Everyday I wish I did Tech instead

Hi monkey's, did two years at a BB in IB and I knew it would be shitty but I figured once I'm in PE it'll be better. Now having been at an UMM PE shop for the past 5-ish months at one of the better WLB places I have noticed that this isn't the case. Even when I look up to seniors, it's still not as cush as people make it out to be.

This realization has made me go not a single day wishing I hadn't done tech instead, it has left me incredibly depressed. 

I don't want to go into a lower tier role that doesn't pay as well so Corp Dev, Corp Fin etc... is not a viable solution, I'm looking to exit Finance all together. How can I make the switch to SWE? 

 

News flash. Competitive well paying jobs are “move up or out”.  And there is never truly separation from the job. You live in a fantasy world where you can “love” your job, make a lot, and be able to check out and disconnect.  People want these jobs more than you that’s why you won’t last with that attitude.  60-70 hours a week is totally doable while having fun and a social life.  Come back and talk to me if you have kids.  Get real man,

 

Bump for product marketing. I work PM for one of the B2B/B2C electronics giants. Strategy oriented, GREAT wlb, ok comp at higher levels, and very little genuine talent to compete with (at least in my division).

I'm a low-level grunt with a shitty manager in a flailing product segment, so my hours blow, but almost everyone else works 40-50 hours max and has at least one week per month at 35 or fewer.

 
Controversial

Just a thought; it may seem better now but the progression in tech plateaus out VERY quickly. And beyond a point seems as though there is a ceiling to upward mobility unless you are one of the exceptional ones. Would say the floor is lower in finance but the ceiling is definitely higher. I had a similar dilemma and that’s why I decided to choose finance.
On a similar note, tech is so volatile and I definitely feel way safer in my seat now. Know friends who got laid off from SWE months into starting (and in one case even before starting).

 

Would add that finance generally has a better promotional structure since Tech roles are often at large F500 companies that just don’t operate the same way IB/PE does (analyst->associate->VP etc…)

No right answer obviously with tech vs finance but just something else I think worth considering

 

I honestly kind of disagree. 1st year at MF and some of my FAANG friends are making similar comp, with path to promotion. Seems like if you can climb to like L8 at Google that’s 1M+ comp including RSUs (which is effectively cash or more than cash at FAANG). Can’t imagine difficulty of climbing the ladder in tech is that much harder than IB/PE where only top performers are promoted every 4 years.

 

Lol’d at L8 at Google being the example. Godspeed but that’s the equivalent of “if you make it to partner…” L8 probably going to take 15 years and there are very few seats like that and very few googles. I have a friend that’s a L5 and we’ve had this convo a few times.

He’s very happy generally and has a great gig but the comp progression between us is material despite both being at larger players in our respective spaces.

 

L8 at FAANG is more difficult to achieve than a partner in a BB (that have annual promotions to partners).

Besides that, if you're talking about an IC L8 (and not an M track): one has to have their brain wired in a certain way to enjoy solving technical problems for decades. I'd argue that more people can learn how to sell (partner's job) rather than how to be a slightly autistic genius

P.S. Intered at BB; did buyside; currently an MLE at FAANG

 

That's what i thought too but after talking to some of my friends in tech / mid level engineers, I don't think this is really true.

If you're good in tech you can easily make upper six figs in your mid-to-late twenties. 

Yes, you could argue that a PE partner makes more than a senior engineer but I would say it's less relevant when most people flame out of PE way before that point (due to WLB, stress, life crisis, being pushed out for not being good enough), so it's a bit of a moot point. If you really wanted to compare you would compare successful PE partners to successful startup founders (like the same difficulty within finance vs tech), in which case startup founds go head to head with PE partners on wealth accumulation. 

Overall, your career is a marathon not a sprint. It's much more sustainable to have a long career in tech than in high finance and therefore I feel that the risk-adjusted returns in tech is higher than finance. I personally regret choosing the IB -> PE route vs tech... but to each their own

 

>If you're good in tech you can easily make upper six figs in your mid-to-late twenties

Which firms exactly? Upper six figures seems to take about 10 to 20 years at Google. The only way you'd get that in your mid twenties is be lucky with RSUs, or be extremely good at a niche firm.

 

Grass is always greener on the other side …

Believe me ppl who make serious money are also overworked

All good paying big tech is run by hardos … atleast in UMM PE you get to sit on the board someday

 

> My hours are too much and I don't have WLB

> CorpDev/Fi is not an option, I don't want to make less money

Have your cake and eat it too? You're in the best paying field of Finance out there. I'm a little surprised that you have earned your keep through years of hard work but still feel a level of entitlement to a lot of money for as little work as possible. 

Also, at least from what I know of my SWE @ FAANG friends, the whole "making a shit ton of money and working 2 hours a week" thing is mostly a joke. You could get lucky with a group that actually does have a very small workload, but the vast majority of those people are working fairly similarly to banking hours (50-70). 

It's almost as if... higher paying jobs require more hours and workload...

 

I’m a software engineer, I pivoted my career a few years back but still like this forum and come back every now and then.

So you can get into tech, there’s lots of finance roles at many companies like you’d expect elsewhere. There’s also adjacent roles that probably would like a finance background, like others have mentioned (Product Management being a really compelling role). The meme of working 4 hour days is dead. It did happen in some firms, but it’s basically gone now. I’m seeing an increasing competition among schooling prestige mattering (to some degree) and relevant experience being looked at more harshly. It’s just becoming more competitive and the general idea is to do more with less, especially since companies can post record profits and still do layoffs. Not getting into “right vs wrong” of that, but it’s just a trend that seems persistent.

Many top earners work a lot, in excess of 60 hour weeks of lots of focus. Intensity paired with hours feels a lot worse than just raw hours with downtime. There’s an expectation to perform largely consistently every single day, stand ups can be stressful (it’s basically a daily meeting where you speak to what you did yesterday and what you’ll accomplish today). Weekend work might be less regular but not unheard of too.

The “tech compensation ceiling” thing is a myth too. If you work your way up to Staff Engineer/ VP of Engineering/ VP of Product at top companies you’ll make a ton of money. These jobs are far and few between, much like moving up the ranks of top PE firms/ IBs. There seems to be a wider distribution of companies within tech, so you’ll see a wider range of compensation.

Most no name companies pay okay. I’ve worked at these, I’ve made $210k a year there as a Senior Engineer. I worked a lot. Some no name companies print cash and you can clear $500k, work hours will be volatile (some weeks long, some weeks chilling out). Top companies pay a more standardized range, levels.fyi is accurate for the most part.

Product and Engineering pay seems roughly the same.

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
 

So you did finance and then pivoted to SWE?
Was that before or after graduating?

 
The “tech compensation ceiling” thing is a myth too. If you work your way up to Staff Engineer/ VP of Engineering/ VP of Product at top companies you’ll make a ton of money. These jobs are far and few between, much like moving up the ranks of top PE firms/ IBs. There seems to be a wider distribution of companies within tech, so you’ll see a wider range of compensation.

lol yes if you get promoted to a VP of engineering role at Google you can do very well. This isn't a trivial task and by no means guaranteed.

 

Agreed. My point was to showcase that it’s not true that tech caps out at $500k. It isn’t easy nor even probable, but it is possible. Same goes for making MD- not easy nor probable, but possible. 

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
 

If this is a legit desire, I think tech remains one of the most accessible fields…. if you have the skills, you will get hired. If you build up relevant experience, you will have lateral opportunities. Start learning python or C++, fundamentals of programming, then data structures, then algorithms, maybe some probability and statistics. Crush some leetcode. Do a bootcamp or a degree if you have time or desire.
Not an expert at all but tech is one of the most accessible fields, all info to break in is online and all steps are straightforward.

If every day you regretted not being an NFL player or a Hollywood actor I’d tell you you’re shit outta luck. If every day you regret not going into tech there’s good news my brother you can still make it happen literally all you have to do is try.

 

Lol people be like I wanna switch to SWE, etc. but don’t wanna try coding in the first place.

Have you actually tried debugging a massive pile of code / leetcode? It is mind numbing and very repetitive task actually finding the error / writing out the whole code. If it floats your boat then good for you, but I tried for few weeks and I hated it.

 

I studied cs in college and most of my friends work in tech- if you're sure you want to do tech that bad then go do it man. The job market is a little tougher than what it used to be but there's 2 really easy ways I personally know people who did a 180 into tech that did 1) masters in CS 2) coding bootcamp. 

I often joke that I fucked up and should've gotten a job at a FAANG with friends because they really do have much better WLB but I also know myself that I'd likely be no happier in a much more slow-moving career path where the work is magnitudes smaller in scope. If those things don't matter to you in the first place and you just want to do the 9-5 grind then it's really not as hard as you think it is to pivot. 

 

What are the good UMM/higher MM shops in terms of WLB? I think those are the kind of spots I am realistically hoping to exit into being at a mid-tier BB FT next year.

 

I mean, you're not going to be the CEO of Google working 40 hours / week. Tech can be hard, if not, way harder than finance. You need a combination of all the skills required to be successful in business + oustanding technical acumen as well. 

 

Following, worked at a Faang as a Ds and now at a startup. You should definitely check out Ds analytics roles, they usually pay at a slight discount to SWE but at some companies they pay on par. On top of that, solid WLB, better visibility, and usually closer to the business side of things. Definitely a different skill set but probably closer to the one you have right now.

 

What kinds of skills did you need to get a DS role? What did the interview process look like?

 

I'm a sophomore right now and I'm seriously considering changing from Finance to CS + Math or just CS. I've always been really good at coding, as well as math, and I think my skills in both far surpass my people skills which are obviously big for Finance. I'm just hesitant because all the effort I've spent in the first 1.5 years of college, including leadership positions and clubs and what not is all geared towards finance.

 

Grass is always greener right?

Read a post a bit back about the "efficient career hypothesis" or something along those lines, where basically every high-paying career's various aspects (WLB, prestige, quality of work, salary) balanced out between the different professions. As someone trying to figure out where to go, it seems like every space has its own upsides/downsides.

 

Try tech sales or PM. These people are notorious for not doing anything but collecting big fat pay checks. Sounds like exactly what you are looking for. Your experience at ibanking and PE is valuable because it means you have good soft skills. Polish your resume and start applying. If you worked in TMT coverage group or tech investing, that’s even better, you can easily get a PM role

 

Try tech sales or PM. These people are notorious for not doing anything but collecting big fat pay checks. Sounds like exactly what you are looking for. Your experience at ibanking and PE is valuable because it means you have good soft skills. Polish your resume and start applying. If you worked in TMT coverage group or tech investing, that’s even better, you can easily get a PM role

 

Try tech sales or PM. These people are notorious for not doing anything but collecting big fat pay checks. Sounds like exactly what you are looking for. Your experience at ibanking and PE is valuable because it means you have good soft skills. Polish your resume and start applying. If you worked in TMT coverage group or tech investing, that’s even better, you can easily get a PM role

 

Having worked as a Product Manager for the last 7 years after 6 years in Consulting, I will say that I think people are in for a rude awakening if they expect that a PM will just sit on their ass all day. Definitely not Consulting hours, let alone Banking, but started out with 55-60 hour weeks (spiking higher to 70 at times) and over the last few years have brought it down to 40-50 (spiking to 60 at times), with pretty full days.

 

Try tech sales or PM. These people are notorious for not doing anything but collecting big fat pay checks. Sounds like exactly what you are looking for. Your experience at ibanking and PE is valuable because it means you have good soft skills. Polish your resume and start applying. If you worked in TMT coverage group or tech investing, that’s even better, you can easily get a PM role

 
Most Helpful

Just read through that entire debate about tech promotion. Let me add some facts about tech industry and why you should NOT join as SWE.

SWE promotion is highly political and luck-based. Here’s the thing: even in the same company and the same org, some engineers are working on high-profile stuff like ads algo that print several billions dollar per year or some fancy AI product that is literally God’s work, while other engineers are stuck on shitty projects like fixing pipelines, maintaining legacy shits, or working on a crap product that is bound to fail. It goes without saying that the former engineers are gonna get promoted like a rocket, the latter engineers are gonna be stuck at L5 for 20 years and making peanuts.

Now the issue is that SWEs don’t have the fucking control over which project they get, especially at early-career. The team matching process is a joke. It’s not like ibanking where all analysts get similar deal experiences and you also have league tables that allow you to compare teams. In tech there’s no such thing, everything is opaque, sometimes you don’t even know your product is failing until the day you get laid off. Take Amazon Alexa AI as an example, it was a natural language AI ( just like ChatGPT ) and there were tons of PHDs on the team and everything was looking rosy, until ChatGPT came out and Amazon found Alexa suck so badly compared to GPT and then entire team is getting axed 🪓, including the new grad SWEs on that team, they lose their jobs and their career is dead, and is it even their fault ? No they were just in bad luck and got matched with a shitty team.

So SWEs are betting their entire career on a single product but they don’t even get to choose which product they’re betting on. And even if they’re lucky enough to end up in a good product, they may still end up in a bad project. Someone gotta change the color of the UIs and shift the button to the left while their next-desk coworkers are building multi-tenant coordination over 500 nodes. And that UI-shifting engineer is saying good bye to career progression.

Imagine the amount of politics involved in assigning projects — The managers play favoritism. Indian managers give good projects to Indians. Chinese managers give good projects to Chines. People back-stab each other for the good projects. This kind of randomness, politics, and the feeling of not having your fate controlled in your hand but rather your fate is determined by the product manager, your engineering manager, the VC investor … but just not by you … is suffocating especially in an awful market environment where hiring is minimal so it’s impossible to even job-hop out of this shit.

The ceiling is real. A L8/ L9 making a bit over one million, 2 millions if you joined at the right time when stock is low ( again based on luck ). In other words, you gotta be top 1% and be blessed by the god for just one million dollar, which is less than the bonus of an average MD in an average bank …

In short, join tech SWE at your own risk. The god will not save you when you get laid off. And be prepared to say good bye to 3M+ annual comp and Hampton penthouse for your entire life.

I suffered the same mentality as OP. Every day I wished I had chosen quant. Quant research is way more fun, SWE is full of grunt labor and I loath it. But it’s so hard to break into quant research after having spent years in SWE. I have gotten depressed over this. Once someone is a SWE , he/she cannot get into other industry anymore, because this job is essentially a technical specialist and it closes up someone’s career options. You can’t be SWE and then go work at PE. But you can do it in reverse order.

About me: I worked at Amazon and I hated every part of it. Then I went to Google but Google offered a down-level and a lowball just like it always does. Google was chill but it was so slow. I was bored to death and I couldn’t afford mortgage in Bay with that meager Google lowball. Then I went to quant hedge fund and now I’m getting yelled at by quants and I’m burnt out. There’s just no perfect job in this world.

 

I totally agree with this and “grass is always greener on the other side” is real.
 

The thing is with SWE, barrier to entry is very very low. Anyone with some random degree + bootcamp can be a SWE. You cant do this in the finance industry. I am actually a software engineer now and trying to switch to a finance role and it’s awfully difficult - a bit of luck here but managed to secure a SA role with a BB for next year. But again in the end it depends on your personality and if you like the job. After working for a few years as SWE, I know I dont like the job (developing software products, fixing bugs, etc) and I cant imagine myself doing it until I retire. There’s whole lot of new tech out there coming out every now and then. GPT came up and practically a whole lot of relatively new NLP technologies just went obsolete. Imagine that in your 50s you still need to pick up new tech when compared with some fresh grads out of college. Your knowledge gets obsolete very fast. However, in Finance, the longer you stay, the more valuable your experience and knowledge will be. We are also working long hours in tech. I stay with 2 friends - 1 working in Google and another dude working in a bank (risk management position). Guess who work longer hours? (It’s us working in tech). 
 

I also think there’s no perfect job and so in the end, choose the job you think you hate least.

 

The above is spot-on. The only thing that I disagree with you: the low barrier of entry is actually a good thing, because it means you don’t have to work super hard in schools to prepare for recruiting. But the low barrier of entry is ending. This year, it’s impossible to get an interview with even a perfect resume from target school. Lots of MIT and CMU grads end up in consultancies. FYI consultancy is the IT outsourcing companies that everyone look down upon

Everything in tech has reversed. The good wlb has reversed. The easy entry has reversed. Tech is the most volatile industry I’ve seen. It almost feel like irrational and crazy. Working in tech industry is like walking on a minefield. You are having a good time till an invisible mine explodes and blow up your career. LLM was an invisible mine and it blowed up the careers of most old-school NLP-ers. Rising interest rate was an invisible mine and it blowed up the career of the entire 2023 new grads. Metaverse was also an invisible mine and it blowed up Reality Lab teams. Rumors are that RL is doing layoff again in the very near future.

Become techie if you truly like adventure and wouldn’t mind you career getting blown up in front of your face. 

 

There’s this website called The Odin Project. If you’re serious, do this - it’s a free bootcamp and covers everything you need, though you’ll need to be committed as it’ll be months before you go through it all.