Career Anxiety and questions on Corp Dev

I have a pretty solid gig doing M&A Corp Dev this summer at a F1000 company in NYC. I'm pretty excited for it but as a rising college senior I'm having a bit of career anxiety. I struck out on the Street recruiting for a SA21 position and then landed this. I come from a Wall Street family and have always had really high expectations for myself. I also have a bunch of highly-driven friends (like myself) who landed IB SA positions, which, as immature as it sounds, makes me feel kind of bad for myself. I guess I'm just curious about how Corp Dev is as a long-term gig, as far as comp, work-life, exit ops, etc. goes. Is it a six-figure-out-of-undergrad type of career? A dead-end career? Crazy hours, or decent work-life? If anyone, in Corp Dev or not, could give some insight or advice that'd be huge.

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Comments (5)

May 15, 2021 - 1:26pm

I think Corp Dev/M&A is probably the most exciting area within Corporate Finance (IMO). Comp is usually higher for Corp Dev than any other area of Corporate Finance because the hours are normally longer than say, FP&A. That being said, I don't think it's 6-figures right out of the gate but I'm not in NYC so not familiar with salaries there. Long-term I think it's a gig that keeps you logging on in the morning. I think you could parlay Corp Dev experience into Strategy Finance, Corp Strategy, FP&A, maybe even Corporate VC. Internal exit opps will depend heavily on how much your employer emphasizes internal mobility. More money typically means more hours so keep that in mind. Your work-life balance will probably be much better in Corp Dev than IB. You can spend more time exercising, reading, dating, exploring your passions outside of work, etc. 

May 15, 2021 - 9:16pm

It's a strong career path but as a job out of college, YMMV a lot. Really gotta do your diligence to make sure you're in an acquisitive company, somewhat blue chip name, or in a team where there's upward mobility potential and room for you get promoted (often times there's not given the small size of these teams). Otherwise, in terms of career progression you can easily  get stuck and look a lot more like a typical Corp Fin role with a slight boost to salary, which is a comfortable life but your trajectory will be much slower and optionality much less than peers who've had the credibility / branding of IB on their CV. Of course YMMV, all depends on who your bosses are / whether they vouch for you internally and externally.

You'll definitely be doing far more interesting work than what a typical IB Analyst does though and deal with far less BS, that is another advantage I can think of.

May 19, 2021 - 7:43pm

this is pretty on the dot. if buying businesses - either for P&L or product - is important and the company has the financial wherewithal to do it, great. it'll be fast paced, you get to do deals, and comp is likely good (especially if you get stock). if M&A is less important, then you'll find yourself working on a lot of random internal strategy / finance stuff, or chilling (not necessarily a bad thing).

in some ways though, the trade off between IB client bullshit is you get to deal with internal politics and different objectives by different stakeholders. and getting pulled into other random projects, because you get seen as a bit of a SWAT team / braintrust.

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