Junior FAANG engineer contemplating career switch

yung_swe's picture
Rank: Senior Chimp | 16

Hi guys, just recently stumbled upon this forum. Apologies in advance if this should be asked elsewhere.

I'm a recent college grad who currently works as a software engineer at Facebook/Apple/Amazon/Netflix/Google (FAANG). I'm wondering if it is worth it to
1) Switch to a product manager and then
2) Apply for an M7 MBA in 2-3 years

I want to lateral from SWE to PM regardless, so I don't think (1) would ever be a waste of effort. However, if I applied for an M7 MBA and got in, my express purpose would be to try to land an investment banking job (or maybe hedge fund, but idk how that works). The biggest con is that I think the actual MBA cost and forgone comp would be pretty high to me (about 700k), but to make up for that, it seems like my ROI would be much better coming out of MBA for future salary growth.

The other thing (besides PM lateral) I'm considering is switching into data science, and then either work at FAANG, prop shop, or hedge fund.

I'd appreciate any clarifications on my assumptions that may be incorrect, as well as what you guys think of the risk of the PM->MBA->finance path and what the best career is from a job stability and comp perspective, whether it's one of these paths or something else entirely. I also care about the work being interesting, but not as much.

Comments (7)

Apr 14, 2019

Those are good questions.

What are your main motivation for leaving software?

Do you care about making a lot of money?

Apr 14, 2019

It's a bit cynical unfortunately. Basically, I just don't find the work in software to be that interesting, and it appears that I'd get paid more in a traditional finance role after a few years post MBA (and I know the work in IB isn't interesting either).

I know that I'll be working a lot more in IB or a related finance role. I think that I'd basically be sacrificing a cushy job with a pay ceiling (400-500k for a 10-year experience FAANG engineer) for a more grindy job with a higher pay ceiling.

I do care about making lots of money to a degree. But I equally care about how guaranteed my salary growth is in finance (i.e. what are the statistical chances I make it to VP and then above that). I also care about being able to tone down the hours if/when I have a family. I'd say 60 hours a week would be a good target.

Appreciate it if you'd correct me on anything I said that was wrong.

Apr 15, 2019

Your points are fair.

But you have to understand that most people who go into IB don't make it to VP/MD (where most the money is made). It's not even about skill after a certain level. Luck and how the bank is structured becomes important. It's up or out. I've a lot of older friends who went into IB, and more than 50% are not even in the game anymore. They moved on to the buyside/random shit.

Over the same period (10 years), a typical FAANG engineer will out earn a banker who started at GS/MS/JPM because of consistent earning. Making 400-500K seems a lot more doable and repeatable in SWE vs. banking.

The only argument is if those people in IB exit to PE/HF. Else they take a pay-cut going to business school/startup/tech.

Invest what you earn in SWE wisely, let it compound over this period, and you'll be ahead of 99% of most people alone. You don't have to do anything fancy.

Lastly, the real money is not earn through a career. Its through ownership in a business. With the extra time in SWE, you can create additional income streams. With this fact alone, you should see that a career in SWE is a lot more attractive than finance these days.

Naturally, though, if you really hate SWE, then PM is a more suitable move.

I'll probably get money shit for this since WSO is filled with finance wannabes. But trust me. More of the "smart" kids at top schools are going into tech. Not IB. Maybe 5-10 years ago. More and more hustler from non-target schools are driving the class in IB these days. Which make sense. You don't need to use your brain in IB, but you have to hustle in IB.

    • 2
Apr 15, 2019

As someone who went to a LAC where people are econ majors for IB and Consulting - I saw all the truly smart people who were econ majors end up as CS majors and some dumb who joined the bandwagon of getting a GS level tech job bc they can't crack a good tech job, but you could argue they're smart too.

Apr 15, 2019

SB for the detailed response, thanks.

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Apr 14, 2019

Maybe consider working for a prop shop. About half the dev team at my firm is from FAANG and a couple of our research guys are as well. Obviously the dev guys are still building out our software, but its constantly changing (i.e. exchanges makes a technical change, trading new products, setting up new markets). You might even be able to jump to research. This is a bit different than what you have mentioned in this thread, but you might find it more interesting than IB.

    • 1
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Apr 16, 2019