Consulting @ IT Consulting Firm vs. Internal Consulting @ Tech F25 vs. Biz Dev @ VC-Backed Tech Startup

Currently have 3 offers at the table and really want some insight as to what to do. Ultimate goal is work at a VC fund and/or go to a top b-school.

1) Business Systems Consulting at a mid-sized IT consulting firm
2) Internal Consulting at a Fortune 25 Technology Company (Think Microsoft/IBM not Apple/Google)
3) Business Development at a VC-Backed Tech Startup (Not seed/series A stage, backed by top VC funds)

First two offers are in NYC, last one is in SF. One major difference is salary, first two are 70k+, the startup is offering 45k + marginal equity.

Comments (18)

Best Response
saconsult3, what's your opinion? Comment below:

As always, it will come down to your goals. Do you have a field you'd like to be working in in five years? If consulting is your goal, or if you'd like something with better technical exposure, I would go with one of the first two options. Of those, I would accept the internal consulting role (depending on the focus). My rationale there is after leaving IBM (I'm assuming it's IBM since it's based out of NYC), you'd be qualified to work at a large tech consulting firm or a mid-sized firm like the one you're considering.

If you're interested in starting your own company, working for an established start up is a great way to break into that network and learn a lot. But naturally it's a bigger risk.

Basic story is, you've got great options ahead of you, I'm sure you'll crush it either way. Just my two cents.

TheSanchize, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Are you passionate about what this startup is trying to solve? If yes, I would say go for the startup. If we are talking a firm backed by Sequioa and the like, the chances are relatively low that it will completely fail/go bankrupt and you will likely get a better experience. There is not going to be a time in your life where you will be better positioned to take a low pay to work at a startup than right now. Yes, you may not get to eat out three nights a week, but if you work your ass off anyways and spend the majority of your time in the office you will get through the first year anyways.

Furthermore, VC is changing rapidly these days and actual startup experience is basically essential a lot of places. I would choose that.

idontwearglasses, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for the advice guys - As I mentioned, I want to work at a VC fund 5 years from now. However, I am not super passionate about what the startup is trying to solve.

If I could get a few more opinions it would be great - I'm just really concerned about the small salary in SF (Palo Alto specifically), a really expensive place to live and my exit opps. It feels like with the first two, I've got a lot of solid paths to go through, whereas the 3rd one I feel like im sort of pigeonholed into a lot of random low-paying jobs for a while. It seems like a really fun place to work, and I would enjoy SF, but I could definitely use more insight.

idontwearglasses, what's your opinion? Comment below:

One thing I really don't want to do is work as an IT consultant. I want to do strategy for a technology company, but definitely not IT consulting. I guess it boils down to, is it worth such a large financial hit for up to 2 years?

another_consultant, what's your opinion? Comment below:

70k vs. 45k feels like a big difference percentage-wise, but in the long-run, it's nothing. How many employees are working in the start-up currently? If it's still small, and if it's indeed already backed up by top VC funds as you say, I think you really have to go to the start-up. Think about the potential to take on additional responsibilities and ramp up your knowledge / experience within the environment... if you think this is likely to happen (or doable) then I think this trumps the other two options.

idontwearglasses, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It is not that early stage - It has about 100 employees - I would really appreciate learning more about what additional responsibilities/knowledge/experience I could gain there vs a F25 company and why this makes the 25k dip worth it.

Thanks for taking the time to respond too.

sadface, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Do the startup. Yes, 45k is not a lot and hopefully you'll be able to negotiate more as you go (or just move companies), but you're really young and Silicon Valley/SF is way better than NYC for tech. It dominates the professional scene much more than in NYC, so essentially everyone you meet will be a potential networking opportunity. Plus, as a recent transplant to the east coast, you really can't put a price on the good weather.

At 100 people the company is not going away anytime soon so there's little risk and you'll have ample opportunities to demonstrate excellence and grow your career, potentially much faster than if you were at a larger firm with more structured policies.

The lack of a brand may be an issue depending on your goals later on though. I did strong engineering UG -> 2 SV startups ( top 15 MBA and I didn't do well on traditional consulting recruiting for a summer internship, with some feedback around the overall lack of branding on my resume.

One thing I will say is that people feel way less prestige-whorish in SV. Your company matters a lot less out there than on the east coast, largely because so many people are working at smaller firms and beyond Apple/Google/FB there really isn't much stratification. It's more about what you do and if you're good at it.

BigWave, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Take the F25 offer. Pay is better, and the brand name/ business school prospects are worth a lot more than the "Startup experience" in SF. I recently made a similar decision based off of the advice of a close mentor (C-level Exec of a recently acquired startup). He told me to get the brand name for two years and then go do other things. However, I suppose it's worth mentioning that I'm from a non-target, so maybe the brand name matters more in my situation.

"No one ever wishes they had slept more in college."
idontwearglasses, what's your opinion? Comment below:

As I mentioned before, my goal is not to become a c-level executive at a startup, but rather join the VC world. Additionally, if this helps, I am from a semi target (Top 25 USNWR). The last two people basically had conflicting opinions, so it would be great to get some further insight.

Rejected Monkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

regardless of your future career goals (joining vc), you should think about what job can set you up the best for future financial/ career stability.

and, i think #2 is the best opp.

i know quite a few people who joined start ups out of my college. many of them joined start-ups since they didn't have the credentials (gpa, work experience, poor networking skills, etc) to crack entry into finance / consulting / F500 type of jobs.. and settled for anything they could find to pay bills, which happened to be start-ups many of the times.

many of these guys have told me there is no job security at a start up. a small company may not have much reserve cash to go around, and when things get slow, non-engineers (or the people who are not absolutely crucial to the operation of the company) are the first to be shown the door.

also - these guys have mentioned that the work experience you'd get at a start-up can be hit or miss. being an entry level hire, these firms may entitle you to do a bunch of random bull shit admin work, since you don't have much differentiated skill-set to contribute to the team, in a core/ defined functional area.

going with a brand - name firm will provide you more traction with head hunters, b-school placement, and when you're applying for any other jobs down the road. it just gives you more 'credibility' in front of future employers.

getting a corp Strategy gig, with no Mgmt consulting experience, coming out of college is really, really hard. If the offer you got indeed is a corp strategy position (not a crap position like sales, etc), you should definitely go with option #2.

lastly - the pay difference of 25k-30k at entry level, contrary to what some here are saying, is massive. i know many people 6-7 years out of college who would gladly jump to another gig if they can get a 30k/yr pay raise from their current gig.

sadface, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I missed that your long term goal was getting into VC, but in that case you should DEFINITELY go to the SV startup. "Getting into VC" is pretty much impossible, but if you want to be a real member (not just a 2 year analyst), having extensive tech/startup experience is absolutely essential. In fact, you should plan to cofound a startup in the years prior to entering the field.

VC firms look for partners who can understand and relate to founder teams, and nobody does that better than former startup founders. Look at bios of people showcased on the websites of big VC firms (Sequoia, Caanan, Andressen-Horowitz). Almost to a member they are former startup CXO's, and if not they've at least been extensively involved in startups prior to joining their VC firms. I know of a few people at a16z that were at F50 tech firms, but they were in Product Management not corporate strategy.

fourwes, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If you believe in the startup and are excited about it, do it. It's a risk but this is the time to take risks. Your other option is to do a stint at the F25 then transition to a superior role at a startup after 1-2 years. This way you get the stamp on your resume and more say in what your startup experience will be. From there you can look to VC options, b school, etc. I'd recommend starting with the F25 because I'm more risk averse. If your aspirations move away from VC you may be unhappy with your options after a year or 2 at the startup. You should also be aware that VC is extremely hard to break into (in a meaningful way), with or without the startup job which could be dime a dozen.

dew2229, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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