Posted by: admin | September 9, 2008

Getting In

I will begin this blog by addressing one of the most common questions I get about my line of work: what do I need to do to get into Private Equity (hereby referred simply as “PE”)?

My answer is simple: you need to begin at the bottom of the totem pole and put in your time!

This means spending 2 or more years at an investment bank working +100 hour weeks doing mind numbing work before PE shops will even consider interviewing you. No you will not get hired right out of college with no experience and no you will not get hired if you work in a non-finance field, so don’t even bother.

Why you ask? Its simple. Putting in your time working godless hours for two years is a right of passage in the finance world. If you can survive i-banking as an analyst for two years then you have proven yourself worthy and have qualified yourself to move up. You have to pay your dues. I’ve done it, my boss has done it, and every other finance guy/gal working for a PE shop/hedge fund/etc. has done it.

I’ll be frank, landing an analyst role in i-banking is super competitive. Out of college the requirements are minimum cumulative GPA of 3.5, finance/economics major, held officer level position in business school club, summer internship in finance field (i.e. not a cashier at Best Buy), blah blah blah. You get the picture. Whoops, did you party too much freshman year and fuck up your GPA by failing 2 classes because you were too hung over to do well on your midterms? Too bad. This is exactly the type of person i-banks do not want! They will only hire the cream-of-the crop college grads that smart, but more important driven! Now on the other hand if you were up late till 4 am partying the night before your econ 101 midterm because it was your fraternity’s annual pimps-n-hoes bash but you still managed to get a top 10th percentile score then maybe you are cut out for i-banking.

All right so you bust your ass in college, study hard for your finals, join every business school club, interview with the i-banks like a champ and get an offer. What can you look forward to? Just to give you an idea, besides the long hours: working two months straight everyday, having little to no social life, sitting at your computer and staring at your monitor for 16 straight hours, editing pitchbooks for the 30,000th time so you are literally making changes to your own changes from a prior editing session, getting yelled at and called a “crackhead” by your pissed associate after pulling an all-nighter when tensions are super high and you make a mistake (true story), sleeping 4 hours a night, the list goes on and on.

One of my fondest memories was when I pulled two all-nighters in one week so we could get our work to the client by Friday the end of the week. The 2nd all-nighter of that week consisted of going through our work and literally checking to make sure every sentence had its t’s crossed, i’s dotted, comma in the right spot with a period at the end of every scentence!!!

There are times when you do work like this that adds absolutely zero client value and you find yourself constantly questioning if its worth putting up with the B.S. you are dished by your firm. Then you realize you make good money your first year out of college, have pretty much every meal paid for with black car service every night, but most importantly that i-banking is a shit job but a vital stepping stone to a higher paying, better job with a PE shop, so you shut the fuck up, put your head down and go back to work.

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