it out of the office.

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  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Nov 3, 2021 - 10:16pm

I would hate to work for you - people like you make this industry miserable. Are you going to think back fondly on your incremental deal experience in your 20s when you're old?

OP - quitting now would be a bit aggressive assuming you're just starting your second year, but I know plenty of analysts who quit from Feb-Apr of their second year and either (i) did a short term internship at a startup or something fairly chill or (ii) traveled / did something more random (e.g. culinary school). It's your life so if that's what you want and you're comfortable giving up the bonus then do it. In the grand scheme of your career, a 3-4 month gap will be meaningless

  • Principal in PE - LBOs
Nov 4, 2021 - 9:46am

Not sure what all the monkey shit or personal attacks are about. OP asked how something would be perceived in the industry. Now he knows. No one is justifying that perspective or saying it's right/wrong etc. Thats just reality of the industry/people in it. That's the game.

The question wasn't what would YOU/I think and is it fair… the question was how will my future firm feel.. and that's how they'll feel.

If it makes you feel better why don't you start another thread where you can discuss the nature of the industry, cultural pitfalls, work-life challenges, is it all necessary, is it all fair? What are your feelings words about it?

No one cares about your once in a lifetime window to go snowboarding. This is grown up land. People pay you money and you play by their rules. You're free to not play by their rules, but then you don't get the money. What you don't get to do however is keep the money, play by your own rules, and say I can do it my way and still do what you need me to do. It's hard to scale a business that way and theres an ocean of qualified candidates that will hit their bid if you want to do things your way instead of theirs. The job is to manufacture consistent uniform product. Everyone has to be a little green army man. There's no corn rows and sabbaticals here.

Go work outside of high finance if the soul crush vs. money ratio is off for your personal sensibilities. Good, bad, or ugly, for the foreseeable future that's the game.

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  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Nov 3, 2021 - 10:19pm

This guy above is what bad culture looks like. Take notes everyone. Hell, OP it's honestly a great test to determine if you are going to work for a place that blows or not. You need to be artful in how you sell it and the length of time, but it's not outrageous.

For reference, I have friends who have taken breaks before some megafunds as well as also for more lower key shops. As for the above poster "Extra reps" you gotta be fucking kidding me lol. As though those extra 2 pitch's and facilitating diligence is actually going to make any difference in an associates ability to do their job. Get a grip.

Nov 4, 2021 - 4:52pm

They are hiring someone extremely well trained with 4 years worth of deal experience jammed into 2 years of actual experience and with a manic focus on winning and being the best. The type of person that even after they get a FT PE offer a year out, they're still getting after it in their analyst program so they can squeeze in a few more reps and gain a tiny incremental edge to best their peers when they do land in their PE seat.

This is one of the biggest hardo cuck things I've ever read. I feel gross after reading this.

Nov 12, 2021 - 12:13pm

I said it once, I'll say it again. The only justified example of this workhorse mentality would be having your own business, your baby, that you're trying to grow. Otherwise you're just a dumb idiot sacrificing your life for some rich guy who doesn't even know you exist. Dude, how sad your life must be. Go seek professional help, otherwise you might wake up in your 60s being alone, frustrated and with no pleasant memories.

OP - just ask your new employer. Most likely they're going to be fine with it. No offence, but you're just a smart junior guy who can learn on the job quickly. Go have fun, you only live once and do not sacrifice your youth. You should enjoy life at all ages!

Nov 12, 2021 - 2:12pm

You obviously haven't figured out life yet @principial in private equity. Money isn't everything - take the break if they let you man. I've seen too many analysts and associates (IB and PE) firsthand underperform straight out of the gate due to burnout and trying to be finance hardos, overworking themselves. Plus with the current job market, high finance roles are being harder to fill. Can't hurt to ask, you're only young once.

  • Principal in PE - LBOs
Nov 13, 2021 - 3:34pm

There will always be people trying to convince you to do less and others trying to convince you to do more. The hard part is figuring out when you listen to that feedback and when you tune it out.

Figuring out life is realizing that what you choose to do and how much is very specific to you and your nature. That is figuring it out.

Running around telling everyone else that they're doing life wrong because they're not doing it your way, that's a rite of passage on the road to figuring it out… it's a phase that most outgrow.

There's people that find contentment being David Goggins and there's others that find it being The Dude from Big Lebowski, but the same person won't find happiness doing either or. Do what's right for you.

"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." ― Albert Einstein

"When I was a child my mother said to me, 'If you become a soldier, you'll be a general. If you become a monk, you'll be the pope.' Instead I became a painter and wound up as Picasso." ― Pablo Picasso

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Nov 4, 2021 - 12:01am

I'd second the advice above about trying to do an internship or something more chill- have a friend at a well-regarded UMM who did a ~6 month internship at a friends startup and worked ~20 hours a week for their PE job. They asked the fund, and they were ok with it because my friend was able to pitch it as gaining operating experience which would be more valuable than the same deal process a few more times.

Nov 4, 2021 - 8:42am

As someone who has worked full time in some capacity since I was 6 years old (farm kid) and am now in my 40s, I'd say take the time. My sister and her husband are full time ski bums. They have no stress in their lives and just live frugally. I'd try to do it and just be straight forward about it. Something like, hey, I'm thinking about taking a few months off to come into my new role fully recharged…would that create any issues? I wouldn't say any more than that. If they respond that it is a problem, which they won't likely, then you'll have to reassess. I'd shoot your shot though as simply asking won't get your offer pulled. You've already been trained, and they'd rather have you show up fresh than burned out is my take. 

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  • Associate 3 in IB-M&A
Nov 4, 2021 - 12:09pm

This is great advice and the right wording to use. I say go for it OP

I wouldn't worry too much about your bonus, you likely have more saved than most people 5-7 years older than you. Careers are long and you'll still make excellent money in PE.

  • Associate 1 in IB - Restr
Nov 4, 2021 - 9:34am

I was in a similar situation going into my second year as an analyst. I had a new role lined up for this past summer, and wanted to take some time off beforehand. I ended up quitting 3 months before my new job started and to me it was completely worth it. I traveled, relaxed with my family and friends, and indulged in hobbies/activities I hadn't got to in a long time. No one cared, and actually many people congratulated me. These are the things you will probably look back on and regret not doing. I'd say go for it. 

  • Associate 1 in PE - Other
Nov 4, 2021 - 12:05pm

Totally firm dependent. I recruited off cycle, they advertised a non-immediate but near-term start, but wanted me to start immediately though (for obvious reasons as the workload was piling up). I wanted to take some time off, pushed for 3 months, they came back with a firm 2 month max, and that's where we settled it.

Best decision I ever made. Even though I was without pay for those 2 months, I never had as much financial freedom to buy things and go where I wanted. I saw so many friends I hadn't in a while and came to the role fully recharged, and honestly excited to go back to work. 

If you get the opportunity, take it. Everyone knows these jobs are stressful, and your on the job performance will speak for itself.

Nov 4, 2021 - 2:51pm

This varies by firm. I also think it depends on how much time off we're talking about here.

Let's say you're an analyst with about 1 year experience and recruiting right now for Summer 2022 start. You get an offer and want to quit banking now and travel for the next ~9 months before starting your next job as a PE associate. That's not going to fly with most shops. Fully recognize overwhelming majority of learning curve and experience comes during first year as an analyst, and you're largely "over it" come second year when you already have next job signed up. That said, I think most PE firms would agree that the offer is being extended with expectation you've largely completed a 2 year analyst program (unless they're looking for an immediate hire and fully understand you only have ~1 year experience). 

Now a slightly different situation. You're wrapping up your analyst program next summer and your PE job's start date is scheduled something like 4 weeks later. You've been through the ringer the past year and aren't quite out of the woods yet. PE firm gets it (rough hours, especially common if your a top-bucket analyst and a reputable bank). You'd like more than a few weeks off between jobs. This is especially true if you're also moving to a different city for the new role. If an associate hire for next summer explained this to me, asking if they could leave their analyst job ~2-3 months early to have a little more time off, I'd definitely be receptive to their situation and be open to something like this.

I am not as familiar with how and when analyst bonuses get paid these days across banks - I imagine leaving early is a lot more palatable if your bonuses are aligned with calendar year ends. When I was an analyst, most shops paid analyst bonuses in accordance time on job (so mid-summer after 1 and 2 years from start date). If that is still common practice, leaving a few months early and walking away from 2nd year bonus is a much tougher pill to swallow. I have seen some people do some creative things to navigate this though. For instance, save all vacation days accrued during analyst program and you can finish your banking program ~1 month early (take all vacation at very end of analyst program; this used to be common practice rather than getting paid out for unused vacation days). If you originally had a 1 month gap between two jobs, you now have 2 months off. If PE firm is flexible on start date (more common in MM than MF), you could potentially extend that a little longer as well. 

I had ~3.5 weeks off between my analyst and PE jobs. I also had to move to a new city during that period. If I could do it again, I would have had done everything I could to get a bit more time off.   

Nov 5, 2021 - 2:04pm

Think the actual answer will be firm dependent and asking a forum isn't gonna get you the answer. Just ask them straight up.

One thing I would say with respect to whether it's a good idea is that it honestly depends on what you do in that time off.

Recognising you don't get a chance to explore yourself much once you start a career in finance, think it makes sense to find a longer window to either a.) do a totally different job for a different perspective or b.) find a hobby / pursuit worth dedicating substantial time to E.g. language learning, traveling, a self study course, anything that grows you as a person.

Think that is actually rather helpful from career development perspective as it will make you a more well rounded and interesting person.

I think I couldn't do another job outside of finance cuz I'm too competitive, but I would say that constantly staring at a screen 24/7 and not having time to grow as a person gets exhausting and I find it to be helpful to step away.

Nov 6, 2021 - 4:46am

Just ask. Some are okay with it and some aren't. Those who aren't won't hold it against you that you asked. Nothing to lose here.

Nov 6, 2021 - 7:58pm

Took a gap year here to travel. Seemed a bit reckless at the time, but personally it was the best time fo my life. In earlier years when I interviewed, those travel stories added to my overall application than taking away. Maybe it was by luck and the perception varies, but I think if you use it productively to build character/experience, know why you did it and can explain it logically, it would be received well. Certainly never hurt my career prospects/advancement/earning to date. You just sometimes get that out of your system. Sometimes you get to get it all out during college, or maybe it hits you later in life like first few years into a job. No judgement here. Hope you find what'a right for you. As for the jobs - they'll always be there. No sweat. Best of luck.

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  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Nov 8, 2021 - 10:55am

Some of the best advice / good joke I ever got was along the lines of what you said:

"You're worried about jobs? You know they have those literally everywhere, all the time, right?"

Nov 8, 2021 - 1:04pm

Hahaha so true. Especially now - banks need to plug talent left right and center. Not enough monkeys in the jungle to harvest all the bananas this year.

  • 1
Nov 10, 2021 - 10:19pm

Gap year was right after banking. I didn't go straight to buyside after travelling - went back to banking for a bit, moved over as fast as feasible but still took a few years. I don't have the traditional 2+2 background just to be clear.

  • 1
Nov 8, 2021 - 3:55am

If you don't ask, you don't get. 

Sure it is competitive out there but the question is - how easy will it be for you to break into the industry if you turn down this opportunity? If you feel you will be able to break in, in future, then go enjoy your skiing. There is no time like the present to live it up and feel free.

It's always useful to have some experience under your belt and does differentiate you at the end of the day, so if the opportunity is scare, then i would look to make the most of it and have that break in a couple years time. You still young and if you having these feelings now, maybe it isn't something you cut our for in the long term and a stint now could give you that clarity? Or maybe you just scared? Starting any new job is nerve-wracking so speak to people to address your concerns. 

Nov 9, 2021 - 2:58pm

Your situation reminds me of story I saw about a very important wallstreet guy that did this in real life, quitting overnight to go to the snowy mountains to do some sky and live there for a while.

Well my advice is: think long term. Every generation that passess, the denomination "young" covers a greater number of people. Do not make pre-kicked decisions, if not, put together a structured plan on how to leave the industry in a responsible way so that you can go to live in the mountains without worries, considering your professional standpoint in the future. Be decisive, put a deadline on the better secnario, and start taking action.

Nov 12, 2021 - 12:08pm

Since you no longer need your current job you can try to squeeze in an extended holiday(s) vacation between deals and use that time to ski. When you get your bonus you'll have at least two months off. You can use that too. And bonus is just too large a component of pay to walk away from. Four and five day weekends really go along way toward rejuvenation.

Nov 12, 2021 - 12:43pm

I don't know how IB to PE for analysts works.  But why is it any of PE's business if you want to quit early and take some time off?  They hired you to start in summer 2022.  

I personally wouldn't leave the bonus on the table but so whatever you want.  I would just go skiing after you get it.  There's still plenty of good snow in Feb and March, even April.

Nov 12, 2021 - 1:19pm

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