How to Get a Private Equity Job in 2,550 Words

348 Comments | Private Equity & The Buy-Side - Networking

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“How can we fight this fight with the brightest and best educated rushing off and working night and day to do private equity deals and derivatives trading?”

-Ben Stein, Looking for the Will Beyond the Battlefield

Derivatives trading… maybe not so much anymore. But PE continues to be a big draw, pulling in bankers like bees to honey – despite the fact that most firms are barely doing any deals lately.

Yes, we’re at that stage of the year when newly minted Analysts (and some Associates…) are thinking about what they’ll do next, only months after starting out in investment banking.

But no one seems to know much about the recruiting process, how it works, who’s involved, what you need to do, and how long it takes.

Who – Firms & People Involved

I normally avoid discussing specific firms (no, I still won’t “rank” banks, sorry), but we’ll break that rule here.

Private Equity Firms

I divide PE firms into “The Big Guys” – Blackstone, KKR, TPG, and anyone else focused on the largest deals – and “Everyone Else” – middle-market and smaller firms that do everything from tiny $20MM deals to acquisitions up to the hundreds of millions or low billions.

Even with a terrible market, each firm recruits at least a few new hires each year (places with only 5-10 “investment professionals” might just hire 1 person).


Almost every PE firm uses headhunters to recruit candidates.

These aren’t banks where you have tens of thousands of employees and room for HR – these places are lean and efficient, and they view recruiting as something that can be outsourced (at least the “getting resumes” part of recruiting).

So if you don’t have a wide PE network, you need to contact these headhunters to have a shot at breaking in.

There are only 3 worthwhile firms for PE recruiting: Oxbridge, SG Partners, and CPI. Theoretically, Glocap and a few others do it too, but the highest-quality (and highest-hiring-probability) opportunities – at both large and small firms – are found through those three.

How to Contact Them

Depending on the bank / group you’re working at, you may actually be contacted by the recruiters first. But if you’re not, the best method is to get a referral from a friend or co-worker who knows them.

Failing that, cold-emails and cold-calls also work – but it’s hard to get on their radar if you don’t have a brand-name bank on your resume.


A wider set of candidates tend to be interested in PE compared to banking, so let’s go through the major categories.

Students – Undergraduates & Business School

This is a small group because few undergraduates are qualified. To have a shot, you need to have a previous banking or PE internship and go to a school where firms actually recruit undergraduates (or get really lucky networking).

At the MBA-level, it’s not much easier. As one PE principal once put it to me, “To decide who gets an interview here, we…. look at who has done PE before.”

It’s really, really tough to get in out of business school unless you’ve done banking/PE before. And these days, you’d be competing against a ton of laid-off bankers and financiers so it wouldn’t exactly be “easy” even if you’ve had that experience.

Investment Banking Analysts

Current Analysts are the biggest group that headhunting firms target. If you’re at a bulge bracket, chances are that you’ll be contacted in January or early February by headhunters, meet with them, and present your story, background, and deal experience.

There is a fairly large bias against anyone who’s not at a bulge bracket. It would be hard to move from a middle-market bank to KKR, for example, unless you had a great connection there and could go around the screening process.

It is incredibly important to impress the recruiters you speak with, because they filter you based on your knowledge/experience and whether you could pass the “airport test.”

As with any other interview, show that you’re smart, that you can do the work, and that you’re likable.

Do not underestimate the importance of headhunters – they are literally the gatekeepers for PE recruiting.

Consultants / Anyone Else Working in Adjacent Industries

Lots of management consultants want to make the switch to PE, but there is also a bias against anyone from a non-finance background. If you’re coming from a consulting background, you’re better off targeting firms that are known for hiring consultants (e.g. Golden Gate Capital, which hires Associates primarily from Bain).

Or you could go for anything smaller and more focused on operational improvements / turnarounds as opposed to the “financial engineering” that you see at larger firms.

This is just speculation, but in the current market, consultants may be gaining an advantage because most firms are not doing deals – they’re just improving their existing portfolio companies.

If you’re working in a closely related industry, like corporate finance / strategy / business development at a Fortune 500 company, you also stand a chance in the PE recruiting process.

Your best bet is smaller firms and anything that focuses on a specific industry – so if you worked in Disney’s corporate strategy department, go for middle-market media-focused firms.

Private Equity Analysts / Associates

Private equity firms also hire from competitors and other firms in the industry.

If you’re already in PE at a smaller firm, you won’t face as many obstacles in moving somewhere bigger as a boutique banker would.

Since these places are very small (Blackstone, the largest, only has around 500 “investment professionals”), fit is super-important and they can afford to be highly selective.

You’ll be tested on your modeling skills and deals, but fit is key to closing the deal if you’re making a lateral move.

Mid-Level Hires

Another category of recruits: anyone who’s at the mid-level in an adjacent industry like consulting or corporate finance.

If you’re in this category, you probably have a diverse set of experiences, so the process will be less standardized.

You need to figure out a coherent story that shows why you’re so interested in becoming an investor – even if you’ve had a string of several different jobs over the past 5-10 years.

Rather than aiming for the likes of KKR and Blackstone, you’re better off going for anything that’s more niche – if you’re an environmental consultant, look into any smaller firms that are doing clean-tech or environmental investments, for example.

Managing Director / Partner-Level Hires

Another category of recruits, Partners / Managing Directors can also hop from firm to firm, moving from investment banking to PE, or from PE to PE, or almost any other combination.

At this level, it comes down to how well you know the Partners at whatever firm you’re moving to. Anyone in this position can “do the work,” so it’s often more about pre-existing relationships – as opposed to more junior hires, where you’re less likely to know anyone in advance.

When – The Timeframe

This one is greatly dependent on who you are and which firms you’re applying to – you could say there are 3 different “categories” of timeframes.

Large-Cap PE Recruiting

The largest firms start contacting bulge bracket analysts in January/February, continue speaking with them through March, and usually conduct interviews and make decisions in April/May.

These dates refer to recruiting for the year after – so if you get an offer in May of this year, the job would start in the summer of next year.

Middle-Market and Smaller Recruiting

This is a bit more random and the process is less standardized. In general, smaller firms start later – usually right around the time the biggest PEs are finishing up with recruiting – and continue on throughout the fall of the given year.

There’s usually a drop-off in recruiting into the winter, only picking up again in the beginning of the next year.

Everyone Else

The timeframes above refer to recruiting for entry-level hires – Analysts / Associates, mostly coming from investment banking backgrounds.

If you’re more experienced and are coming in at a higher level, the dates above may not apply to you. Particularly for anyone at the senior-level, hiring is done on an “as-needed” basis, and there’s no set number of recruits each year.

Where – Locations

The above descriptions refer mostly to private equity recruiting in the US. In other regions, especially anywhere without a mature industry, the process is more haphazard.

I’m not an expert on how it’s different in China vs. India vs. Estonia, for example, but if you know something about this and could tell us how it’s different in your own country, feel free to contact me and I’ll update this article.

Within the US, there’s some bias toward staying in whatever location you’re currently in. Anyone at a West Coast office will more likely speak with West Coast recruiters and get West Coast opportunities. Same for anyone in New York, Chicago, etc.

This doesn’t mean you can’t move elsewhere if you want to.

But as you progress within finance, you do become more specialized – whether by industry, geography, or both.

Why – Living the Dream?

It’s 2 AM and you’ve just finished up a massive pitch you’ve been working on. You start working on your private equity resume and suddenly a thought hits you… “Why?”

Why you’d want to move into private equity from another field is an oft-ignored part of the entire recruiting process.

We covered a lot of this in The Myth of the Buy-Side Job, but recall that private equity will not be a significant improvement to your lifestyle (in most cases). This is especially true at the biggest firms, where hours can be worse than banking.

There’s some truth to getting paid more than you do in banking / consulting, but only a few firms guarantee specific bonuses.

In some cases, you may actually take a pay cut to move into PE – especially if you are a senior-level executive elsewhere or you’re moving in from another industry and you get “demoted” in the process.

As with anything else in finance, pay / “improved” hours / models and bottles (come on, you know I had to include at least one reference in this article) are poor reasons to do PE.

The best reason: if you’re interested in becoming an investor – either moving up the ladder at one firm, starting your own investment firm, or doing something independently (as an angel investor, for example).

Oh, and if you think PE experience makes you a shoe-in for Harvard Business School, think again – these days a lot of laid-off financiers are going back to school and admissions committees are losing their love for pure-finance-looking-guys/girls.

How – The Recruiting Process

How does the recruiting process actually work from beginning to end?

The larger firms are more standardized and follow a process similar to bulge bracket banks, whereas smaller firms have more extended processes and take longer to make decisions.


The first thing any headhunter / recruiter / PE guy will do is ask for your resume. We’ve covered private equity resumes before, so no need to go into that in detail again.

You should spend most of your space on whatever experience is most relevant – for a banker, this would be M&A / Leveraged Finance / Restructuring deals; for a consultant, it would be any finance-related clients / projects; for anyone in business development, it would be acquisitions you worked on.

Go into detail on the best deals / clients / projects to speak about in interviews and reduce the rest of your experience.

Initial Meeting

Your first meeting is usually with the recruiter representing each PE firm. They’re trying to weed out anyone unqualified and assess who has good modeling / deal experience.

Make sure you pick the right deals (more on that in Private Equity Resumes), and can explain how you made substantial contributions / did significant modeling work for each of them.

And make sure you come across as personable – a lot of my initial meetings were spent discussing adventures in Asia and other random topics that had nothing to do with finance.

It’s like anything else in business: you can be the best-qualified person in the world, but if the person you’re speaking with doesn’t like you, he or she is not going to work with you / promote you / recommend you.

Following this initial meeting, recruiters may introduce you to specific firms (if you’re deemed “worthy”).


Interviews can be a wild card and depend greatly on your background and what you’re applying for. We covered a lot of this in Private Equity Interviews, but here are the most important points:

  • Nearly all PE interviews involve an LBO modeling test, case study, or both.
  • Large-cap PEs will focus more on technical questions. Many interviews consist exclusively of advanced/obscure technical questions.
  • Smaller PEs are more fit-focused and try to determine your true motivation for moving into the industry. You should still expect case studies and modeling tests, though.
  • For these modeling tests, learn how to build a simple LBO model quickly (30 minutes or less). Don’t know how to do this? Stay tuned for an upcoming product…
  • For case studies, focus on simplicity and don’t try to come up with a really complex analysis. Being articulate is more important than being complicated.
  • Anyone from a banking/PE background should know his/her transactions very well.
  • Anyone coming from a non-traditional background needs to explain how he or she would fit into PE despite having no relevant experience – usually the best strategy is to focus on your operational experience and explain how you can pick up the finance side.


Big firms make decisions quickly and usually wrap up recruiting by April/May.

Smaller places prolong their decisions because 1) they can afford to be selective and 2) they are ultra-concerned with fit. I’ve heard accounts of candidates going through 5-10 rounds of interviews at smaller PE firms, and going to dinners, lunches, and other events before getting an offer (or a rejection…).

If you’re applying to a large firm but are not coming from a bulge bracket analyst background (e.g. you’re lateraling from another PE firm), the above does not apply and you may still go through many rounds of interviews spread over months.

Receiving an Offer

It’s almost impossible to receive multiple PE offers – typically, a firm only gives you an offer if you agree to accept it beforehand.

It’s not like the banking recruitment process where schools prevent firms from screwing people over – you’re not protected by an institution here, so the firms you’re interviewing with can do whatever they want.

At smaller firms there’s more room for negotiation on salary, bonuses, and other terms – but your negotiation power is directly proportional to your experience and what level you’re coming in at.

So if you’re going for PE right out of undergraduate, don’t think you can “negotiate” your way into a $500K base salary.

Living the Dream

Just remember everything here and you’ll be on your way to the promised land – or at least you’ll never have to do a pitch book again.

About the Author

is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys learning obscure Excel functions, editing resumes, obsessing over TV shows, and traveling so much that he's forced to add additional pages to his passport on a regular basis.

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348 Comments to “How to Get a Private Equity Job in 2,550 Words”


  1. Tom Francis says

    I’m currently a senior undergrad who has a job with a middle market bank upon graduation. My firm has a history of sending past analysts to good positions in PE firms. Would I need an MBA to advance past a certain level at the PE firm or would an undergrad finance degree be sufficient if I perform well?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. TB says


    I am a consultant in the Transaction Advisory services of a big 4 firm working on strategy and due diligence projects. I have an MBA from an top 10 school. I wanted to know what is the best way to reach headhunters since many of them have standard emails.


    • M&I - Nicole says

      I’d suggest you to call the firms directly, and ask to speak to their contacts covering XX sectors (i.e. HFs, AMs, IB, ER). I’d then ask them for their email addresses.

  3. Ester says

    I have 6 years banking experience after graduation. I have gone through dervative operations, futures clearing and for the past 3 years I work as FCM client services specialist. Registered for CF30 Customer controlled Functions. This year I am planning to start MIF programme in top university. What would be the logical step/ change in my carer to take now if I would like to change to PE? Thanks!

  4. Shimmer says


    I’m an accountancy student graduating this summer, based in Singapore. I’ve gotten an offer for a 6-month private equity internship at a newly established boutique firm, assisting the deals team and having the chance of converting to full time after the internship. I have another pending full-time audit offer. Do you think that the risk of accepting the pe job is too high? Since it’s a new firm with limited track records, I’m also not sure if it would add much value to my resume. What’s your take on this? Thank you so much for your input!

  5. Maggie says

    Hi Brian/Nicole,

    I have a question about networking. I am currently a first year in investment banking and looking for opportunity to break into private equity. I am working on a project (a pitch, not a live deal) for a PE firm, and I recently found out that the person at the PE firm my MDs were speaking to is actually an alumnus of my college. That person is one of the top managers in that PE firm. Is it appropriate for me to reach out to him regarding my interest in working in PE and potentially his company. What is the best way to approach this? Should I phrase it as an inquiry to an alumnus and mention that I am working on this project in my first email to him?
    Any advice would be much appreciated.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Yes I would suggest you to approach him. Tell him that you’re an alumnus, give him a brief background of your work experience and the project you’re involved in. Then tell him you’re interested in transitioning to PE, and that you would appreciate his insights. Also mention that you’d love to speak with him when he is available, and thank him for taking the time to read your email.

  6. Andy says


    I have a non-standard finance background: I completed two summer internships in IB and one at an activist investment fund. For the past 1,5 (out of college) I’ve been working as an analyst at a late-stage VC / growth capital investment arm of a European €1bn+ family office, gaining experience on now 8 completed deals.

    Would this profile be of interest to large PE funds in the US (KKR, BS or TGP) or bulge bracket growth equity firms (Summit) for analyst/associate positions? Also taking into consideration that I gained all my work experience Europe?

    Any thoughts on this are appreciated.

    Best, Andy

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I think this experience maybe more useful for growth equity firms. You’d probably enter as a senior analyst. I think the geographical difference is not a big deal because you are still relatively inexperienced.

  7. JD says

    Hi Brian/Nicole,

    I would like to eventually break into PE and would like some advice given my background/experience.

    – Education: Large public non-target, 3.8 undergrad GPA (accounting) and 3.75 GPA (MS Accounting w/ a bunch of MBA level finance course chosen as electives)
    – CPA, worked at a Big 4 firm for 1.5 years and realized I hated audit (no value added) so I got out ASAP.
    – Accepted a financial analyst (operations) job at a middle market financial advisory firm. Main responsibilities include creating/maintaining complex financial models for upper management, ad-hoc profitability analysis, pitches for potential recruits, due diligence & internal M&A modeling (i.e., cash flow and ROI analysis for potential acquisitions), succession planning, and dealing with vendor contracts and any other legal issues.

    Do I need to break into IB first for 2 years or would it be possible to break into a smaller PE firm directly given my experience? Any other tips? I’d rather not go back to school for my MBA until I payoff my current student loans and gain a couple more years of experience, as I’m aiming for top 10 if I decide to go that route.


    • M&I - Nicole says

      Its easier to break into PE after a stint at IB. Perhaps you can consider a Masters in Finance instead of an MBA? This will probably increase your chances of breaking in. In the meantime, I’d network a lot within your firm and see if you can transfer to the FO. Seems like you have had some DD and modeling experience so this should be useful. You just need a role that allows you to gain more transaction experience.

      You may find the links below useful:

      • JD says


        I’m hesitant to do a Masters in Finance. First, I’ve already taken many of those same courses as electives in my MS Accounting program. Second, I simply can’t afford to take out another 30k in loans and forego earning a salary for 1-2 years.

        So just to clarify, you’re saying a Masters in better than a top 15 MBA in my situation?

          • Ben says

            Hi Nicole

            Given the opportunity cost of doing a MBA (income forgone and costs of doing a MBA), I’m thinking of doing a 1 year MBA at INSEAD (likely Singapore campus) instead of a traditional 2-year MBA at a US M7 (H/S/W). However, I’m wondering if IBs actually do recruit career changers at 1 year programs such as INSEAD’s?

            I would love to hear your take on this. Thank you.

  8. Bob says


    How much does undergraduate GPA matter for PE recruiting? Let’s say you have a 3.3 from a top 15 school and did banking at a middle market firm prior to PE recruiting. What are your chances of getting an offer? Thanks for your help.

      • Bob says

        Thanks Nicole. That is very helpful. So I shouldn’t be too stressed about not getting an offer due solely to my GPA? I can still get an offer and break into the industry if I get good deal experience and learn to model well? Thanks again.

        • M&I - Nicole says

          It can be challenging to make it past the first round if banks screen your resume through your GPA. However, if you network a lot, have great deal experience, and can pitch well, there’s a chance you can break in. You’ll probably have to focus on boutiques/2nd/3rd tier banks to increase your chances.

  9. Alan says

    Brian/M&I Readers

    I need some advice reg. PE chances. I am joining a top 5 bschool, having previously worked at a leading consumer finance firm in the US. for the past 5 months I have been doing a pre-mba PE gig at a well known US PE firm in its India office. I am interested to transition to PE for b-school internship and job.
    1. Does my current PE gig help or is it too short of a duration?

    2. Do I need to necessarily target consulting or banking jobs out of bschool in order to hopefully make it to PE later? If not, how can I manage this transition?

    Please help
    Thanks a lot

      • Alan says

        Nicole – thanks for the link. Sure did help.

        In my pre-mba PE internship, I worked on a live deal, built models for another deal and also worked on portfolio ops. When I interact with other firms and showcase what I did, will it hurt my chances if I talk about portfolio ops? Or can I showcase both deal and Ops side of my experience?

        • says

          No, talk about both the deal and operational side of your experience and both parts will help.

          Also, given that you’ve done the PE internship and are now doing an MBA you might have a shot at PE without banking/consulting first so I don’t think you necessarily need to pursue one of those.

  10. BB_Analyst says

    Hello Brian,

    Thank You for the great article.

    I am starting in BB bank this September in sector coverage group in London.

    I was wondering how can an analyst ask his staffer to do more PE-related deals and to have more LBO modeling exposure. I am concerned that if I were to ask for these directly the staffer and colleagues would understand I want to move to PE and it will negatively impact my relations with colleagues and the work in general.

    Moreover, would a move to let’s say GS Lev Fin after the 1st year be reasonable and will improve chances to land interviews in megafunds or it is better to focus on building relationships with colleagues to have a better deal exposure in my current bank?

    Thank You!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Try to be friends with the staffer. You can say that you’re interested in learning more about LBO modeling and request for a bit more exposure. I don’t think he/she would know that you want to move to PE as long as you aren’t too “blatant” re your intention to move, and it is common for many people from IB to look for PE roles.

      Yes moving to GS levfin may increase your chances though your quick moves (i.e. one year at your firm, one year at GS, and then looking to transition into PE) maybe questioned. And honestly the name at your current BB maybe comparable to GS’ name so it may not necessarily make a big difference

  11. John says


    I’m a current senior at a top 5 UG business program. Did my SA in the restructuring group of a MM bank, got the FT IB offer but in their FIG group. The FIG group at my bank does extremely well in the MM but I’m concerned about the scope of experience given that FIG analysis vs. other industries is very different.

    I was wondering how you think this might affect my PE prospects (in addition to coming from a MM bank) assuming that I end up taking this FT FIG role. My ultimate goal is to get an analyst/ associate job at a top 20 PE firm. My idea right now is that I should try to network into a boutique PE shop after a couple years as an analyst, spend a few years at the PE firm, then try to get into a top business school and apply to the big boys out of there.

    Any thoughts on this plan? How to approach networking/ spinning the FIG experience?

    Much appreciated.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Yes you don’t want to pigeon-hole yourself in FIG; you also want to gain more exposure to LBO modeling. In terms of spinning FIG experience try to talk about the LBO models you’d have done. You may also find this article of interest to you:

      If you don’t have any other offers on hand I’d take this role and try your best to move to another group in 1-2 years. You may then be able to skip the B-school route and move to a top tier PE fund directly. Otherwise, yes b-school may help you retool your experience

  12. Rabeel Saqib says


    I’m Rabeel Saqib,i am a student, currently finished high school and now i am applying for my undergraduate course at the University of Sydney, Australia
    Firstly, i would like to thank you for sharing such valuable information, i have done a lot of research on PE’s and by far now this has been the best article i have read.
    I would like to pursue my career in the investment field and will do whatever it takes to work for one of the best PE’s in the world, may it be scoring a 4.0 GPA, succeeding in co-curricular, leading a team of members to do a certain task, Having work experience with positive results. I believe i possess the leadership qualities needed to work in a PE and i would be an asset to them.
    My question for you is, what bachelor’s degree would be the best to secure a career in investment and as i have stated above i would want to work for a PE. And ss stated in the article above, PE’s do not hire employees right after graduation, got that, i will do masters when the time comes for that, but first comes first.
    With wide range of degree’s available in the modern world, it becomes very tricky to choose the right one for you to succeed in the career you have decided for yourself and the first question that comes to my mind”Which degree is perfect for perusing a career in investment?”
    I am just 18 right now and i want to secure my future and make sure that i am talking all the right steps from the start to get where i want to be.
    This is where i would need your expertise to advise me onto choosing the right degree for my future goals.

  13. tomas says

    International PE and IB question here.
    I plan to do an MBA in the US at a top 5 school in 2 to 3 years.
    I have two offers in Mexico City. PE firm (about 70 Million in investments) and a Boutique bank that is somewhat well known in the area.

    I could try to secure PE or IB jobs at even bigger firms in Mexico, Argentina or Chile (Goldman Sachs, BAML, etc.)

    My goal is to work in PE or IB and then go and do my MBA. My final goal would be to secure a PE job, and if not possible, an IB (BB) job in the US, London, HK, or another major financial hub (Unlike Mexico City)

    My question relates to this:
    Latin American companies are generally considered a bit less fast-paced and not as serious professionally (trust me, it’s true, and recruiters will probably think this way).

    1. What are my chances of getting hired by big PE, IB firms in major financial hubs after I finish my MBA?
    2. Are big names (Goldman Sachs, etc) helpful even if it’s Latin America?
    3. I will probably have to leverage my experience in LATAM at the firms I apply to. Given I get my dream job, what are my chances of gradually moving to a technology related division rather than LATAM?

    Sorry for the long question and thank you for your help.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      – I’d say 50/50. You’ll still be competing against people who’ve had experience in US IBs. And your lack of visa in US & UK, language skills in HK may be an “obstacle” though you can overcome it by having the right network and pitch. A target MBA will boost your chances quite significantly in your case, unless you’re very good in IB and can secure a role at a BB in LatAm and then progress internationally
      – Yes big names are helpful
      – I’m not sure re. your 3rd question

      • tomas says

        Thank you Nicole,

        I was just assuming that even if I get a job in, say, NYC, I would probably be put into the LATAM division. Truth is I would like to work in the technology division at a PE or IB. So while I recognize I will probably have to work in the LATAM division after my MBA, I was wondering how hard it is to switch to another division.

        I guess this is just a general question not pertaining just to me. Simply put, in PE or IB once you are in one division, how hard is it to move to another division that you prefer? especially in post analyst positions?

        • M&I - Nicole says

          I think switching to another division after your MBA is relatively straightforward as long as you can clearly articulate why and have the relevant skill sets. If you’re already in PE/IB you can move around, and it is probably easier earlier in your career. However, for some groups like FIG and real estate they maybe more specialized and can be slightly more challenging.

          • tomas says

            Again great answer Nicole and thanks for your help.

            Going back to a previous question, What would be more highly regarded by a big PE firm in the US:
            1. IB in a BB in Latin America? or
            2. PE in a smaller firm in Latin America?

            I’m assuming the BB but would like to hear your thoughts.

  14. Jack says

    Hi, I’m a senior at a 2nd tier college (think BC, Cornell, USC, etc.) considering taking a job next year as an analyst at an investment management firm. Does investment management provide any transferrable skills to PE? Or by taking this job am I eliminating any chance of going into PE eventually?
    Many thanks,

  15. George says

    Concerning your remark at the end of the article:

    “It’s almost impossible to receive multiple PE offers – typically, a firm only gives you an offer if you agree to accept it beforehand.”

    Forgive me for sounding obtuse, but what does this mean exactly? Do you mean that it’s not permitted (or highly inadvisable) for an analyst to interview with multiple firms? Would reneging on such a “pre-accepted” offer be met with a caning, or some other horrible punishment?

    Thanks for your thoughts!

    • says

      It means that the firm is generally not going to give you an offer unless you say in advance as part of the interview process, “Yes, I’m interested and will accept any offer you give me.”

      You could still renege on offers, even if the firm gives you one at that stage, but it’s not a great idea since word gets around.

      Initially interviewing with multiple firms is fine, but you should narrow it down during the interview process.

  16. Lee Ryan says

    Hello, I am currently finishing up my undergrad in Accounting. I will then be doing my masters. I am considering IB and have been reading a few of your articles. My reasons for considering this move as opposed to working for one of the big four in assurance are mostly monetarily driven given my age (31) and beginning a career. Do you have any advice or input?

  17. Supermonkey says


    I am a big fan of your website, in fact I couldn’t get my current IB job without reading your article. The approach I took, which has been heavily emphazied by you is networking. I emailed the sister of my college friend who is working at a boutique investment bank and nailed the interview. Now, I am thinking about how to take a leap to PE. Here is a question, my parents know the principal of Warburg Pincus, what is the chances of me to get into this PE? Since I have only been working at this boutique for 3 months, shall I approach him until I have more deal experience, say like after one or two years?


    • M&I - Nicole says

      Thank you for your feedback. I’m glad you find our site useful. You maybe able to get an interview. You can still approach him now though it is likely he will ask you to approach him later when you have more experience. However, it is always a good idea to have a head start first.

  18. Mehdi says

    Brian and Nicole,

    Many thanks for the great article and supporting answers. Would it be possible to make a comment on the private equity/hedge fund recruiters or agencies in the UK and/or Canada?

    Thanks in advance.

    – Mehdi

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Did you mean recommendations on PE recruiters? I haven’t worked with one personally in UK or Canada so I’d be hesitant to recommend one. Have you checked out global firms like Heidrick or even Glocap (not sure if they are in those regions)?

  19. ConfusedBanker says

    Hi – I have a question reg. post-mba IBD and PE exits.
    I am at a top5 US b-school. Deciding between internship offers at BB banks.

    1. Financial Sponsors at a ‘modeling heavy’ team (CS/BofA Merrill)
    2. FIG in an overall top tier bank (MS/JPM)

    The goal is to maximize odds of a PE exit after 1-2 years as post-mba associate. I have some experience (< 1 yr) in PE pre-mba. I've heard about the 'niche' nature of FIG, but you learn both EBITDA-based and non-EBITDA based valuations. Please share your thoughts on the trade-off (great brand/FIG vs good brand/Sponsors). Help me decide!


      • ConfusedBanker says

        Thanks. Given its post-mba, odds of IB->PE are anyway low. Given that, from a PE firm’s point of view, would the industry expertise (FIG) in a top tier firm be a better ‘edge’ after 1-2 years Vs just the modeling skillsets with no industry depth (FSG)? Curious to know what you think..

        • says

          In general, #1 is still better because recruiters are idiots and don’t understand that even in FIG you still do traditional modeling as well. And often they will try to pigeonhole you into doing FIG for the rest of your life, which limits your PE options since not that many firms specialize in the sector.

  20. taha bouzrara says

    hi i was asking myself is it possible to be working on the sell side (stock broker ) and then work on PE

  21. Danny says

    Just landed an analyst internship at a small PE firm out west…one-year position, so naturally I’m trying to plan my next move.

    Would I be better off seeking a “real” job after my year is over, or take the dive into into an MBA program?

  22. Zainab says

    Hello Bryan, Thank you for your article.

    I have done internships in Investment Banking ( M&A and ECM) before and just after graduation, got involved in a start-up.

    Is it valuable for a PE to have experience in entrepreneurship? if so, how can I value this experience to be shortlisted for an interview?

    Thank you in advance for your answer!

      • Zainab says

        Thank you Nicole for your answer. I read your article. My main concern now is about my latest experience in entrepreneurshipt ( which king of “hides” my experience in M&A & ECM).

        I do not get shortlisted anymore for PE roles since I have added entrepreneurship experience ( which lasts 6 month)

        How can I enhance the value of this experience to get shortlisted for interviews in PE?

        • M&I - Nicole says

          This is a broad question and I can’t comment on this because I have not worked with you before. I don’t think your entrepreneurship experience would have held you back. In a nutshell, you want to highlight your valuation/deal experience.

          The article I sent you gives you a good framework on what PE firms are looking for: If you go back and read through it carefully it should help you. “The most important point is to detail your specific role on the deal and also point out anything unique you did. Did you find something in due diligence that led to your firm not doing the deal? Did you come up with a better capital structure that allowed the deal to progress? In an ideal case, you can point to how you moved the deal forward, helped win a higher/lower price, or uncovered a red flag during due diligence.”

          Unfortunately we can’t add more to what we’ve just said unless you’re a BIWS member.

          • Xao says

            Thank you so much Nicole for your help! I really appreciate that! the content on the website is very good quality and I am sure your program is at the same level! I am considering your coaching + access of Bryan’s tutorial offer and will get back to you soon!

  23. Brad says

    Hi guys, I’m currently a first year structured products associate at a middle market bank in London. I’ve got a decent experience in securitising exotic asset classes for third party banks (I’ve been doing this for 2 years, and the deals are small and private but the pipeline has been good), but next to zero LevFin/M&A experience, except for a short summer gig at another MM shop a few years ago. I’m interested in broader financial institutions business, and was thinking of trying to make a jump to a sector-focused PE. Does my capital markets background put me at a disadvantage? Or would my focus on that specific sector (banks and specialty finance comps) be a big enough advantage to counter that? I’m doing lots of modelling in my current role, including some FIG-specific stuff, but no traditional LBO.

  24. says


    Thank you for the concise and illuminating article. In contrast with many of the contributors here, I am a high school student interested in pursuing a career in PE or IB. I am currently attending a USA Top 20 High school in New Mexico and plan on majoring in finance/econ with a minor in mathematics at an American top-tier/Ivy League college, working in the industry for a few years, and then attending B-school at a top-10. I have no current connections to PE or IB.

    With the benefit of hindsight at your disposal, would you have any special advice or recommendations with regards to boosting my resume ahead of time or improving my chances at landing a job in IB/PE? Any advice that would have served you well at my age? This is surely an open-ended question, but any feedback would be appreciated.

    Thanks for taking the time to read my post!

    Best Regards

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I think you’re already well ahead of the curve. Focus on getting into an Ivy League school first. Then join an investment club, build alumni network and get summer internships (as early as sophomore summer if you can)

  25. Mike says


    I am a qualified accountant who has just completed graduate training contract in audit of one of the Big 4 firms and I will be moving to a top 10 accounting practice to work in their transaction services and corporate finance team advising on financial services M&A.

    Do you think this route might lead to a PE career and have you got any advice to make it more probable going forward?

  26. Gary says


    i have 5 yrs of banking and investment experience . Currently I work for a large brokerage firm as an investment advisor where I have been involved in financial consulting and research.I also hold an MBA in finance degree.

    Do you think this kind of qualification can get me into Private equity? What would you advice me to do in order to get into Private equity firm and can you please suggest me with the names of headhunters in Houston Texas area that specialize in recruiting Private Equity?

    Thank You


  27. K says

    Hey all. About 2.5 years in sell side equity research, bulge bracket. No target b school. Basically my next step is to go junior analyst but what are the chances of making the jump to the transaction side?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      You’ve got decent chance if you have the network. I don’t think you’d need bschool but you’d need to network a lot!

  28. Max says

    I am a final year Oxbridge student with internships at MBB and a European mid-market PE firm.
    I would like to apply for large-cap PE analyst positions in the US but unfortunately don’t have the network or headhunter contacts.

    For submitting my applications, I see three options. Which one would you suggest?
    1. Request HR email address via phone, send resume through directly.
    2. Try to network with somebody at the firm by sending them an email or connecting via Linkedin. Some VPs studied at my university (doing the same course); some Analysts/Associates previously worked at the same MBB firm. How would I approach this, who do I contact?
    3. Approach various PE headhunters proactively, at the risk of being referred to a firm I am not particularly interested in.

    Thank you.

    Best regards,

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Yes I’d suggest 1 and 2. I’d connect with people at the group and bank you want to work for on LinkedIn.

      3 may potentially work but chances can be slimmer, worth a try

  29. Michael DeLalio says

    I work as a research associate at a major asset manager (Fidelity, Wellington, AllianceBernstein, etc) evaluating corporate securities on the credit side. Without the transaction experience that comes in investment banking, is the switch to PE possible or is it too much of a leap? What would be the best route to the industry?

  30. Ryan says

    How do you get the interviews with the head hunters? Even if you are in a good group at a bulge bracket, I have heard you must be a top analyst to get the attention of the better head hunting firms. Is it beneficial to reach out to the top head hunting firms yourself even if you are at a brand name bank?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Not necessarily. Most HH will be reaching out to you if you’re at a BB. Otherwise, you can connect with them through social connections (drinks etc). Or you can reach out to HHs via email and introduce yourself – many will take appointments with you. So yes it is beneficial to broaden your network by reaching out to HHs, but whether it is useful to get jobs through HHs or not is another story:

      • Ryan says

        I read the article you posted and it said that knowing people at private equity firms is more important than HH. If I don’t know anyone at these firms, can I start cold emailing people and speaking on the phone with them? Or is it different from the IB process and cold emailing is not appreciated? Also, if this is appropriate, how early can I start reaching out to people? Is it too eager to reach out to people at PE firms before starting your IB job?

        • M&I - Nicole says

          Yes, of course you can start networking with people. No, I believe you can still cold-email GPs, though many of them are busy so you’d want to keep your email short and to the point. Its best to have some common connections (for instance alumni network), but if not you can reach out to them too. I think if you’re in your 2nd year, you can reach out to people. Maybe a bit early but never too early to get started since networking is a marathon, not a sprint. should also help you.

  31. Stewart says

    Is it necessary to get your MBA to advance at a certain point in PE? Should I take my GMATs before starting IB FT?

  32. Jorge says

    Hello, I am portfolio manager (I am CFA and CAIA) of a south American pension fund with an AUM of $16 Bn, my main function is to lead the due diligence and asset allocation of the alternative investment program (close to $ 1.5 Bn) of the pension fund , it includes private equity, real estate, infrastructure and private debt. The pension fund gets exposure to the asset classes just through funds (indirectly), so I know about the PE industry, but I don’t have direct experience dealing with M&A `s process. I have spent about 3.5 year in my current job, before that I worked for 1.5 years in risk management and before that I spent 2 years in the corporate finance area of a steel maker. Now I am 29 year old and I have to choose between a TOP 10 MBA (so expensive) and a high quality MBA (a little bit less expensive), I would like to know if I have any possibility to get into PE? What MBA should I have to choose?, What should be better try to get some experience n M&A (Big 4) or spend more time in my current job in order to take advantage of my networking as an institutional investor in PE funds?

  33. Ayman Elzahed says


    Before my recent migration to the United States, I had 19 years of hands on experience in Private Equity, Investment banking and strategic management .

    Sample of Achievements; restructured $3 Billion direct Investment portfolio, led negotiation, valuation and closing of $250 M merger, achieved capital gain of $15M and slashed Inter-Companies dues by 12% in one fiscal year, prepared $ 150 M SME fund business plan, and restored 5 frozen subsidiaries into productivity and profitability.

    Through out my career I worked closely and directly with North American and European colleagues, clients, investors and transactions. But I never worked in North America before. How could I overcome this issue when approaching PE firms and recruiters?

    Thank you

  34. Jordan says

    Hi Nicole,
    I am a 25 year old ivy league grad, magna cum laude, finance concentration, currently in my first year as an IB m&a analyst at a boutique that works on $500M+ deals with public companies . I worked for three years as a trader before switching to IB. My goal is to become a PE associate. What is the best route to take?
    – Try to move to a bulge bracket after the first year where the brand name will help with recruiters
    – Stay for two years and reach out to recruiters hoping to get a chance because of a good resume but not a brand name bank

    I am concerned / think it hurts my chances that I am three years behind the traditional path to PE and recruiters/PE firms may not want a 26 year old first year pre-mba associate.


  35. matthew says

    Dear M&I

    I’d very much like to get into Private Equity a few years down the line (currently a college senior), but I’m not currently in the running for any M&A/IBD generalist roles at the moment. I do, however, have a couple of offers from various positions within BBs/MMs, such as credit risk, fixed income, equity research, and a few other things.

    My question to you use for private equity recruiting, other than McKinsey M&A consulting, do any other lines of work stand a chance in becoming PE analysts? Perhaps some capital markets groups, or equity research? Any and all non-IBD roles you could mention would be helpful, thanks.

  36. Paul says

    Hi and thanks for the great article. It’s very informative, especially for those of us currently outside the PE industry.

    As with many others above I have a questions relating to making a move into PE. I have an Undergraduate Arts Degree and a Masters of Arts Administration, plus 10 years working experience as a senior project manager and live entertainment producer, primarily on international projects.

    Across my career I have developed a love of the deal making and financing of international entertainment companies and projects and wanted to make the move in PE, but not sure if my academic and work experience is right.
    I gather PE firms working in the entertainment industry would be small, but it is a highly lucrative industry and my specialised skills could be of use.

    Any thoughts you have would be appreciated.

  37. Raina says

    Hi i am a cost accountant but have not worked since past so many years.Now i want to get into work .If i do private equity certification,what are my chances of getting a job in a firm as analyst ?

  38. Mary says

    Hi there! I’m a staff consultant at a big 4 in their advisory program, with a business analysis background both in the industry and now in in the financial services advisory group. I have not worked on deal flow (strategy), but work exclusively on finance industry projects. Do I still have a shot at going into private equity from this position?

  39. James says

    Hello Nicole

    Great responses above!

    I am UK based and currently the Finance Director for a boutique Prime Broker in Mayfair, London. I am a chartered accountant by profession and trained in audit 10 years ago, immediately moving to asset management 7 years ago as a Management Accountant but with decent exposure to the Ventures side. I have worked for large, medium and small companies, and would describe myself as commercial and entrepreneurial. In my current firm (a high growth prime broker) i built the finance functiion from scratch (team, systems etc) and have solely dealt with selling minority stakes in the business.
    Currently doing the Executive MBA at Cambridge (Judge Business School) and massively interested in Africa focused PE (as I am Nigerian origin plus recently spent some time at Latin America and got very excited about PE).

    1) At what level would someone like me get involved in PE?
    2) In what capacity given my background?
    3) What should I be doing now if I want to move into PE?

    Any advice welcome :).


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