Transition from REPE to Corp Dev?

Hey all. I went to school in Michigan and started my career out of undergrad at BB in CRE and am now an analyst at a REPE fund (not MF, it’s a family office) where we do deals across the risk spectrum as GP’s, preferred equity partners, etc. However, I’m realizing I don’t want to stay in CRE long term and the hours are getting to me (I work 70+ hrs avg per week and weekends currently). I know CRE is kind of a niche sector of finance, but I’d like to transition to Corporate Development in the media/tech space and am wondering how to best do it without going back to banking. Would switching to some sort of M&A role elsewhere first be the best way? I have extensive modeling experience, but only in CRE (I’m planning to teach myself corporate LBO’s, DCF’s, since I have my series 79 license). I’m currently 23 and am worried if I don’t get out of CRE now, my window will close later on. Any advice appreciated - thanks!

Most Helpful

I consider myself more of an optimist vs. the average user on this forum. I wanted to provide that context before saying that in the past what you are trying to achieve was much more doable. Right now, companies are being extra selective about who they interview because they can be. It’s every company not just big tech. There is a white collar recession in most industries.

Some actionable advice would be lateral to a proptech or any real estate company to do corp dev. Even this is an uphill battle unfortunately because you don’t have entity level M&A experience. However, it’s much more achievable than trying for TMT corp dev. The good thing is that if you do get a corp dev role, you’ll have a decent exposure to technology in your space that you can use to craft a narrative to work at a proper technology company.

With regards to an MBA, it’s not the worst option, so I wouldn’t write it off. The opportunity cost can be made up and you could go to a top 20 school that offers decent financial aid if you have the profile for it. I know a guy who turned down Harvard for a top 15 because he wanted to avoid 7% interest rate debt


I think the first half of your advice is spot on - its a tough job market and for the few Corp Dev roles available, they want someone with either 2+ years of Corp Dev / IBD experience, and for the most part, the roles are being filled with these types of candidates. As an optimist as well, the path OP described is achievable, but a transition straight into corp dev right now is quite unlikely. Getting into IBD now would make the pivot easier within a year or two, but most big banks have ongoing hiring freezes.

While an MBA might seem like a logical decision, I disagree here. I don't think Corp Dev values an MBA at the junior level much, and I know the two companies Ive done Corp Dev at wouldn't either. Factor in the opportunity cost of an MBA and the fact that its a gamble to even leverage the MBA into a Corp Dev role and there is no way its worth the risk.

Why not just do 1 year of IBD and then interview with the confidence of knowing you are a sought after candidate? One year of IBD should position you well enough to get looks at smaller Corp Dev teams and then once you are in the industry, lateraling to a more ideal shop of your choice should be very manageable. I speak from experience because this is almost the exact route I took. 

Breaking into Corp Dev with no IBD experience is tougher than most on this site realize. Heck, its even fairly difficult with IBD experience, just given how few positions exist out there. 

Best of luck OP, let me know if I can be of additional help

Edit: One other reason I disagree on the MBA front - no one with no Corp Dev experience is going to start as a Corp Dev Manager or above straight out of an MBA. If you have IBD or even consulting experience, sure, it would be possible depending on YOE to begin as a Manager / Director. The reality is you would be doing an MBA for a job that is not going to pay a post-MBA salary. Imagine incurring 200k in debt and forgoing a salary for 2 years to take an Analyst or at best Associate role that pays 150k Base with a 10-15% bonus. You just cant logically make the math work...


Not sure if breaking into IB is any easier than corp dev, especially with how banks are doing right now.


Thanks, I appreciate your thoughts. Can I ask? I’m already burnt out from BB and now PE gigs…I think I just need a hybrid schedule bc right now I’m fully in-person. But honestly, I think I’m just more interested in tech finance / in-house M&A rather than real estate. I’m only hopeful due to a close friend entering corp dev straight out of undergrad. I hope my REPE knowledge can come into use at some point though


Thank you for your response! Did you find the PT MBA route just as beneficial as the full time MBA route in terms of recruiting? I’ve been considering the PT route as I’d have to work to pay off tuition/living expenses, etc.


Eos cupiditate dolor sint ullam tempore. Officiis nesciunt aut nostrum at velit velit et.

Career Advancement Opportunities

November 2023 Investment Banking

  • Lincoln International 01 99.6%
  • Lazard Freres (++) 99.1%
  • Jefferies & Company 02 98.7%
  • William Blair 12 98.3%
  • Financial Technology Partners 02 97.8%

Overall Employee Satisfaction

November 2023 Investment Banking

  • William Blair 04 99.6%
  • Lincoln International 10 99.1%
  • Moelis & Company 25 98.7%
  • Stephens Inc 11 98.3%
  • Jefferies & Company 08 97.8%

Professional Growth Opportunities

November 2023 Investment Banking

  • Lincoln International 01 99.6%
  • Lazard Freres 17 99.1%
  • Jefferies & Company 02 98.7%
  • Financial Technology Partners 06 98.3%
  • UBS AG 16 97.8%

Total Avg Compensation

November 2023 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (6) $592
  • Vice President (34) $390
  • Associates (167) $258
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (15) $187
  • 2nd Year Analyst (106) $168
  • Intern/Summer Associate (48) $167
  • 1st Year Analyst (322) $166
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (234) $95
16 IB Interviews Notes

“... there’s no excuse to not take advantage of the resources out there available to you. Best value for your $ are the...”


From 10 rejections to 1 dream investment banking internship

“... I believe it was the single biggest reason why I ended up with an offer...”