Not working in SFO/SEA/NYC: Is this career suicide?

New ijhg
Nov 25, 2018 51 Comments

So obviously I did not get a FAANG level job offer which is why I'm not moving into SFO/SEA/NYC.

My job offer is in a suburban city (population 100k-1mil) in the Midwest/Southwest. TC $190k for Senior ML Scientist position for Fortune 500 company, but not a tech company. Cannot reveal more details than that. I do have other offers in SFO/SEA/NYC, but TC is not even close to $190k.

I want to get into FAANG level companies eventually, and will go out on market in 6-12mths. Is this move career suicide?

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TOP 51 Comments
  • Target / Eng .¯\_(ツ)_/¯
    If your career aspirations are to join FAANG level companies then you’ll need to continue to push to get into sector. It depends on motivations, really.

    190k in Midwest is a hell of a lot of money. Why would you move on from that? That’s probably equivalent to 300k+ in SFO/Seattle/NYC.
    Nov 25, 2018 7
    • LinkedIn Kwofjrjw
      That's not how cost of living adjustment works. Sure houses will be much cheaper, no question. But the prices of most goods are not going to be significantly cheaper. Your car is going to cost the same amount, along with most other things. Even after adjusting for housing costs you'll have way more disposable income making 500k in bay area, the difference is that you just won't get as big of a house in the bay area.
      Nov 25, 2018
    • Target / Eng .¯\_(ツ)_/¯
      We’re being facetious.
      Nov 25, 2018
    • Facebook oJvA68
      500k+ is way more than 190k+ Midwest. You can buy a house after just a few years and you only need one house. Then you get appreciation on that’s $1m+ house and $500k+ income and that $1m+ unvested equity.
      Nov 25, 2018
    • Salesforce pmyz88
      House in Bay Area in good school district is $2.5M min and frankly you get something crappy for that .. also your 500K will put you in high tax bracket and CA state taxes are double most states.. finally cost for everything is super high so may be $500K is a bit high but not that much ..
      Nov 25, 2018
    • Facebook oJvA68
      They have houses outside of PA. Got a sweet house for 1.3M.

      And boohoo you have to pay a bunch of taxes if you earn a lot.

      500K is still a lot if you’re not stupid with your money.
      Nov 26, 2018
  • Microsoft Yoauow
    Do the needful
    Nov 25, 2018 1
    • New ijhg
      OP
      Needful???
      Nov 25, 2018
  • Airbnb Pomax
    You are too fixated on FAANG. Due to CoL differences you are way better off with this job than the vast majority of people in FAANG. Your quality of life will be dramatically higher too. Take it and don’t look back.
    Nov 25, 2018 4
    • New ijhg
      OP
      Not true. State taxes make the location same as Seattle in COL. My rent is $900/mth there and I pay about $800/mth in taxes. I can get an apt for $1800-2000/mth in Redmond, WA.

      Compared to NYC, the rent is also $1800-2000/mth in NJ, with higher NY/NJ tax, and only double the rent, so about $30-40k before tax in TC will compensate for COL difference.
      Nov 25, 2018
    • Amazon / Mgmt KYuG83
      Seattle has state sales tax of 9.5%. It’s not like there is no tax here. People usually don’t factor in estimated state sales tax or property tax into income because it is harder to estimate than income tax, but it sounds like your state income tax is about 5%, and the other taxes and costs associated with living in Seattle will add up the same. Plus, all of that incremental income over $190K will be taxed at 35%+, you get diminishing returns on the income in the higher brackets. The federal tax system favors those who make less and live in lower COLA area, unless you are mega-wealthy.

      Good luck finding an $1800 apartment in Redmond that you actually want to live like an adult in!

      Ps - it sounds like your heart is deadset on FAANG, and you are looking for people to agree with you. I cannot be that person but I recognize the importance of idiosyncratic preferences, so I say maximize the potential of getting into Amazon, because it is easier to get into and then lateral into a great position than other tech firms, and then go for it. If you will feel inadequate and this bizarre unexplainable complex where you feel you are committing career suicide and are inventing your own form of financial planning math to support why you need to be FAANG... you clearly need to be at FAANG. Your psychological identity is tied up in it, that’s why.

      I live in Seattle, originally from Ohio — I can assure you you will live better in the midwest with $190K. Also, I’m a former CPA before tech, I also assure you your math on the taxes is incomplete but you are the scientist so you can figure that out eventually. Just make sure your personal financial analysis is accurate enough that you would stake your professional reputation off of it, since you are making life decisions on it.
      Nov 25, 2018
    • New ijhg
      OP
      @Amazon I see that you have thought it through, and we prob have diff assumptions. I am a lifelong renter, so property taxes are baked into rental price. I don't like spending money and at most I spent $800/my on non rental expenses. No state tax favors the rich who don't spend. Also moving from 24% to 32% tax bracket while not good is offset by lack of FICA taxes. I've done the projection and effective tax rate is relatively flat from $100k to $500k.

      But you are right that there may cognitive biases. Getting into FAANG means that I have 'won' the game and I will never be satisfied until I do. A new gig can provide temporary relief for 1-2 yrs, but the urge will never go away.
      Nov 25, 2018
    • Amazon / Mgmt KYuG83
      Then this isn’t about avoiding career suicide, or financial independence or wealth or quality of life. This is about prestige, esteem, and preference. And those are highly motivating and valid reasons.

      I think you should absolutely try for it because it sounds like it will make you very happy. If you need a referral you can even DM me. It isn’t career suicide if you do not join FAANG, but if it makes you happy and fulfilled, and that is the reason why, then you should make it a goal.
      Nov 25, 2018
  • GE TAUK74
    I’d also say, the concern you should have is actually liking the Midwest area you move to! You might settle down and miss the hassles a city brings. You might like your job, company, co-workers, and the allure of FAANG might fade. I know, first world problems, right?
    Nov 25, 2018 6
    • Amazon AIV
      Most people never get 500k. There are people on here that were lucky one year and then keep saying they have 500k TC and there are others who are liars. Don’t get hung up there. As another said, you should knock your current job out of the park and write your own story. Then, if you wanna go FAANG you’ll easily be able to.

      But seriously if you like where you live, then you are in a great position.
      Nov 25, 2018
    • Shopify / Eng 38d
      ^ this is the best advice here. Do your best, success will follow.
      Nov 25, 2018
    • New ijhg
      OP
      I'm sorry that's just not true. Senior level at FAANG gets $250-350k and that's director level salary at Fortune 500 non tech companies. It's not just a matter of doing a good job, being in a high TC company is also equally if not more important.
      Nov 25, 2018
    • Target / Eng .¯\_(ツ)_/¯
      OP you’re too hung up on numbers. You can be very well off with your TC in the Midwest and never have to worry about being able to afford a nice home. Move to any of your three preferred cities and 300k is peanuts to what you make now.

      If your sole motivation is money then yes, work towards FAANG. If your motivation is happiness, WLB and living comfortably then stay where you are.
      Nov 25, 2018
    • Amazon AIV
      300k in Seattle is not that much more than 190k in Midwest @ijhg.

      NYC or SFO? Forget about it. At 190k in Midwest you’re way above a 300k TC in those locations.

      I’m not saying don’t go to those places. I’m saying right now just slay at your VERY cool well paying job and after you’ve built a resume of accomplishments you’re really proud of, write your own story and then take a high paying high ranking job at FAANG or wherever.

      From a pure COL standpoint though I recommend sticking to Seattle or LA. SFO and NYC are just absurdly over priced so only go there if you have some dream of living in those places. You seem to care more about money though.
      Nov 25, 2018
  • GE TAUK74
    I’m not sure where you are in your career, but since advice on this app is free, you can take mine or leave it! ‘Senior ML Scientist position for Fortune 500’ is a good position that should let you do good work and allow you to write your own story. It’s a hot skill, people will come knocking on your door in time. Just focus on knocking it out of the park. Location is not a career killer, in fact, willingness to relocate is seen positively, in general.
    Nov 25, 2018 0
  • IBM / Finance tricia
    Take the midwest job, don't be fixated on FAANG.
    Nov 25, 2018 6
    • IBM / Finance tricia
      Yes, "Says the IBMer". Let me give few more information - Says the IBMer who worked at Apple in the past (a FAANG) - I left Apple for another company then IBM and now I earn twice as much as I did at Apple. Work remote 100% of the time from my home. Left SFO area for my home town in Midwest, settled here. Bought and fully paid a 7000 sq ft house beside a lake in a good neighborhood with best schools and hospitals in US. Save more money in a year than most of the TC here at Blind and what I used to earn at Apple.
      Nov 25, 2018
    • LinkedIn / Mgmt Rebardo
      Says everybody on this whole comment chain, lol. If I wasn’t already tied to the Bay Area by friends/family relationships, I’d totally choose that Midwest offer in your situation.
      Nov 25, 2018
    • Google / Eng
      ruminate

      Google Eng

      PRE
      Amazon, Yahoo, Microsoft
      ruminatemore
      Where in the Midwest are you? I’m also planning on doing remote work and trying to replicate a similar lifestyle. I bought a lake home in a Midwest metro area. It wasn’t cheap, but a real deal compared to the coasts. 800k (plus renovation costs) for prime lake front property in a nice suburb, 20 min from airport with the best schools in the state. Such property would probably be millions in coastal areas. Winter will be tough in the Midwest and there aren’t high paying job alternatives if I leave my remote job, but those are the trade offs.
      Nov 25, 2018
    • IBM / Finance tricia
      I live in one of the Western Suburbs of Chicago. I agree weather is not something so great, but I was born and bred over here and the this "game of thrones" style winter is something I am used to. I know people who came from other warmer place but in a year or two they get used to the same
      Nov 25, 2018
    • New ijhg
      OP
      No offense to IBMers and others who replied. If you were in FAANG and envy the midwest/southeast offer your opinions don't carry much weight. I agree with you though, in that I want to get into FAANG and retire elsewhere. I'm not in FAANG yet, so that is a problem.
      Nov 25, 2018
  • Amazon VpYJ78
    If you want to work at a FANG one day more experience is always good until you're over 40, and then its situational. Work there for 2 years then apply wherever -- the only career suicide in tech is working at Oracle.
    Nov 25, 2018 2
  • Google amzng123
    It's not suicide, but it will certainly make your move to faang much more difficult. You are working for a non tech company and you are working in a non tech location.

    Take the lower TC and move to a nimble VC backed startup in a tech hotbed. Makes your next move much easier.
    Nov 25, 2018 2
    • New ijhg
      OP
      You think it would be easier to transition into FAANG by settling for a mid tier startup (not unicorn) in SFO/SEA/NYC? Because that's prob the best alternative I can get.

      FYI my background was working in R&D but also not in tech and I am aware of the bias that tech has against people like me, and it's really frustrating and difficult to break through.
      Nov 25, 2018
    • Google amzng123
      Yes, I think mid tier startup is better in one of those three cities is better than a non tech F500 in midwest if your next step is FAANG. The chance of you using a solid tech stack is higher.
      Nov 25, 2018
  • Remember, big market/small fish big Vs. Big fish/small(or less attractive) market. Imagine if you’re THE data guy at a company that doesn’t have tech focus and you’re able to solve real problems, versus you’re simply one of 1000 others in a company trying to label Hot Dog or Not Hot Dog
    Nov 25, 2018 1
    • New ijhg
      OP
      I am already big fish in small pond in my current company and I don't like it. I rather be small fish in big ocean.
      Nov 25, 2018
  • Amazon / Eng RedishCard
    Most (if not all) FANG companies won't ask for your previous compensation, experience is experience is experience. If you go, have impact, and come out a stronger candidate then you have nothing to worry about. However, if you go and coast your chances will be worse.
    Nov 25, 2018 1
    • Spotify KXAo87
      GOOG won't even match current comp, you have to use it to get an offer at FB and have GOOG compete against that
      Nov 25, 2018
  • OpenDoor ajardoor
    If your goal is a big established tech company then you should get on the ladder that leads you there : A tech company of some form, a network of co-workers and friends who work in tech, meetups and culture focused on tech, etc.

    If you are in, say Dallas working for American Airlines, you are developing experience, skillsets, reputation, network, etc that don't move you towards the goal.

    It's probably a fine life and career you'll start but is not the track to fang if that is what you want to aim for.
    Nov 25, 2018 2
    • New ijhg
      OP
      Thanks OpenDoor. I agree with you on this. A lot of feedback here seems to be clouded by people already in FAANG and thus have 1-2mil net worth and are looking for a retirement gig.

      I'm already an old fuck in my 30s, wasted half a decade on a useless PhD and every day I am not in FAANG, it gets even worse. It's like sitting on a time bomb everyday and I doubt anything but FAANG will resolve it.
      Nov 25, 2018
    • OpenDoor ajardoor
      No one can tell you what you should dream about, but do recognize that past returns don't predict the future. FAANGs have the reputation because they already won. If you want FAANG go after it, but recognize that you might be overlooking the experience, upside and adventure that made the FAANG companies their reputation and fortune.

      These companies are now big and running their cash making machines but are mostly not in a position to disrupt themselves. One thing is certain, these guys will not 100x.

      My point here is that maybe you should aim for not a FAANG but a company that is the next acronym. Maybe you already have an offer from one of these?
      Nov 25, 2018
  • Amazon tdubya
    I tell people that they want to work at least one FAANG company before retiring because it makes you look more attractive. A Sr. ML scientists at Target is not as attractive as a ML scientists at Amazon, Google, Facebook.
    Nov 25, 2018 2
    • Amazon / Mgmt KYuG83
      I agree with this but would change the phrase “before retiring.” Maybe to “before pursuing your dream job.” People don’t get a job at FAANG right before they retire so that they will look more attractive for the next job that they will never have since they’re retiring.
      Nov 25, 2018
    • New ijhg
      OP
      +1. The offer I have would be a good retirement gig.
      Nov 25, 2018
  • Google / Eng Pfjhebs
    Stay at 190k in Midwest if everything else there is nice e.g. like the area, partner/kids are there, etc
    Nov 25, 2018 2
    • Google / Eng Pfjhebs
      Also ask yourself why you want to join FAANG. TC? Prestige? Ego? Location? Job content?
      Nov 25, 2018
    • New ijhg
      OP
      All of the above. TC is still better even after COL adjustment. I want prestige and name recognition. I am currently big fish is small pond I hate it. Also ego factors and job security, I want to be headhunted and poached all the time.
      Nov 25, 2018
  • Target / Eng .¯\_(ツ)_/¯
    Pretty sure OP is mad trolling.
    Nov 25, 2018 0
  • Spotify KXAo87
    Take the money and enjoy your awesome cushy life. If you feel too disconnected, attend / speak at some conferences
    Nov 25, 2018 0