How to Make a Career in Top Private Equity Firms?

Private equity is a source of amassing capital from wealthy individuals and institutions with the intent of investing and obtaining equity ownership in operational companies.

In this post, I am going to cover top private equity firms and how can you make a career in them.

The goal of investing in private equity is to gain favorable returns over a period.

A private equity investment will be made by private equity firms that undertake this task of investing with the intent of generating profits for the firm and its clientele.

In today’s economy with private equity firms becoming an important part of the world economy, the career prospects in this area are increasing exponentially.

The career in private equity is rewarding and this article is to help individuals who are aspiring to venture into this field and also those who want to move to private equity business from their existing banking jobs.

The entry-level position in a typical Private Equity (PE) Firm would be of an ‘Analyst’ or an ‘Associate’ and the regular hierarchy within a PE firm is as shown below:

PE Firms Hierarchy

The roles and responsibilities are somewhat rigid and defined from top to bottom.

For example, the senior professionals at MD and VP level would handle managing relations and taking investment decisions whereas the juniors would be mostly carrying out the analytical work.

In short, the PE firms do not have many layers of hierarchy as they are usually smaller than investment banks.

The advantage of this is, it gives a tremendous opportunity for new joiners to work and learn through direct interaction with the seasoned professionals within the firm.

Kick-Start Your Career in Top Private Equity Firms

Private equity can be interesting if you enjoy working with people, performing research, doing analysis and presentation, and finally managing finances.

As there is no set of predefined steps that one can follow to enter this industry, the following sections in the article will enlighten you with information about:

the job description, work experience, educational background that the best private equity firms in the world today are looking for.

Let us begin with the top 12 private equity firms and know what they expect from a candidate seeking an entry-level position.

1. TPG Creative Capital Firm

TPG is presently the leading private investment firm in the world. Their business focus covers a broad range of sectors like financial service, IT & communication technology, consumer products, healthcare, media & entertainment, travel, industrial, and retail business.


Expectations from candidates at Entry-Level: 

Candidate must have an MBA or a degree in finance, mathematics, economics, statistics, and accounting. It is mandatory to have prior work experience of 2-3 years as an investment banker or management consultant.

Job Description for Entry-Level PE Analyst:

  • Candidate must have extensive knowledge of TPG’s industrial sectors.
  • Must know how to apply Lean operations practice to increase efficiency and reduce wastage.
  • Monitor the assigned portfolio and regularly update it.
  • Research to identify strategic advantages across the TPG portfolio.
  • Good modeling skills to present portfolio and the results to seniors and stakeholders.
  • Ability to research and present the pros and cons of new investment opportunities to a senior team within the firm.

2. The Blackstone Group

They are leading today in asset management and as an advisory firm to investors. Their business focus is on private equity, real estate, hedge fund solutions, and non-investment grade credit.


Expectations from candidates at Entry-Level: 

At entry-level there are two positions: one is for a PE Analyst and the other is PE Associate.

The primary requirement is 2 to 4 years of work experience in either or both the public and private sectors. The basic educational qualification required is a CPA or a graduate degree. However, for an Associate position post-MBA candidates are preferred.

Job Description for Entry-Level:  

  • The candidate is required that they assist seniors in direct acquisitions, divestitures, restructuring, recapitalization, joint ventures, and LBOs across sectors of mid-sized and large portfolio companies.
  • An Analyst’s work will include performing financial and competitive analysis, drafting internal and external memos, assist seniors in the implementation of transactions, computer modeling, and research.
  • An Associate’s job includes monitoring and managing current portfolios for potential exits, investment, and acquisition opportunities.

3. Kohlberg Kravis Roberts

The KKR firm manages investments across numerous asset classes. They include hedge funds, energy, infrastructure and real estate, credit, and capital markets.


Expectations from candidates at Entry-Level: 

The entry-level position is that of an Associate. The basic educational qualification required is a Masters or Bachelor’s degree in finance, business management, consultation, economics, or mathematics.

The candidate must have previous work experience of 2-3 years in a reputed PE firm or investment bank and must possess working knowledge of software like Microsoft Office, Bloomberg Terminal, Visual Basic, PowerPoint, data analysis, and valuation.

Job Description for Entry-Level:

  • Assist and perform portfolio management and monitoring.
  • Gather data, analyze, and present information to seniors using tools like Excel, PowerPoint, and Visual Basic.
  • Preparing preliminary due diligence reports and modeling with growth forecasts for assigned portfolios.

4. Goldman Sachs Principal Investment Area

They are a leading firm providing services and strategic advice to individuals and companies with respect to mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, spin-offs, risk management, and debt &equity underwriting.


Expectations from candidates at Entry-Level: 

The candidate must be an MBA with 2-3 years of work experience in a similar industry to join as an Associate at entry-level. Fluency in multiple languages like English, French, and German is an added advantage.

Job Description for Entry-Level:

  • The role of an associate includes planning, structuring, and executing financing transactions in the public and private markets.
  • Advising portfolio companies on mergers, acquisitions, and strategies.

5. The Carlyle Group

The Carlyle group have investors ranging from wealthy individuals and families to private & public pension funds, and other sovereigns like unions and corporations.

They focus on sectors like telecommunications, media, power & energy, real estate, and defense to name a few.


Expectations from candidates at Entry-Level: 

The entry-level jobs offered are as a PE Associate/Analyst.

They require either a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree from a reputed institute along with 2-3 years of work experience in banking, consulting, or preferably private equity.

Job Description for Entry-Level:

  • The job profile requires focusing on buyout and acquisition opportunities in the respective sectors by studying analysis based on public filings.
  • Comprehensive industry research, utilizing resources and tools such as the Internet, professional database, Bloomberg, Factiva, Thomson Finance, and expert interviews.
  • Prepare internal analysis reports, formal documents such as investment memo’s, and assist in preliminary deal screening efforts

6. CVC Capital Partners

CVC manages capital for over 300 institutions, government organizations, and private investors worldwide.

They focus on venture capital, high net-worth individuals, and LBOs.


Expectations from candidates at Entry-Level: 

The entry-level job for an undergraduate is either as an Operations Analyst or Associate.

The educational qualification required is either an MBA or master’s degree in finance, economics, and marketing along with some relevant work experience in the Private Equity field.

Job Description for Entry-Level:

  • As an Analyst, the primary responsibilities include performance and portfolio analysis along with handling the operations and trade support.
  • To work and assist seniors in business development and fundraising opportunities.

7. Apax Partners

They focus on investing funds in four sectors i.e. Consumer, Health, Services, and Tech & Telco.


Expectations from candidates at Entry-Level: 

The entry-level jobs are as Associates or Analysts.

The basic educational qualification required is either a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Economics, Policy Analysis, General Engineering, and Chemical Engineering.

Job Description for Entry-Level:

  • The candidates are required to work on multiple transactions in the sector assigned.
  • Consult and advise clients and team members along with managing the portfolios.

8. Apollo Global Management

They focus on nine core Sectors as a part of their Private Equity investment business.

These are Chemicals,Commodities,Consumer & Retail, Distribution & Transportation, Financial & Business Services, Manufacturing & Industrial,Media, Cable & Leisure, Packaging & Materials, and Satellite& Wireless.

Expectations from candidates at Entry-Level: 

The entry-level jobs are either as a Private Equity Associate or an Analyst.

The basic educational qualification required is a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Finance and Business Administration.

The candidate must have knowledge of working with Microsoft Office/Excel/Word/PowerPoint, and Bloomberg Terminal.

Job Description for Entry-Level:

Analysts are expected to take complex, different ideas and convert these into simple, challenging concepts.

9. Bain Capital

They have expertise in the areas of Consumer, Retail, Dining, Financial & business services, Healthcare, Industry & Energy, Telecom, Media, and Technology.


Expectations from candidates at Entry-Level: 

The entry-level jobs for undergraduates are of an Associate Consultant and Associate Consultant Intern. For MBA graduates, the profile is of either a Summer Associate or Summer Consultant.

Job Description for Entry-Level:

  • The candidate will be required to research, structure and perform analysis to highlight and support Bain’s recommendations to clients.
  • Working closely with full-time consultants.
  • Presenting the results of your work to partners and clients

10. Oaktree Capital Management

This firm majorly deals in asset classes like Corporate Debts, Convertible securities, Distressed Debt, Control Investing, Real Estate and REITs, and Listed Equities.


Expectations from candidates at Entry-Level: 

The qualification required is a bachelor’s degree from a top university or college along with 1-3 years of work experience at an investment bank, asset management firm, or consulting firm.

Job Description for Entry-Level:

  • Analyzing markets, products, and new business prospects to develop recommendations on the applicable plan for Oaktree.
  • Performing quantitative and qualitative analysis, with diligence, valuation, and creating benchmarks by studying industries and sectors for Oaktree.
  • Building detailed financial models and preparing presentations for senior management and external stakeholders.

11. Hellman & Friedman

This firm currently invests in management buyouts in areas like financial services, Health Care, Energy & Industrials, Insurance, Internet, Digital Marketing, Software, Retail, and Consumer.


Expectations from candidates at Entry-Level: 

The entry-level position is that of an Associate with educational qualification of a bachelor’s or master’s degree in Mathematics, Economics, Biomedical, Engineering, and Business Administration along with previous work experience.

Job Description for Entry-Level:

  • Prepare spreadsheet analysis of the impacts for the potential LBO.
  • Identify new opportunities and potential buyout candidates through research and screening.
  • Prepare and present data for senior members for a new opportunity.

12. General Atlantic

This firm focuses on areas like business services, retail & consumer, financial services, health care, and internet & technology.


Expectations from candidates at Entry-Level: 

The entry-level job is as a Private Equity Associate with previous work experience in a similar sector.

The basic educational qualification required is a bachelor’s degree in computer science, engineering, and economics with knowledge of the foreign language.

Job Description for Entry-Level:

  • Work on Merger and Acquisition deals; prepare and present data for the same.
  • Creating modeling structures and present the same to team members, clients, and stakeholders.
  • Assist in creating valuations, identifying opportunities in the form of LBOs, expansion, new sector, etc.

The job description, a professional and educational qualification that is required for applying in any of the private equity firms is more or less the same as mentioned above for the top 12 private equity firms.

For reference, below is the list of the top 30 private equity firms in the world including New York, San Francisco (Source:

The list will give you an idea of the huge job opportunity that lies in this business sector as it is still evolving and growing.

List of Real Estate Private Equity Firms in the US
List of Real Estate Private Equity Firms in the US

Some more tips…

I have compiled some additional guidelines and tips that will surge your opportunity of getting an interview call from a Private Equity firm.

The fact is that it is very rare that individuals are taken in as Associates immediately after graduation.

This is mainly because most equity firms are small and do not have the manpower or bandwidth to train newbies within the firm.

Now you must understand that most students who graduate from Ivy colleges and reputed universities are always seeking an internship or training program opportunity with big and established equity firms like the Blackstone’s or Goldman Sachs.

As the smaller private equity firms are always in need of people to work, they are willing to adjust their requirements to fulfill these vacancies.

This presents a golden opportunity to those candidates who have the required degree but not from the A schools.

Here you have a chance to work at the grass-root level and understand the business, build contacts, and most importantly gain the required work experience.

It is a definite plus if you have knowledge of 2-3 European languages, for example, English plus German, French, Italian, Spanish, or Dutch.

This will help you overcome some amount of competition from undergraduates of reputed institutes/universities.

Finally, the last piece of information you must know is that most PE firms prefer to hire people within the age bracket of 30 for an entry-level position.

It is crucial that all aspiring candidates consider all factors i.e. educational, work experience, and age limit required for this profession before making any radical changes in their existing career or job.

I would like to conclude this article by emphasizing the fact that accumulating at least 2 years of work experience in either investment banking, corporate development, or restructuring will undoubtedly help, as for experienced candidates their business knowledge with past achievements will precede their educational degrees.

I wish all aspiring candidates the very best and hope that this article has been insightful and helpful.

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