Hi - Right now, I'm debating between two offers. One from a big league finance firm and the other from a top tier consulting firm. I like them both, but I'm not sure what I should do.

I eventually want to be a VP of Finance/Strategy/Operations, and I want to get the right first job. What should I do?

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8 months ago

Hey, tough question, but a good problem to have. So based off what you shared so far, it will be hard to go wrong. Don't put too much emphasis on the "RIGHT" first job. Because I seriously doubt you will be there long ("long" by today's definition is anything more than 4 years). I graduated in 2009 at the peak of the recession (or valley...whichever way you want to look at it). I went for location. Having lived in San Diego all my life, including college, I wanted to go elsewhere. I had a choice with two awesome big firms -- Northrop Grumman in LA, or Pacific Gas and Electric in San Francisco. Northrop is sexier by far, but I was drawn to San Francisco, and PG&E ain't too shabby. Am I glad I went to San Francisco! I got in at the right time and now I'm living/working at the epicenter of innovation and startups. I've been fortunate enough to build an amazing network of colleagues, friends, mentors, etc...opening up all kinds of opportunities.

So getting to the point -- try to look past "The Firm." My humble advice is to look downfield. If they are in different cities, which city is more poised for economic growth? Do you have a more established network at one firm over the other (even just 1 person who will want to see you succeed)? That's a HUGE advantage if they are already established and can continue to vouch for you along the way in your first 1-3 years. Where will you get more exposure to executive leadership or a variety of roles within the company...a variety of people?

Lastly, great to see that you have an end game in mind. It will keep you focused. Be sure to stay open minded. You never know how your career may shift throughout your 20s. I made a complete 180deg switch from strategic sourcing/operations at 2 big established companies after 6 years, to jumpstarting my career in sales with a relatively small young startup when I was 27. Couldn't be happier with the move.

Take it 2 years at a time for now. 5 and 10 year plans are for old guys, like I'm becoming ;)

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