Tier 2 Consulting to PE - How to Position for an Early Lateral?

I am a top student at a target school (HYP) hoping to graduate summa cum laude. I signed an offer with a tier 2 consulting firm (OW/S&/Deloitte) doing PE work, mainly due diligence and growth strategy, for next year and want to know how I can position myself to get a job at a MM or MF PE shop.

I know the transition is difficult, but I want to start reaching out to the necessary headhunters upon starting next summer and networking to make the jump. Do you have any advice? Do I need to go to B-School before lateraling? If I change directly, should I try and make the switch early (within 6-months to try and get an Analyst position (even in a role designed for college seniors))? Should I explore moving as an experienced hire to MBB and then trying? What would happen if I continued recruiting with PE firms this year even if I already signed my offer?

Comments (2)

Nov 14, 2017

Great questions, and glad that you're thinking about this move early. I was exactly in your shoes (Tier-2 consulting firm from target school) and jumped to a well-known MM PE shop (I interviewed across the spectrum of firms but mostly focused on the core MM). A few pointers:

(1) I would highly recommend that you wait a year to recruit. Since most consultants start in September, they simply don't have the breadth of experience that makes them attractive in the PE recruiting process (remember, you are valued for your market, strategy, and operations insights, and will have to learn the nuts and bolts of finance on your own).

(2) As a corollary to the statement above, I would focus on doing as well as you can in whatever consulting firm you happen to be going to rather than the PE recruiting process. Tier 2 shops offer tremendous opportunities both within projects and outside of projects (e.g., externships, pro-bono cases, international transfers). Take advantage of them.

(3) However, unless you do the pre-MBA PE recruiting process, it will be very difficult to jump to PE post-MBA. Network in earnest with PE firms once you start, but definitely be prepared to go through the process in your second year.

(4) Explore jumping to MBB if you want to remain in consulting, but be cognizant that it will be hard to do so, not because you do not have the innate talent or level of accomplishment, but because each firm prefers people that "grow up" in their own system. Personally, I do not feel that being set back 1-1.5 years is worth it at this stage of your career.

(5) You have signed your offer. Do not put your reputation or that of your school's in jeopardy by continuing to recruit.

Good luck, and feel free to PM should you have any further questions.

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Nov 14, 2017