RE Career Advice Needed

Hey everyone,

I am looking to get some info on the differences between development versus acquisitions associate roles. I attended a state school for UG, and I matriculate at a non-M7 MBA this fall, with an interest for real estate in Texas. I have 5 years of work experience, 3 of these years were in RE. I would like to use my MBA to pivot into the finance side. I have narrowed down my post-MBA roles to either development or acquisitions roles; however, I am struggling to figure out which path would be more suitable, both from an enjoyment/interest standpoint and a compensation standpoint. 

I know a few people at Trammel Crow, CBRE, and Tranwestern, but not well enough to get into the weeds of compensation. I am aware of top firms, such as Hines, Brookfield, and Starwood, but I am unsure of the types of roles I should target. Would anyone be able to shed some light on the differences in comp for dev associate versus acquisitions associate, as well as the difference in these two roles? Should I expect comp to be around $100K + 10-20% bonus for firms such as CBRE and Transwestern?

Somewhat new to the space still, so career direction and comp is a bit of a black box to me. Open to any advice.

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Comments (2)

Most Helpful
May 8, 2022 - 11:56pm
redever, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Hey everyone,

I have 5 years of work experience, 3 of these years were in RE. I would like to use my MBA to pivot into the finance side.

Can you like explain what you were doing in RE? Seems like an important detail in this discussion (and the other 2 years out of curiosity)... 

That said.... figuring out what you like (seems like you are committed to the CRE world), is something you have some time to do given that you are about to start an MBA program. I'd try do a few internships (like one in development and one in investment management, esp. if you can work during fall/spring term), and definitely network and "informational interview" a ton. Join all the big groups like NAIOP, ULI, and ICSC (student membership cheap...), and actually go to the meetings, volunteer on committees, even go for leadership roles (this is super easy).

Working on the development/owner-operator side can be very different from working on the investment management (debt and/or equity) side (is what you mean by "pivot into the finance side"?). I think what you are somewhat asking about is being in like direct ownership type roles/firms vs. indirect investment mngt type roles/firms (this is sometimes called "GP vs LP" on WSO, but that is actually a horrid way to describe it IMHO). The latter is far more "finance". 

There is also the "sell-side" world of brokerage, investment banking, and some forms of "lending" (this can be buy-side or sell-side depending, its complicated). You do mention some sell-side firms (CBRE/Transwestern) so I guess you are consider those roles also. This is also quite different from "buyside" world. 

You can find TONS of threads on all these topics, but really, best to meet real people, intern, go to events, etc. You will figure the industry out and hopefully you gain a better idea of what is out there.

I won't touch the comp question..... that is very all over the place. In any and all of these fields, top people make 7 figures, so it's like literally the most unimportant thing. The key is figuring out what roles/industry you can most likely come out on "top". Like some will make great brokers and shitty investment managers, and then some are the exact opposite. I'd worry tons more about figuring out what you like and want to do long-term, the earnings will come if you get that right. 

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May 12, 2022 - 12:00pm

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