PM at a small company vs. Program Manager at FAANG

Hello! Thanks to so many folks in this community - I’ve found it really helpful.

I was wondering if folks might have some insight into the career decision I’m making.

Debating two offers:

  1. PM at a small public saas company (honestly most people haven’t heard of it), LA, 115k TC
  2. Program Manager at FANG (not Amazon) for more of an operations related role, Bay area, 190k TC

I think PM is more interesting (I like digging into the user experience and technical backlog aspects) but the comp is wildly different between the two (can’t be negotiated any further for either). To be fair, I’ve only had consulting and design roles in the past so never directly done a PM or PgM role before but seems like day-to-day in PM has more ownership and direct impact (plus better long-term trajectory).

I’ve heard PgM–> PM at FANG is a hard transition and I’m more likely to make it outside of FANG. However, I think the FANG brand/network could potentially help open PM doors (not completely sure about this though). Don’t have a long-term goal per se but I think PM at a smaller startup at some point in the future would be a cool experience I’d like to have.

Any insight here? Thanks so much!


Few different things to think about:

  • Compensation: how important is money to you? $75K / yr is substantial for most folks and completely changes their QoL.
  • Fulfillment: what matters more to you, having a small impact on a larger vision (FAANG), or having a large impact on a smaller product (small company)? Also, how important is prestige to you, i.e., how much do you like flexing?
  • Location: does it matter to you?
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Take the PgM. You can always switch to a PM role in most places after 3yrs in a prestigious company but you can’t always get a PgM or PM role at a prestigious company.

Even if PgM and PM are different, you’re starting out new. You have at least 20yrs to switch back and forth. Starting out at a well-established company is going to do wonders to open your eyes. These benefits aren’t something you can quantify.

I hope you realizes that getting into a prestigious company early on is going to do wonders for your career that can’t be quantified. The comparison to a startup is like do you want a peanut or a bag of peanuts.

I was a PgM at a FANG and you’re right that it’s not easy to transition, especially if you’ve never been a PM. You do get the advantage of having access to internal docs and recruiter names, but that’s it. You’ll need to do the same interviews as everyone else and you either get it or you don’t, it’s not guaranteed. You also have to compete with all of the other pgms who had the same idea as you. Let’s say you’re successful after 2-3 years, you’ll likely be down leveled, you won’t get a new equity package: meaning you’ll be underpaid until refreshers catch up, and you still won’t have any real PM experience at that point. Of course, this is the risk-averse path since you’ll be at FANG with higher pay, job security, better benefits, probably better wlb, and better prestige.

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If you want to do Product, do Product. You can always move to a big co after you have some PM experience under your belt.

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