Deciding between 2 Job offers in Development (seeking input)

Hi Monkeys! Years of educating myself, networking, endless motivation, and a lot of luck has led me to receive 2 job offers in real estate development after undergrad. One of the companies wants me to let them know this week, so I have a big decision to make. Ultimately will make the decision myself, but I am seeking input, as both positions have upsides and downsides and struggling to decide where to go.

JOB #1
This is a development analyst position for a multi-family developer in an East Coast gateway market (not NYC). I have interned for this company for the last 2 summers, I like them and they like me. This would be more of a financial analyst type role, while having some responsibility on the project management side (I imagine still pretty spreadsheet heavy). Company has 15 or so people on the development team. Develops multifamily towers (300+ units), affordable housing, and JV's with retail developers for infill mixed use projects. They only develop in one market because they know the city like the back of their hand and have strong relationships in the market. Company has been around for 50+ years and has a good reputation in the local market. I would start at low-mid 50's with no bonus. Pay increase of 10-15% per year is pretty much guaranteed, possibly more if I really kill it. Still worried about low salary due to cost of living. Firm also has very serious culture due to a lot of older employees and office personalities. On the flip side, there's a lot of seasoned people who work there that are willing to mentor me.

JOB #2
This is a development associate position for a multi-family developer in a secondary midwest market. Leveraged my development internship experience to get this position. This role would be more of an assistant project manager type roll. I'd essentially be the development managers assistant doing the crap he doesn't want to do. Wouldn't be doing any financial analysis. Company is much smaller, I think there's 6-7 people on the development team. They build garden style apartments, mostly tax credit deals. They build projects in their backyard but mostly in hot markets (think Texas, Florida). Position involves weekly travel. Although small, the company is well recognized locally and has a good reputation. They are offering me in the high 50's, which is a lot of money in the midwest. 2 worries I have: Although I will be traveling a bunch, I'll still be in the midwest, which I'm not thrilled about. Also, the development manager has 5 years total real estate experience, and some of those are as a financial analyst, not on the project management side.

One dilemma I'm thinking about is experience vs. mentorship. The job at the smaller company will allow me to gain a lot of experience but possibly not have the best role models while the larger company will give me access to some highly successful real estate professionals but I'd be a smaller fish.

Additionally, I like the multi-family asset class, but then again I'm 22 so can't say I'm set on multi-family. Heard its a good asset class to be in. I have a strong passion for development and am pretty certain I want to go out on my own someday, so the goal would be to go somewhere that would best prepare me for that.

Thanks for reading through this post, if I left any key info out please let me know!

Comments (11)

Dec 2, 2019

Working in the affordable space, I can tell you that not doing any financial analysis is a huge red flag for #2. Understanding the financing programs is the biggest value add component for a developer in the LIHTC world. If you like the city for #1 I would take that.

    • 2
Dec 2, 2019

Firstly, congratulations. That is not an easy feat. You should realize there isn't a "wrong" decision to be made here. By starting out in either role, you will still have the possibility for a great career and learn a lot.

With that said, I would go with Option 1. It's better to be the smaller fish in the big pond when the big fish are on your side and willing to mentor you. Although the salary is low, the experience will pay off tremendously. The financial side is a lot more interesting (imo) as someone on the PM side. It sounds like the only con to Option 1 is the pay, which will continue to go up. So you eat home cooked meals for a year? Probably healthier for you anyway.

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

    • 3
Dec 2, 2019

Thanks for the advice! That's what I've realized there is no wrong choice here. The other con to option 1 IMO is the serious culture. Everyone sits down and stares at their laptop in the few mins before meetings, not even a "hi". Half the people just aren't friendly period. I realize this is not a dealbreaker but it still matters.

Dec 2, 2019

Totally get that. Do you know that the culture at Option 2 would be better though? Friendly =/= good culture all the time too. My company is very friendly, except they're not very honest. Honesty is MUCH more important than friendly to me. I could go without them asking about my weekend and why I don't follow football if it meant trusting them professionally.

Company culture is important, but if it was really bad you wouldn't be posting it as an option. Seems like it's something you could live with because the experience would be great.

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

    • 2
Most Helpful
Dec 2, 2019

No offense to the guys who do them, but from a PM side, garden-style apartments are super boring and monotonous. It's a lot like doing single family residential, in the sense that it's really repetitive, stick-built buildings, minimal structural elements, minimal differences in HVAC/Plumbing, cheap boring-looking safe finishes. High-rises are more interesting from a project delivery perspective, have more moving parts and variables, and is harder to get into. Affordable is interesting because the buildings are can be super old and kind of a shit show, giving you a lot of valuable experience on worst-case scenarios. From an early career perspective, I really think it's more valuable to get a wide range of experience rather than being an expert on a single type of product.

I think you'll realize pretty quickly that your starting pay won't change your life significantly. The difference between 60-100k in lifestyle is really not as much as you'd think. I jumped ship at 2 years of experience to hit the 6-figure mark and definitely felt like it stunted my growth for a temporary raise. Smaller shops have higher risk, but higher opportunity. Larger shops are the opposite.

    • 4
Dec 2, 2019
Dumpster Fire Yuppie:

No offense to the guys who do them, but from a PM side, garden-style apartments are super boring and monotonous. It's a lot like doing single family residential, in the sense that it's really repetitive, stick-built buildings, minimal structural elements, minimal differences in HVAC/Plumbing, cheap boring-looking safe finishes. High-rises are more interesting from a project delivery perspective, have more moving parts and variables, and is harder to get into.

Absolutely could not agree more

Dumpster Fire Yuppie:

I think you'll realize pretty quickly that your starting pay won't change your life significantly. The difference between 60-100k in lifestyle is really not as much as you'd think.

Disagree with this though. Going from $60k to $100k was life changing for me personally. Far more than any of my successive comp increases.

    • 2
Dec 2, 2019

Good point about the garden-style apartments, definitely has less appeal compared to a residential tower with an indoor basketball court and golf simulator. In the long run I probably won't regret making under $60k out of school it's just hard knowing that its below market comp and potentially difficult to get by on if I live in the expensive city.

Dec 2, 2019

The amenities are neat, but the more complicated parts of project delivery is what you're really after. Anything that is complicated and a pain in the ass is what you want to be learning how to do. Permitting in dense metro areas, choosing between 10 million dollar facade and curtain-wall packages, getting in the nitty-gritty with multi-million dollar change order fights is what you want to be doing. Babysitting home depot contractors for single-family/garden-style is boring, and it sucks. Easy is nice but you learn nothing and it gets tedious quickly.

You'll need to sacrifice some things with a 55k salary in DC/Boston/Philly, but it's really not that bad. 55k means that you'll live with roommates, most likely in the burbs and possibly in the city with enough roomates, you can eat fast-casual every day, get tickets to upper-decks of whatever sporting event, tickets to whatever concerts that aren't Drake or in sports stadiums, bars 2-3 times a week and whatever Ubers you need, one overseas trip and two domestic ski trips a year. 100k to me just meant more money to save and makes it so I never have to worry about what's in my bank account. That being said, I had pretty low standard coming from a blue-collar family and working in restaurants throughout college.

    • 3
Dec 2, 2019

I would go with #1. #2 sounds like a potential mess where you will not get adequate training and will be working under someone who could be in above their head in terms of role/responsibility. The training, mentorship, and analysis education is pretty critical coming fresh out of school.

    • 1
Dec 5, 2019
Comment