What does it take to land PE analyst out of undergrad?

Currently considering recruiting for junior year MF analyst programs.

Background: I'm from a nontarget, with MM PE sophomore internship and doing an off-cycle HF internship, I'm also eligible for diversity programs.

I don't know much about PE undergrad recruiting and basically just want to know if I have a chance. Also would be interested to hear which firms have analyst programs and what the recruiting timeline looks like for SA23.

Comments (31)

Most Helpful
Nov 26, 2021 - 1:47pm

Some MF / large cap PE analyst programs I can think of off the top of my head are Blackstone, KKR, Silver Lake & Warburg Pincus. It's been a little so my numbers may be off, but usually only a handful are chosen for each. Usually those chosen are from Wharton / Harvard or similar schools. I would recommend to start reading about investing / understanding generally how PE works, and then zero in on understanding value creation in deals, investment theses for deals, etc. Then once you feel comfortable enough that you can articulate your interest in PE, it's worth reaching out to current analysts at the fund to learn more / ask insightful questions. Essentially you want to show genuine interest in the firm / PE in general if you get the chance to speak on the phone. This is one way how you could best position yourself before the application period starts. But keep in mind the kids at those other common feeder schools are probably doing the same, so it's a pretty competitive process

  • Analyst 2 in PE - LBOs
Nov 26, 2021 - 2:06pm

Yeah but you need to also know enough to go through the case studies. That means you need to practice thinking critically / learn a good process of assessing and presenting information so that someone can hit you with a random set of info and you should be able to draw out pros cons and how you would it improve it. That kinda lens is applicable to anything (which I also think is pretty cool) but you should be able to apply that to case studies in order to get the job. Otherwise, that's still a big hole from people who might come from non targets (they don't see the process of how to from upperclassmen or won't know the standard of analysis etc. or the level of depth)

Nov 26, 2021 - 2:24pm

Agreed. What I mentioned above is more of the networking side of things. Reading about assessing competitive landscapes / Porter's five forces is also helpful, as well as reading real life case studies on LBOs (such as CD&R / Hertz). Definitely spend time on understanding how to walk through a simple / paper LBO, how to model out a simple LBO, what characteristics make businesses a good investment candidate, etc. Be sure not to overestimate the importance of technicals / modeling, as you want to be very comfortable with being given a company to evaluate whether it warrants investment, which requires more thinking on the strategic rationale and less on the modeling nuances of the deal.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Dec 30, 2021 - 12:51am

I am an incoming FT PE analyst. PE Analyst recruiting is 10x harder than banking recruitment. In order to land a gig, you have to have your technicals be as good as they would be for any EB interview, you have to be able to easily model LBOs for varying levels of given information and expected outputs, and you need to have excellent soft skills and reasons for being interested in PE. Lastly, you need to have good banking SA experience. Happy to answer any other questions. 

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Dec 30, 2021 - 1:06am

How did you chose which funds you recruited for? I've heard each PE analyst program can be very different compared to banking where most groups are a similar experience.

Also which PE shops would you have taken over an EB gig and did you consider UMM shops like GTCR/Apax/Golden Gate/Crestview which I think have all taken analysts before.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Dec 30, 2021 - 9:52am

I approached PE analyst recruiting like IB analysts approach PE associate recruiting. I decided what geography I wanted to live in, what industry/industries I would like to focus on, and which shops seem to have the better cultures within the PE world. I ultimately went through processes with about 5 firms across the MM/UMM/MF world and took a MM offer while still in the process with some larger firms because of how much I liked the people. Given the insane skill set that is required to succeed in these interviews, very few candidates from college are actually good candidates. So if you can do all of the things that I mentioned above, firms will want you badly. 

Dec 30, 2021 - 4:44pm

You're correct that Vista is more likely to take untraditional candidates, but their main target school are Harvard, UChicago, and UT Austin.

Their recruiting approach is to take the smartest and not necessarily the most traditional finance candidate, which is why they care so much about their aptitude test. If you can get past the aptitude test then they don't care where you went to school. I know of a kid from Princeton that is interning there and he got a 1590/1600 on his SAT.

They take the test so seriously that they make you retake it while being monitored during your super day.

TL;DR if you can't pass their aptitude test, you won't get an interview, and if you can't pass the test again, you won't get an offer

  • Prospect in Research - Other
Dec 31, 2021 - 2:48am

Would agree with the above. Would also note that your network coming out of an analyst program at a big bank is going to be exponentially better than at a PE firm. By the end of the 24 months you'll likely have 15 - 20 analyst and associate peers that leave to different hedge funds and PE firms. If you are well respected, these are all people who will help your career going forward.

  • Analyst 2 in HF - Event
Jan 9, 2022 - 6:41pm

Second that landing PE/top AM out of undergrad is much tougher than landing IB due to sheer headcount and competition. Need to know your story and technicals down to a T as well as havie prior top banking/buy-side internships on your belt. Diversity can get you the interview but there are many highly qualified diverse candidates gunning for these MF PE/ buy-side research associate programs too. Best of luck. 

Jan 9, 2022 - 6:49pm

Joining a top MF in NYC as an analyst out of undergrad from a semi target in the south. Did not do a Summer in IB nor did I intern at this firm. Granted, I am joining the firm in the real estate investing group and not the PE group but REPE. I had an extremely easy recruiting process with no networking or technicals involved. Just got lucky with the job market and deal flow we're currently seeing.

Jan 10, 2022 - 9:10am

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