My Summer at Bain Capital

I was very lucky during business school. I was hired as a summer associate at Bain Capital on the investment side. They didn’t have an official program but made an exception.

At the end of the summer, I received an offer to join full time. I turned it down. They were shocked.

Back then, Bain Capital was only about 20 people and it had a small $300MM buy-out fund. Today, the firm numbers hundreds of people and they have since expanded into other classes, such as a hedge fund, mezzanine, VC and distressed debt. They manage about $60 billion of assets.

So, there was a lot of “upward mobility” for my generation at the firm, and they told me so (see “How VCs Are Paid” regarding why assets under management are linked to partners’ compensation).

Back then, Mitt Romney was running the firm. Back then, I was newly married that summer. And, there’s the rub.

I was a person whom they were recruiting, but I worked until 11 pm on Monday to Saturday, no exceptions. I didn’t work on Sundays because I had told them it was reserved for family and Church.

I learned a lot. Most important, I learned that I didn’t enjoy the day-to-day contents of a buy-out job. I am much more of a growth and start-up person.

I also learned that it was going to be impossible to see my wife much. I worried about how the job was going to affect my marriage. I’m a pretty driven person, and work can be all-consuming for me. My wife stayed up until 11 pm that summer in order to say hello to me. It didn’t feel sustainable.

So, I turned down the gig.

Today, I’m still grateful to the Bain Capital folks for giving me a rare and very valuable summer experience. And, I’m grateful that I chose a different path, one for which I was a better fit.

2 thoughts on “My Summer at Bain Capital

  1. Saying “no” to things is harder than saying yes — how true — just like it’s hard to have a plan to sell something, like a stock. It’s more exciting to buy, and say “yes”. A former manager of mine said, “Make a list of things you’re NOT going to do for that day, and then — don’t do them.” The list part is a bit excessive, but knowing what not to do (and how not to spend your time) is almost as important as the other side of the coin. I turned down a job offer at Lehman Brothers after business school. Both of my roommates took jobs at the sales and trading desk. I had gone for the “day on the job” experience and hit it off decently well. But I wanted to be a general manager of a real business. So I went out there to look… and look… and look. What I found changed my life. I went to General Electric. Ten years later, after learning about how to manage, build customer relationships and grow sales (plus balance work/wife), I’ve hit the entrepreneurship road. I’ll be in your office in 2 weeks for a meeting with Eric. Can you make it?

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