Land Your Dream Job in Private Equity
So, you want to get into private equity? As any job recruiter will tell you — that isn’t a small feat. It takes hard work, plenty of schooling, and NETWORKING to get your foot in the door at a private equity firm. Just ask Samuel Smith, an analyst at a PE firm that specializes in the energy sector.
In an interview with Vault.com, Smith says he’s living proof that landing a coveted PE job can be done. As you read in the following excerpts, you’ll find one recurring theme played a big role in landing his first job: Networking. Smith explained:
“As an undergraduate, the first step I took to improve my chances of landing a job was to start networking. I created an account on LinkedIn and began following private equity firms and joining PE groups such as the Hedge Fund, Private Equity & Alternative Investments Networking Group. This helped me learn a lot more about which companies were fundraising, which companies typically hired summer associates, and other facts. I also reached out to recruiters and employees of some of the PE firms in my area of interest (energy). I didn’t ask for a job or an internship, but instead just requested an information interview. I sent out probably 25 requests, and a few people were nice enough to talk to me on the phone or via e-mail.”
First, I landed a summer internship as a finance department associate at a portfolio company. One of my LinkedIn group contacts mentioned that his company was launching an internship program, so I applied. After graduation, I applied for analyst positions at investment banks. No luck at first, but after a lot of hard work, I was offered a position by a well-known New York-based investment bank. This bank provided investment advice to many PE firms, and I was able to hone my skills and gain valuable experience as a team member on several major deals.
Everything was going well, but I still hadn’t met my goal: landing a job in the PE industry.
During this time, I enrolled in Columbia’s MBA program and continued to network on LinkedIn, talk to my professors about job opportunities, and learn as much as I could about the PE industry. One of my professors suggested that I join the business school’s Private Equity & Venture Capital Club and volunteer at its annual Private Equity & Venture Capital Conference.
Long story short: I volunteered at the conference and met several general partners who were speaking at the event. And here’s where the luck I mentioned earlier comes in. One of the speakers was the GP who gave me an informational interview a few years back. He remembered me right away. I updated him on my educational and career activities since we last talked. He was very encouraging, but said that his firm wasn’t hiring currently. After the event ended, I sent the GP a thank you note along with my business card and pretty much thought that was it. But two weeks later, the GP called me to let me know that a colleague at another firm was seeking an MBA hire for an entry-level position. Several interviews later, I was offered a job!”
Smith’s takeaway: Make networking almost your full-time job. Get to know as many people as you can within the PE industry. But do more than shake hands; talk to people. With a little luck and excellent timing, Smith says it IS possible to break into the PE industry. Diligence is key.
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Are you considering a private equity position? Need help planning your own job search strategies? Learn more about open private equity, finance, and accounting industry opportunities with a Search Consultant from Lexacount Search’s Finance Group. Or, if you need assistance in managing your career development, contact a Career Counselor with Lexacount Search’s Career Consulting Services.