How to Build your Career

I had a friend once who knew someone who worked at a very large mortgage company. I knew someone who worked at a small mortgage company who thought working at a large mortgage company was a bad idea.

“Why?” I asked my friend at the small company.

“Because they pay less per loan,” was his response. It turns out the person at the larger firm made more money than the person at the smaller firm even though they paid less per loan. It was a simple math problem. The person at the larger firm closed four times the number of loans than the person at the smaller firm. The reason was the larger firm’s other business units generated more leads for the mortgage department.

Larger companies will generally pay less than smaller ones. Hopefully as students you are learning there is more to a job than a paycheck and that your career is a long term process and not a short term process. Think about how much more the mortgage person is learning closing four times the loans. Now in theory if you were at the smaller firm and you closed the same amount you would make more. The problem with this theory is that it is usually not the case. Small firms do not have the advertising budgets or other departments to generate the leads.

This example is not just limited to sales jobs. Think of the credit analyst helping close these loans. Which one is seeing more loans and thus learning more? The credit analyst at the larger firm. Now once you are at a small firm you can ultimately work less and make more because you have a network in place to send you business, but how did you get that network? The answer is you made it at the larger firm when you were working on more transactions. You met more people who were part of the transaction and you stayed in touch. You were paid a salary that enabled you to network and you had an expense account that let you entertain your network. Big firms have the budgets to give this to you. Small firms expect you to bring it with you.

If you are looking at two internship or job offers I hope you take things like the number of transactions you will be exposed to and the resources you are provided to do your job into account. You want to start your career somewhere you can build skills and credibility that ultimately you can take to a smaller firm if you so choose.

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