To get an edge against your classmates and others that are competing for the private equity career opportunities, you should seek a private equity internship prior to graduation. There are academic year internship opportunities for undergraduates and graduate candidates that are located in urban areas of the country. In other words, if you are able to get a private equity internship during the school year, you will be able to add that experience to your resume, which will help you stand out from the pile of private equity candidate resumes.
The process of getting a private equity internship is not a formal process such as in the investment banking and consulting industry. You will have to put in a tremendous amount of effort by searching online, speaking to alumni, and networking at school and employment events. Writing a simple email with your resume attached to an extensive list of private equity firms will most likely land you a few interviews. When I was looking for private equity opportunities, I would go through headhunters and proactively reach out to firms on my own. If I came across a healthcare private equity firm that I was interested in, for example, I would send an email to a senior member of the investment team (such as a VP or Managing Director) and attach my resume.
Since most private equity firms do not hire interns, do not feel discouraged if you do not hear back from a majority of firms. Even if the internship is unpaid, the experience is priceless when applying for full-time positions in private equity as well as investment banking and private equity.
Here is an example of an email that you may send to a private equity candidate for an internship opportunity:
Dear [Enter Name],
I would like to express my interest in an internship opportunity at [Private Equity Firm Name] during the academic year or as a summer analyst. Currently, I am completing my third year of the undergraduate finance program at [University Name]. With the skill sets I am developing, I am looking to hit the ground running and learn more about the private equity industry. I have attached my resume for your review and look forward to hearing from you.
If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact me via email or by phone.