PE Recruiting For Non-Targets

calibaseball's picture
Rank: Monkey | 65

With the PE recruiting process ramping up for IB analysts, I was curious to know some people's experiences with going through the process coming from a non-target undergrad. I managed to earn a solid GPA at a top 60 undergrad state school (think Penn State / Ohio State) and currently work FT in a BB bank.

I know there are a lot of sarcastic comments on here about "Ivy league or bust" but how much of a role does where you went to undergrad actually come into play for PE recruiting?

Comments (58)

Nov 27, 2017

Interested to hear about this as well

Nov 28, 2017

2nd year Associate at a MF here and from a very non-target school. I'd say group/bank matter more than school, but will still be a bit of an uphill battle since people see HYPS as lower risk hires. The biggest thing is to prove to the headhunters that you're polished and a top performer in your group. The strong GPA will help you get looks, too.

Once you're in the door, though, people care a lot less about what school you went to. Just be sure that you're on the recruiters' radar and on their good side.

Lastly, just wanted to point out that most of the Associates in my office are also non-HYPS.

    • 2
Apr 26, 2018

Hey, out of curiosity, what's the lifestyle like at your MF?

Nov 29, 2017

Unfortunately, as a general rule PE firms are even more prestige-focused than banks. This obviously depends on the firm.

Some very successful firms have senior partners with non-traditional backgrounds - and that open-mindedness to different backgrounds can trickle down throughout the hiring process.

Many other firms tend to hire exclusively ex-Ivy league kids and send them all to Harvard / Stanford / Wharton.

Like all things, it's a range.

Nov 29, 2017

Any idea on which funds tend to care less about prestige? Specifically any of the mega funds?

Nov 30, 2017

It's very interesting but if you look through the team pages of 50+ funds like i have you'll realize that MOST associates arent Ivy League (there are some funds that are the exception and seem to really focus on school). Having said that, complete non target aren't super common and if you see someone from one they almost ALWAYS graduated Magna/Summa cum laude.

    • 1
Dec 1, 2017

I'm a second year analyst (non-target - large state school) and am starting to have conversations with the PE head hunters. I'm at a MM bank (M&A group) and am a bit worried that I will not get looks at solid MM PE firms (I have no inclination to do a MF).

Will keep everyone posted and would love to do a AMA if I successfully recruit.

Apr 26, 2018

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Apr 30, 2018

Wrapping up my 2nd year at MBB and landed at a MM PE fund in SF. Definitely came from a very different background than most - extreme non target and worked for a year in risk at a BB before making the jump to MBB.

What I found is that educational prestige gets thrown out the window pretty quickly - I never once felt like it was a hindrance. If anything, I felt like it was a net positive as it gave me a more interesting story than most. Once the headhunters see that you're competent and you do well in interviews, they'll start feeding you more and more interviews. I ended up getting a ton more looks than I thought I would.

Apr 30, 2018

I don't think there is a general rule of thumb... when I went through recruiting 4 years ago it was hell. Some say schools matter some say it doesn't matter but from my personal experience, I'd say non-target was a pretty big disadvantage for me in terms of getting looks. It also didn't help that I was in a group with 20 other analysts - and we were all VERY GOOD analysts so it made it even harder.

I agree though once you are in the door, it matters less but still does matter.

Apr 30, 2018

Was your trouble getting interviews or during the actual interviews? Felt like maybe I didn't get quite as many looks, but saw no bias once I got my foot in the door.

Apr 30, 2018
secede:

Was your trouble getting interviews or during the actual interviews? Felt like maybe I didn't get quite as many looks, but saw no bias once I got my foot in the door.

Getting them by far. My hit rate was OK, 2/3 offers but getting interviews was difficult.

Apr 30, 2018

Network your butt off and hopefully you have a great personality + rock solid technically

May 1, 2018

Non-target + good MM/BB banking group and you are a prime candidate for MM PE / growth equity roles.

May 2, 2018

I'm interested in this as well. Will be following closely

May 2, 2018

My 2 cents, I was at a mid-tier BB at a decent coverage group and from a semi-target ugrad. When I was interviewing for PE roles it was a huge disadvantage at megafunds (could only get 1 to interview me). Most of my interviews were at solid MM funds and in terms of offers it was super easy to get the growth equity type gigs.

Best Response
May 2, 2018

This is not going to be a perfect answer. Generally speaking, megafunds are going to fill their associate classes primarily with the 3.8+ Ivy kids.

It's a simple and unkind fact that people rely on processes that have been reinforced over time. In this case, private equity firms have been using headhunters for decades. Those headhunter firms are almost invariably founded by good-looking, well-educated women from socially connected families.

That's a fancy way of saying 'woman who was born into non-trivial economic means, enjoyed elite private school and college education, worked at some firm with a prominent name that didn't require her to kill herself, and is from the same social set as the guys who founded or run the firms that need the candidates'.

Today a lot of the top headhunter firms have younger employees that are women who did a banking analyst stint out of school. That means that there's a non-trivial chance that some analysts going through recruiting are socially proximate to that junior headhunter through siblings, sports teams, country clubs, summer vacation spots, and the like.

What I'm saying is that there's a whole host of qualitative, non-quantifiable elements that put the banking analyst from a non-target at a disadvantage. Yes, there will be some who find that they don't have too much trouble getting interviews. Anecdotally (this is thinking through over 100 guys from my summer or analyst class at the banks I worked at), the non-target ones who did well tended to be guys who most closely hewed to that sort of profile. Meaning they were tall, good-looking guys with strong social skills who come across well in an informal chat. They looked the part, even if they weren't born into the part.

Whether that's fair or not isn't the focus. I'm stating what I observed.

People are lazy and tend to stick with (a) the thing that works and (b) the people that seem to deserve it the most. Since we all as humans suffer from biases, we tend to think the most worthy people are those who most closely resembles ourselves.

For megafunds, that's the kid that looks like the tried-and-true, well-proven archetype of high grades from an elite school. For middle market funds (especially in regional cities), it's probably a kid with top grades from a flagship state school ("public Ivy"). And so on and so forth down the line.

This doesn't mean you shouldn't cast your net far and wide. It's merely an explanation for why the sorting hat works the way it does.

    • 5
May 2, 2018

I know 3 people who graduated in 2010 from a semi-target university (Big 10 School with decent OCR). All three got BB SA -> BB FT at investment banks. One now works at KKR, and the other two work at Carlyle. Anything is possible.

May 2, 2018

Of the incoming associate class for the megafund I interned at this summer, 4-5 were Harvard/Princeton/Wharton, 1 was Cornell, and 1 was from a complete non-target (some state school in Canada). Granted, the Canada guy had a 4.0 in undergrad and seemed to have great deal experience from a top NYC BB. Megafunds are tough to break into from non-targets, but it's possible. You have to absolutely bust your ass in FT though. There was one principal in PE at my fund from Univ. of Texas, and one associate from Indiana U.

May 2, 2018

it makes it harder because headhunters might screen you based on your school when choosing which resumes to send to funds, so you might not even get an interview. key is to dominate your headhunter interview

as for KKR and carlyle, those are probably less elitist about schools, but then you have funds like Silver Lake, Bain Capital, lot of the consulting PE firms like berkshire, where everyone is harvard, wharton, or another ivy

May 2, 2018

Not true. I know one guy who is a non target and made it to one of the elitist pe firms u mentioned

May 2, 2018
lonestaffer:

Seems like PE recruiting is a bit more cutthroat than IB and they will only filter by the top firms/groups and top schools. Anyone know if networking is the solution for non-targets trying to break into PE as well, or is there only so much it can do?

Yes, big mega-funds. But why would you want to work there? Working at a smaller fund and growing with it so one day you can get carry is way more important, yeah? Anyone else agree?

Getting into a MM fund is way easier. Hey, I'm a non-target and have an internship at a PE fund and they hire from undergrad so yeah it's possible. And hopefully I'll find out if I get full-time soon!! Oh but if you're an IB analyst already you should have no prob getting into a MM fund. Then maybe business school (HWS), then the world. I think at a certain point though, people forget about prestige and just do what they want to do whether it's pe, hf, or being an entrepreneur or day trader or whatever. The finance world is changing so much nowadays and has so much uncertainty that at the end of the day it's 1) what value can you add and 2) can you make the right call

My $.02 anyways...I could be wrong

May 2, 2018
mokey1234:
lonestaffer:

Seems like PE recruiting is a bit more cutthroat than IB and they will only filter by the top firms/groups and top schools. Anyone know if networking is the solution for non-targets trying to break into PE as well, or is there only so much it can do?

Yes, big mega-funds. But why would you want to work there? Working at a smaller fund and growing with it so one day you can get carry is way more important, yeah? Anyone else agree?

Getting into a MM fund is way easier. Hey, I'm a non-target and have an internship at a PE fund and they hire from undergrad so yeah it's possible. And hopefully I'll find out if I get full-time soon!! Oh but if you're an IB analyst already you should have no prob getting into a MM fund. Then maybe business school (HWS), then the world. I think at a certain point though, people forget about prestige and just do what they want to do whether it's pe, hf, or being an entrepreneur or day trader or whatever. The finance world is changing so much nowadays and has so much uncertainty that at the end of the day it's 1) what value can you add and 2) can you make the right call

My $.02 anyways...I could be wrong

I'm not trying to be snarky , but I actually can't tell if you're being sarcastic or not. BTW , don't most PE shops start carry at only the VP/Principal level?

May 2, 2018

Once you've got the IB/consulting name on your resume, my experience is that where you went to school matters much less that your performance and the types of projects you worked on, and taking a somewhat non-traditional route can even be seen as an asset.

May 2, 2018

henry kravis went to claremont mckenna or some shit like that.

May 2, 2018

^ umm yeah... as if Claremont McKenna is a no name...

Float like a butterfly, sting like the bee.

May 2, 2018
TheBlueCheese:

^ umm yeah... as if Claremont McKenna is a no name...

It pretty much is on the East Coast.

May 2, 2018

To clarify, a Principal is a glorified associate, right?

The difference between successful people and others is largely a habit - a controlled habit of doing every task better, faster and more efficiently.

May 2, 2018

Absolutely. We all weigh targets too much. There's plenty of people at Big Ten schools (Mainly Michigan, Northwestern, and Indiana) that get BB IBD offers. Their top 1% do just as well, some even getting into PE out of college just like the tip of the peak at targets.

May 2, 2018

Yes. They will focus more on your deal experience and technical knowledge than your school.

May 2, 2018

Sounds all too familiar... I graduated from a total non-target and spent a year in corp dev. Now in banking, but turned down a pretty legit PE offer to do so. May be able to offer some advice to talk for a few minutes. PM me.

May 2, 2018

I tried to PM you but it says I don't have enough banana points to send you one unfortunately. Do you mind trying to send me a message in case it will let us talk that way (if not, I'll try posting a few more times and get up to 10)? Also, just to clarify, I'm not working in corp dev; just corporate finance. I wouldn't mind working in corp dev though, if it can still lead to PE/give me exposure to financial modeling.

    • 1
May 2, 2018

Bump for anyone else that can help?

May 2, 2018

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May 2, 2018

you have a lot to learn about the industry. i'd start buying reading through WSO.

in this current market top IB analysts are having trouble breaking into PE/HF. I'm talking about your typical analyst from target, high, gpa, top tier firm. There is just too much competition for extremely limited spots.

If I were you I would continue working at your firm and network to see if you can get a more relevant job in NY or a bigger city. I'm talking about IB, consulting, corporate development, etc. You should also try doing a rotation at your firms strategy or business development group. From there you would probably need to do an MBA.

Long story short, no PE firm is going to hire a non-target accountant to make "operational and strategic improvements" to their portfolio companies.

May 2, 2018
OMS:

you have a lot to learn about the industry. i'd start buying reading through WSO.

in this current market top IB analysts are having trouble breaking into PE/HF. I'm talking about your typical analyst from target, high, gpa, top tier firm. There is just too much competition for extremely limited spots.

If I were you I would continue working at your firm and network to see if you can get a more relevant job in NY or a bigger city. I'm talking about IB, consulting, corporate development, etc. You should also try doing a rotation at your firms strategy or business development group. From there you would probably need to do an MBA.

Long story short, no PE firm is going to hire a non-target accountant to make "operational and strategic improvements" to their portfolio companies.

Problem is my firm doesn't have a biz dev/corp dev team; that's why I'm looking to lateral from this place as soon as I possibly can. I guess it's pointless to ask about PE because it sounds like I have no shot at this point (I read through that one huge thread about why people choose MM over megafunds or something and that gave me more insight about PE and what it requires), but I would like to get into corp dev/biz dev at the very least. How can I go about getting into those groups? It doesn't have to be at a blue-chip. In fact, I wouldn't mind a smaller company at all because I'll be a bigger part of the team and have more responsibilities there versus at a larger corporation.

I read through that one thread by harvardgrad about corp dev as well, and it sounds like there are some opportunities to break in from UG but most people do it after IB. Problem is, I'm probably not going to break into BB IB anytime soon, so how can I go about finding those few opportunities for people right out of undergrad?

May 2, 2018

Sounds like you were a little late to the game in learning about the opportunities within IB/PE. The bad news - you likely will never be an "Analyst" of any sort. The good news - you will never have to be an Analyst and deal with all that entails.

If I were you, I would put my head down and try to learn as much as possible over the next year or two. Look for opportunities to gain industry knowledge/relevant experience, and keep your eyes open for any opportunities in the interim. Ultimately, study your ass off and crush the GMAT, get into a top/solid MBA program. Perform there, network, and I say you have decent odds of finding something you could stand to do long term. Unfortunately, from where you are it will take lots of effort and some luck mixed in, but your goals are attainable.

May 2, 2018

Absolutely echoing Rumple here.

You have a shot, but it will be through a top notch MBA program. Keep in mind that it is very difficult to break into a post-MBA PE role unless you have relevant experience. So you should plan to go MBA to a MM IB group (BB is possible if you can get a H/S/W, or M7 MBA), then move on to a PE group after you've done a few years as an associate.

Having said all that, your primary concern right now should be to build a strong MBA application. Your work experience won't be very attractive to top notch programs, so you need to build a story around yourself. What are you passionate about? Homeless people? Then build a brand around your community outreach initiatives.

Honestly, you're not in a bad position because you have the opportunity to do the things you want to. Just make sure you're ready for the grind it out to get there.

May 2, 2018

.

May 2, 2018

posting to follow

People tend to think life is a race with other people. They don't realize that every moment they spend sprinting towards the finish line is a moment they lose permanently, and a moment closer to their death.

May 2, 2018

anyone?

May 2, 2018

anyone?

May 2, 2018

You will have headhunters contacting you but it will depend on which industry group you are in and also how strong the group is. It will be tough for you to get to a solid MM fund given the competition but it can be done. But just don't expect it like you would be when you are in M&A or sponsor groups.

May 2, 2018

Thanks for the reply. What is your definition of "solid" in terms of AUM? Also, all else being equal (group strength) what industry groups have more / which ones have less contact?

May 2, 2018

interested as well

May 2, 2018

I know there are a lot more PE experts roaming WSO! anyone else? any help would be much appreciated.

May 2, 2018

solid as in anything over 1b is pretty solid. Do keep in mind I ignore the culture/compensation part of the equation but chances are if the fund can grow to 1b, it must have done something right..

Industrial / Consumer / TMT are the usual suspects due to the fact that majority of the buyside firms are focused on these industries.

May 2, 2018

Just to confirm, are you a 1st year Analyst as in currently in training, or are you a 1st year Analyst as in getting your first bonus in the next few weeks?

If the latter, the PE recruiting cycle for next summer is more or less complete for megafunds and the large majority of MM funds. If the former, don't wait for recruiters to contact you, get names of the top 3-4 usual suspects (Oxbridge, CPI, etc.) and put yourself in front of them starting November/December with the expectation that they will begin to screen candidates in January/February and launch recruiting in March/April.

Just my advice...

May 2, 2018
BananaStand:

Just to confirm, are you a 1st year Analyst as in currently in training, or are you a 1st year Analyst as in getting your first bonus in the next few weeks?

If the latter, the PE recruiting cycle for next summer is more or less complete for megafunds and the large majority of MM funds. If the former, don't wait for recruiters to contact you, get names of the top 3-4 usual suspects (Oxbridge, CPI, etc.) and put yourself in front of them starting November/December with the expectation that they will begin to screen candidates in January/February and launch recruiting in March/April.

Just my advice...

Thanks a lot. Sounds great. Do head hunters typically react well to you contacting them, or is it one of those things where you have to have some type of connection with them (i.e same school, etc) to build a relationship?

May 2, 2018

In my experience, they're pretty receptive to meeting new Analysts. If anything, it's a volume game for them because they just want to show as many quality Analysts as possible to their clients knowing that they just need to fill a couple of spots.

Typically they'll ask you to submit a resume and fill out some information (fund size, geography, strategy, timing, etc.) and then, assuming you're at a decent shop w/ decent stats, they'll conduct a phone interview. The phone interview is interesting because most headhunters pretend to have a very casual conversation and often sound like they're out to help you, but in reality, they're taking notes on everything you say and their ultimate clients are PE funds, not Analysts. They'll then start matching you with potential openings based on your bank/group, stats, responses, etc.

So, having said all that, they'll be open to meeting you at first, but if you flub the phone interview, or if you're resume seems tough to place in a PE role (i.e. 2.6 GPA from a community college), then don't expect a lot of flow to come your way.

May 2, 2018
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May 2, 2018
May 2, 2018