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That is awesome that you have been able to do that. I'm not really bitter, more or less just pragmatic and know what the real deal is. The "game" starts in high school for the majority of the undergrads you'll meet at the top 25-50 college programs around. I find it to be sort of the myth that's postualted out there that says if you work hard in school, do the right activities, volunteer, get great SATs etc that you'll have the same equal chance as anyone else to get into a top school. I haven't done any real research so my viewpoint could be completely full of crap/biased due to my experience but I can say that having worked in IB, these vps on up to managing directors are sending their kids to private kindergarten schools, and it's just not them, just consider in Manhattan/CT/NJ how many lawyers, docs, consultants, etc and then all of the entreprenuers/priv business owners in these types of areas and a lot of them are putting their kids on the same path. The back up school for some of my coworkers was Cornell which is an ivy league school. Hard work does matter but like Buffett has said in the past, luck in being born to the right parents/situation makes a huge difference as well.

For a lot of these 5 year olds in CT/NJ/NY and then through out all of the other affluent parts of the country, you can essentially insure that your kid will be well positioned to take a great job out of college. Sure the kid can completely screw up but putting him/her into a private high school or even the public high schools in affluent areas gives them an immediate advantage because the school may be "ranked" better or be better in terms of teaching so that they finish in the top 50% of their class, worst case they go to some top 30 undergrad instead of a top 10-15. I can't even begin to guess at a number to quantify the advantage a 17 y/o from some high school in this area has over some 17 y/o from some random, middle class high school in the middle of the US has but I'd bet its real. And then as long as they don't screw up there and can do a little studying for the actual interview process they'll be fine. If you're not at a top 10-15 school you're already waaaay back inthe chances of getting a job as an ib analyst or paralegal for a top law firm (thats the same program asthe 2 year analyst stint at an Ib) or a top consulting firm.

BSChool is sort of like a second chance for some people that were smart but took jobs that didn't pay anything and then went to bschool to redo their careers. It's probably a better market now, i came out in 2003 which was a bad job market for just about everything, it could be much easier now.

If I were you and wanting to go into PE you need to figure out whether its a megafund or middle market as there are differences. Financing megadeals are much easier than smaller because the smaller deals utilize more bank debt. You could go to HBS but landing a PE job for you will be near impossible out of bschool, obviously go for it, but just want to frame the difficulty. Even for well seasoned bankers, getting hired into an LBO firm is very difficult just because the staffs are so lean and they aren' really into "training" new hires the same way big ibs are. Many of the LBO firms in the middle market ($750mm-$2bn size, at least in 2005, most of those guys raised 2x that for their new funds and these are mid market guys!) pick up analysts from ibs or consulting firms and have them work for a few years, so this is 2 years of ib work and then 2-3 years of analyst work at a PE firm. If they think the guy/girl is good to bring into the firm as a real employee (meaning you get to invest in deals yourself, get carry, etc) then they'll pay for your bschool and have you come back and as long as you don't screw up you're on track to be a partner.

You prob have a better shot at landing at a hedge fund instead of a PE fund. LBO firms are haughty and they are stuck up. Just look at the bios of even the middle market firms, its Harvard undergrad/harvard mba and like schools (stanford, etc) and they do hire based on that pedigree so they care about where you grew up, went to school. It's pathetic. Hedge funds are more diverse and more scrappy, it's guys that might have gone to great schools or didn't but they just don't play by that system of pedigree, old boys club.

If you still want to do the PE route then you should get into banking and try to get into leveraged finance or M&A (i'm biased towards lev fi). Do a few years there and you'll be more likely to land a PE job.
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