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A Day in the Life: The Entry-Level Private Equity Employee

Eric, 26, is an associate at a midsized private equity firm in Manhattan

6:30 a.m.: I'm already up and dressed and heading out the door to catch a cab. I'm lucky enough to be making enough already to afford a cab to work every day after three years, and I only have to walk a half-block to find one.

7:15 a.m.: In the door at work, a cup of Starbucks in hand. I've responded to the most urgent e-mails on the BlackBerry on the ride down, so at this point, I'm taking on the less urgent or more complicated things that have to be done before the principal gets in at 8. Some of these are research items that I'll have to get to later, others can be answered pretty easily.

8:15 a.m.: Meet briefly with my principal to see where the day will take us. In general, we're working on two or three different things at once. Right now, we're in the middle of negotiations with one company, looking at distressed debt at another and in preliminary research on a third. I'm given some research to do and some calls to make for the day.

9:00 a.m.: A quick chat with my opposite at the investment bank that's advising on one of our deals. We handle the grunt stuff so the managing directors and such can do their thing. In this case, we're trying to get details on possible debt structures to do after the deal, to see what both sides can stomach.

10:00 a.m.: I spend the next couple of hours digging up some distressed debt historicals and putting together a profile of our distressed debt idea. I'm starting to wonder whether it's going to be worth it.

12:00 p.m.: Lunch. Au Bon Pain today. I take it back to my desk and keep going.

1:00 p.m.: The investment bank calls back, and it looks like we may have some movement on structuring future debt at the company that's furthest along in negotiations. I give my principal the heads up and we set up a call between their investment bank, our investment bank, us and the company. We manage to do it for 5--pretty fast.

2:00 p.m.: Prep for the conference call. We gather all the material we have, call and e-mail back and forth, and get a basic agenda ginned up for everyone to see. I give my principal a "to-do" list of things left outstanding. I also order up some dinner for everyone in our office who will be on the call.

5:00 p.m.: We start the call and start hashing out the debt structures. If I have ideas, I pass notes to my principal.

6:00 p.m.: Dinner arrives. We keep going on the call as we eat.

7:20 p.m.: The call wraps up. There's a preliminary agreement, but both sides have to go back and run it up the flagpole. I head back to my desk to enter my new tasks into my Outlook before I head home. That'll include the flagpole document--I bullet out what should go in there and give it to my principal before I head home.

8:00 p.m.: Cab back home. I may work a little after dinner, or not. This was a long day--usually I'm out by 6.