Q&A: 1st Year MM PE Analyst - Ask Me Anything

Undergrad: attended a target university, graduated May 2018 Education: International Political Economy major, International Business minor GPA: 3.7 GMAT: 750 Junior summer internship: MM PE in NY Post-grad plans: MM PE in major East Coast city, starting summer 2018 WSO has provided me so much insight and advice over the last few years, and I'd like to give back, especially to any undergrads who are pondering about their finance careers and experiencing existential crises. I wanted to share my non-traditional experience, especially since I won't be doing IB after graduation. 

Comments (29)

Most Helpful
May 25, 2018 - 5:14pm

To be honest, I was not expecting to start out in PE straight out of undergrad. During junior year recruiting, I was very much part of the herd mentality of "IB or bust." I ended up with an assortment of internship offers, including the summer gig at a MM PE firm. The vast majority of positions I applied for were IB positions. I didn't go to a HPW target or have any connections, so I didn't really have access to OCR from the MFs like BX, KKR, etc. It just so happened that I landed a summer offer with the MM PE firm after applying online and going through the whole interview process without any expectations. At the time, I thought it would be cool/unique to work in PE for the summer, and then re-recruit for FT positions.

In terms of FT recruiting, I'm honestly not sure whether my PE summer internship was a detriment or benefit. I still spammed my resume and networked across a whole bunch of IBs and PE firms. I'll admit that I was unprepared for the extremely accelerated nature of FT recruiting, so I was very out of the loop when my internship ended in August, even though FT recruiting events had been ongoing since July. Thus, my FT recruiting process was pretty limited, but I still ended up with a few MM IB offers and one MM PE offer after months of interviewing and grinding.

I ended up taking the MM PE offer because I figured that since I didn't get any FT offers from a top BB or EB, I would most likely end up at a similar-tier MM PE shop 2 years down the line if I started out in MM IB. Not saying MM IB to MF PE is impossible, but I'm just an unseasoned 22-year-old who's trying to be realistic about the numbers game. Why not skip the 2-year IB analyst experience and start out on the buy-side in an investment team role at a PE shop that's killing it and actively growing their AUM? There are definitely pros and cons to directly starting out in PE after undergrad, but I thought it was the best choice for me, given my situation.

May 25, 2018 - 5:29pm

I'm happy and content with my choice to go right into PE, given my situation. I didn't have any FT offers from top BBs or EBs, so I thought it would be more risk-averse to start out in MM PE instead of doing MM IB and then trying to compete against the hordes of other IB analysts for the same MM PE position. Ideally, I would have done 2 years of IB. I think the IB analyst experience is so great for getting deal reps, honing a technical skillset, and developing a large network (VERY IMPORTANT). There are definitely downsides to joining a PE firm with a small number of analysts, which translates to a smaller network.

I didn't take any classes to prep for the GMAT. I self-studied for 3 weeks or so in January 2018 using the GMAT Official Guide 2018, and took the GMAT in February. Got 750 on my first try, but I kick myself for not having done better. I definitely half-assed studying during January and I messed up the Quantitative section big time during the actual test. I truly, truly believe that anyone can get a 740+ score on the GMAT. It really tests your logic and critical thinking skills. What matters most, in my opinion, is PACING and TIME MANAGEMENT since the GMAT test is computer-adaptive. I did great on the Verbal, Essay, and IR sections (Essay and IR don't really matter though) but during the Quantitative section, I spent too much time on the early easy questions and ran out of time at the end. I probably guessed on the last 5 math questions.

May 25, 2018 - 6:40pm

What were the MM IB offers like in terms of the kind of shops that they were at? Don't need to list the exact firm but maybe a range of them to have an understanding how they stack up vs. a MM PE shop. thanks

May 25, 2018 - 6:44pm

Currently working at as an analyst in MM PE. When did you start recruiting for FT? I was told going in that I shouldn't expect a FT offer when I graduate, so I have to keep my options open and look. Did you cold call/email your way into FT or apply online and what was the interview process like? I assume it'll be a bit harder on technicals, but considering I've done work on everything from waterfalls to sourcing I should have solid knowledge of everything by then.

May 25, 2018 - 7:01pm

I started recruiting for FT in August 2017 (late to the game, I know). I was focused on getting a return from my summer internship, but I didn't due to stupid bureaucratic reasons and complete miscommunication about return offer expectations. The MM PE firm I'll be joining this summer posted an opening on my school's career website, so I dropped my resume. I got most of my interviews from networking (cold emailing and phone calls), coffee chats, and online resume drops. For my FT IB interviews, questions were pretty standard and not too PE-heavy. For my FT PE interviews, questions revolved around my deal experience and PE technicals as well (e.g. paper LBO). That being said, my interview experience is specific to FT positions right out of undergrad. If you already graduated and are working in growth equity, I'm not the person to ask for advice if you're trying to lateral to another PE shop.

May 25, 2018 - 8:55pm

Haven't graduated yet, but hoping for FT when I graduate. If I tripped you up by calling myself an analyst, it's because we don't hire FT analysts. My team is me, my associate and MD. We don't don't deal LBOs, so do you have any good resources on where I could brush up on that? I'm looking to stay in growth equity/VC, but I'd like to keep my options open.

May 25, 2018 - 8:41pm

So I guess traditionally people go from IB to PE, but is it easy to go from PE to IB? I don't hear about this happening very often. Also, was there anything in particular that made you choose to go directly to PE rather than IB then to PE? Thanks in advance.

Made ya look
May 26, 2018 - 12:14am

I don't know how easy it is to go from PE to IB. Probably not too common, since PE is the desired exit opp from IB. My previous comments above address why I chose to go directly to PE instead of doing an IB analyst stint first.

May 25, 2018 - 8:52pm

Had you gotten BB/EB FT offers. Do you think you would have still chosen to do PE straight out of undergrad? Or taken one of those IB offers?

Also were you apprehensive at all about the fact that your future exit opps by going directly to the buy-side would get narrowed (i.e. I have heard that there are less places to go from PE then there are out of IB)? Or did your PE internship confirm for you that you wanted to be in an investing role long term?

Thanks for doing this!

May 26, 2018 - 12:35am

If I had gotten a BB/EB FT offer, I would have probably taken that over my MM PE job. I think the advantages of a structured analyst program, prestige (don't discount name brand!), more deal reps, and a bigger network outweigh starting out on the buy-side straight out of undergrad. Starting out in a BB/EB would probably give me more opportunities to move to a bigger and "better" PE shop after 2 years. I still am apprehensive about my exit opps being limited by going directly to PE. I understand that IB provides the most number of exit opps and options. However, I also really enjoyed my PE internship, which affirmed my desire to be in an investing role.

May 26, 2018 - 1:13am

swordfish what were the most difficult tasks you did during your summer internship? Do you think it would be an advantage to do Private Equity as an analyst for two years, and then get an Ivy MBA? I know prestige matters, but you went to a target school (Cornell, Dartmouth, UPenn, Stanford and etc.). Don't you think it will help you later on down the road?

Big bodacious goals will get us to another galaxy.
May 26, 2018 - 1:23am

My summer internship was relatively unstructured and my biggest challenge was the lack of formal training I received. I didn't get the standard week of training that most other IB summer analysts get. So I guess the most difficult task for me was learning how to model without much guidance. But other challenging tasks for me included: learning how to think like an investor when analyzing and dissecting CIMs, managing multiple projects and expectations, and trying to produce work of the same quality as that of a first-year analyst.

I sure hope that my target school background will help me down the road! I paid a lot of money to go to school, when I could have gone to state school for a much cheaper price tag. I have no idea how M7 MBA adcoms view PE analysts vs. the much more common IB analysts. So even if my work experience is unconventional, I hope that my target school background provides an adequate sheepskin effect and network.

May 26, 2018 - 1:20am

swordfish Thanks for your post. I am in a similar situation, where I took my a full-time offer as an Analyst at a MM PE firm in Philadelphia following my internship. Was planning on doing IB as well following my MSA program, however I really liked the firm I was interning for. Currently, in the process of trying to lateral back to the West Coast. I know you had mentioned feeling apprehensive about exit opps, however do you have any advice for someone looking to do this? I assume the same networking (cold emails, calls, etc.) as one would do prior to working full-time. Anything advice would help. Thanks!!

May 27, 2018 - 11:42am

Hello I'm entering my sophomore year at a non target school (UMD) and I was wondering if PE firms like yours often recruit from non targets. I also was wondering if you could briefly explain what day to day responsibilities you usually have when you work at the firm. is it unlikely for someone with a low GPA (2.7) from a non target to get a PE internship? what would be the best course of action to take with someone who has a low GPA from a non target

May 29, 2018 - 1:42pm

Probably not often. I went to a target and the other incoming analyst went to a semi-target. Yes, your low GPA and non-target school will make it difficult for you to get a PE internship. But that doesn't mean you should give up; you've only just finished your freshman year. Emphasize targeted networking and crafting a good story that can explain your low GPA. Focus on significantly improving your GPA and killing every future semester. Become an active member of any relevant investment fund or PE club that UMD has. It will also probably be easier for you to secure a boutique IB internship than a PE internship your sophomore summer, but try for everything.

I expect to be splitting my time between portfolio company operations and analyzing investment opportunities/working on deals. My day-to-day responsibilities will probably include financial modeling, analyzing investment opportunities, market and industry research, transaction due diligence, preparing presentations for client meetings, to name a few things off the top of my head. A lot of PowerPoint and Excel.

May 27, 2018 - 1:56pm

Thanks for the AMA. A couple of questions:

  1. Are there any analyst/associates at your firm that come from a commercial/corporate banking background vs. straight out of undergrad/from an IB analyst role? Do you think your firm would ever consider hiring somebody looking to lateral from a comm. banking/credit role?

  2. What resources have you used that you've found are sufficient in getting your modeling skills up to par for your current role in MM PE?

  3. What are your average weekly hours like?

May 28, 2018 - 10:54am
  1. My firm just started a standardized analyst program this year, and plans on taking 2 analysts per class. I'm in the first cohort of analysts, and we are both straight out of undergrad. I am honestly not sure how my firm stands on laterals from non-traditional backgrounds, since we have had a few MBA hires and IB associate hires. Not trying to discount any possibility though.

  2. Street of Walls(http://www.streetofwalls.com/finance-training-courses/) and Macabacus are pretty good free modeling resources if you're not trying to spend money. Otherwise, I would invest money in a technical guide (BIWS, WSO, TTS, etc.). My company uses TTS, and it's pretty solid.

  3. Haven't started my FT position yet, but my hours during my summer internship typically ranged from 70-80 hours per week. I once pulled a 100-hour week, but that was highly irregular. I get the sense that hours in MM PE are generally better than IB hours, after comparing stories with my IB friends.

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