Long Only Equity vs. Long / Short Equity

Rank: Chimp | 10

Current MBA student with several years of prior i-banking experience. Although I have no previous professional buy-side experience, I've been focused on summer internship recruiting for both long-only equity and long/short equity. I've been fortunate that I'm having some success in the process... I've gotten a lot of interviews, and I actually just got my first offer for a long-only shop. It's not a super well known shop but seems like they have good people and a good culture. I have no doubt I could be happy there.

However, I've also been very close with a couple extremely well-regarded long/short HFs, and I was very impressed with the investing culture and the people I spoke with at those firms. I am continuing to interview with a couple other L/S funds and remain in the process at a couple of those places. Not to be overconfident, but I am fairly certain I can land something decent on the L/S side as well. What I now need to decide is which route to pursue so I can determine how to respond to my offer when it expires in a few weeks, which is more of a philosophical "big life decision" that I think would be great to get your feedback on.

Here are my current pros and cons lists:

Long-Only Pros:
+ Stability of capital
+ Long-term investment horizon
+ Likely better hours/lifestyle
+ More stable comp
+ Better chance of internship leading to full-time offer
+ Less likely to get fired for immediate poor performance

Long-Only Cons:
- more BS "maintenance" work
- not a generalist
- can't short
- over-diversified, positions barely move the needle
- less "prestige" (not that important to me, but this may not be my last career move due to location factors outside of my control so want something that will be appealing on the resume)
- capped upside

Long/Short Pros:
+ Generalist
+ Can short, which is fun and super interesting
+ Can take concentrated positions that really move the needle
+ Tend to be smaller investment teams
+ Tend to be higher-prestige (not all)
+ Much higher financial upside

Long/Short Cons
- Tend to be more short-term focused
- High variability due to many factors not in your control... capital flight, fund blowups, etc.
- Could easily be fired if things go against you
- Less time to ramp up, expected to hit the ground running
- Compensation variability can be extreme
- Tend to have worse hours/lifestyle

What are your thoughts? Anything I'm not considering? I understand there is a lot of variability within each world, these are more general stereotypes. What decision would you make if you were in my shoes (and if you answer this, tell me a bit about your temperament and life situation)?

Thanks all!

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2/5/15

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