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Breaking into private equity straight out of MBA without prior finance work experice?


William Wang Philadelphia, PA

I'm wrapping up my time as an Army officer and will start MBA studies at The Wharton School in August. Is there a way for me to break into PE straight out of MBA without going into IB first?

If such a jump is unlikely in the US, is it a viable path to break into PE at an American firm in China straight out of Wharton? If that works out, how hard will it be to return to the US PE market after a few years in China?

Here's a little more about me: Since 2017, I have performed multiple analytical and managerial roles usually filled by Army officers 5-10 years my senior. During this period, I have also advised and translated for top US generals for the Asia-Pacific during numerous engagements with Chinese generals, as I'm fluent in high-level Mandarin Chinese. In 2014 I graduated from West Point in the top 5% of my class with concentrations in Arabic, French, and Nuclear Engineering.

29 July 2020 1 reply Career Exploration



Keith Van Sickle Menlo Park, CA

Hi William,

I can't speak to your specific path but I have experience at an MBA program like Wharton (I went to HBS.) First, I would try to connect with professors who have connections into the PE world, as I am sure there are plenty at Wharton. Ask for their advice and potentially for their help. Second, work with the school's career center, as I'm sure it is top-notch. Third, look for a position in PE during the summer between your two years of business school, as a successful summer stint often results in a permanent job offer.

Of course, after you explore things further, you may decide that PE isn't for you. But that's part of a business education. Keep your mind open, as there are plenty of interesting paths that you might pursue.

Best of luck and please let me know if you have other questions I can help you with.

Best regards,

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