PE AND IB SUCK: my experience.

I've tried both PE and IB at reputable shops through internships.

I can't help but think that since finance has been around since the dawn of time, nothing has nor will change. You are simply a cog in a well oiled machine and there is little creativity involved.

I have been working on my own startup for the remainder of my college experience. Nothing has brought me more fulfillment in my life and I just don't think that I need to make 6 figures out of college.

Please would love to hear some comments on why I shouldn't drop out of this rat race. The way I see it, careers are 40 years long and I should simply play the long run and focus on an issue I want to solve and do just that.

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Comments (24)

Most Helpful
  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Oct 9, 2021 - 4:07am

You haven't even started your working life, you can't drop out of the 'rat race' as you're not even at the starting line. Do whatever you want, no one cares 

Oct 12, 2021 - 8:20am

I actually disagree with this take, primarily because of how early the rat race seems to begin these days.

When I was in college, there were some rare birds who had solid sophomore year internships. These guys were at the top of the pack. 4.0 GPAs, lots of extracurriculars, overachieving Type A sorts.

Now you have kids doing pre-college internships. And if you don't have 3+ internships and half a dozen clubs under your belt you're at a disadvantage when it comes to competing for the top jobs. It's kind of crazy.

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Oct 9, 2021 - 10:31am

lmao you're an intern, no one cares about your opinion on career fields you've spent a few months in doing basic work. You mean to tell me the college kid with a "cog in wheel" attitude is having more fun at the hip new startup that makes him feel more important (where you are also just the same cog in a much smaller wheel)? Color me surprised. No one said you have to go into IB/PE. If you can't hack/don't enjoy it then don't, that's just one more slot for someone who actually wants it.

Oct 9, 2021 - 12:12pm

To all the people talking shit about how he's an intern:

Isn't the point of an internship to get an understanding of what life is like in some particular line of work?  I have a friend that switched his major to math to look for more quant related roles after a terrible internship at Goldman Sachs.  Do you really expect people like him or the creator of this thread to stick around in some particular industry hoping they'll enjoy their job in a few years?

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Oct 9, 2021 - 12:26pm

The idea that being an employee at a startup isn't a rate race is what makes OP look particularly stupid. If anything startups are more of a rat race than any other path since you're literally working for a company that in many cases will cease to exist if you can't get those metrics good enough to get that next milestone of funding in the tank. The only time that might be less true is for a solid bootstrapped startup/being the founder who already has some money in the bank. This post reeks of someone who doesn't fundamentally understand the dynamics of any of the career paths he's commenting on which makes sense, because he's just some intern with no real FT experience lol 


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Oct 9, 2021 - 4:25pm

that's  great, obviously it's not for everyone. and people opting for start ups and tech type roles are becoming more and more popular. so whats this start up and how it is going to sustain you for the next 40yrs anyway?

Oct 10, 2021 - 3:50pm

PE is pretty legit. You're wrong.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • 1
Oct 10, 2021 - 6:18pm

Just seems like not a lot of thought that goes into it and very process driven? I could be wrong but just like filtering a ton of companies and then whichever one is the least risky you enter a process that is extremely administrative.

path less traveled

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Oct 10, 2021 - 6:20pm

You're a dumbass. 

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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Oct 11, 2021 - 2:12pm

You might have worked at good shops, but you did so in the worst role. You can't believe that being an intern is comparable to more senior roles in your 40 year career time frame? But if it didn't hold your attention when you're there that's ok, honestly glad that you're doing something you love! Lots of people are in finance for the wrong reasons, and it shows

Oct 11, 2021 - 3:56pm

You're probably doing bitch work for your startup too, but reframe how you feel about it because you think there's a purpose or end goal to it.In IB / pe you didn't get any trust to work on anything that wasn't bitch work, and you didn't try hard enough to see the bigger picture.Almost every money generating activity has aspects that suck because it's overcrowded and extremely competitive. In order to maximize profits people specialize, are inefficient and have to spend more hours, or get more specialized and add value in a more creative way. But you need to work up the learning curve to get there in the corporate world, working in IB/PE gets you there 10 years faster than a regular corporate role. Worth it or not, your choice. No other role gets you that opportunity unless you make it (mark zuckerburger).Side note maybe you didn't try hard enough and didn't go out of your own way enough and that's why you suck? In my pe internship (not one I went FT in) I got a chance to do a lot of thinking activities regarding companies ways to build value etc. Now did I tell my superiors all of it, no, but having that in the back of my mind allowed me to make a few comments build trust and actually speak up at the end of the summer to ask diligence questions for a few non-client facing meetings (which is huge for interns they don't plan on returning, and these were calls with field experts they were paying $100s-1000/hr). Now if I stuck there for 2 years I would have gotten an amazing experience for sure

Oct 12, 2021 - 8:26am

You are not wrong that creativity is limited at the junior levels in finance... but you could say the same about almost any industry. Maybe advertising or something might let you stretch your creative muscles a little, but in 90+% of jobs, from plumbing to banking to engineering, you start out very limited in what you can really do.

It's not necessarily a bad idea to go your own way, but you did ask for "comments on why you shouldn't drop out". So here are the big ones: If you go into banking and then PE, or into consulting, your options after that open up drastically. One because you have a brand name on your resume, so if you're looking for investors or to hire employees, people know you're not a complete idiot. Two because if you sock your money away wisely it builds you a bit of a cushion you can fall back on if you grind away at your own business for a couple years and it doesn't make you any money.

<10% of people go into consulting or banking looking to stay in them forever. The number is much higher for PE, but I would suspect that well under 50% of the people who go into PE after banking stay in PE forever too. These jobs buy you more optionality than almost any other job. That is where their real value lies.

  • Investment Manager in HF - Other
Oct 12, 2021 - 9:27am

You are right that you should find things you are passionate about and pursue that. You'll be far more successful if you enjoy your work. 

That being said, I think there are a few things you should think about. 

1) do you actually know what you are passionate about? It took me a while to figure out what I wanted, and it was a mix of the content/problem I was solving, the firm and culture, the people, etc. All of that (and more) can greatly impact your experience. Similar to people who chase prestige or money without focusing on the firm they are joining, or the role, or people, etc it can lead to problems. So I would make sure you think about what you are actually trying to do  

2) perfect role today vs "tomorrow" - this to me is a big one. Too often I see junior people optimizing for what they enjoy "right now" and not thinking about what career they want. As an example, I see junior people coming into a HF and thinking that they'll be investing billions right off the bat. They don't want to do the "crap" work, even though that's how they learn (digging into companies/data, etc) - - I see similar in consulting, people wanting to give strategy advice to CEOs in year 1. I'm not saying the way I learned is the right way, so I know I sound a bit like an old timer, but getting the basics and fundamentals right are so important. If the job you want is the partner/MD/etc and you think you'll enjoy that, think about the path to get there, because that's not what you'll be in a year. The good thing is that at these firms there are so many people to learn from and the opportunities exist to do that type of work, just have realistic expectations and a plan on how to get there. 
3) develop and learn - related to above, think about what it will take to learn and develop. Sometimes that can be a startup or small firm (lots of exposure to many problems and forced to solve them) but there is plenty of opportunity to learn at a large place too, even if you feel like a "cog". While the truly exceptional people may be founders (Steve Jobs, Gates, etc), the top people at top funds/firms are usually very good at what they do, and getting exposure to them can accelerate your career. This won't happen at all places, but if you get the right mix of the culture of the place and great people, you'll most likely learn more from others who have solved hard problems thousands of times than you will on your own. 

Oct 12, 2021 - 9:35am

There is nothing wrong with disliking work.

I hated my first IB internship. I didn't get the offer for being unmotivated. That was 7-8 years ago now and I ended up at a BB -> consulting -> strategy. I love where I am at now and making 6 figures really does matter. You will notice when you're older and have a wife. I was lucky to leave HYPS with no debt.

Maybe you aren't a good match with these firms? Either way, good luck with whatever you choose to do.

Oct 12, 2021 - 1:15pm

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path less traveled

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