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20 year old undergrad in need of career path advice


New Member
Hello QuantNet,

Disclaimer: Correct me about any incorrect information because I am just an undergrad novice student that found all this information online.

Who I am:
I'm a 20 year old undergrad junior graduating in may of 2017 with a bachelor's of science in mathematical finance with relevant coursework being: Calculus 1-3, Linear Algebra, Probability and Statistics, Differential Equations, Econometrics, Macro and Micro Economics, Principles of Investments, and Financial Modeling.
I have a very mediocre and arguably a very subpar gpa in this industry as a 3.3. However although not amazing, I am positive I can graduate with a 3.4-3.5 perhaps maybe even a 3.6. I am planning to study more after graduating with my bachelors degree but am conflicted whether I should go for a phd or a master's degree (personally am leaning more towards a master's). I would appreciate your guys' opinions.

What I want to do:
I have always an interest in math and business and when I found out math and business could be combined through the use of mathematical models and algorithms with financial concepts, I became obsessed with the idea and have been extremely passionate about becoming a quant ever since.

What type of quant do I want to be:
I understand there are many types of quants such as front office/desk quants, model validation quants, quant researchers, quant developers, statistical arbitrage quants, capital quants, and etc. I am just confused as to which specific quant I would fall under, given the description of what I am particularly interested that I am about to unveil to you.

My personal interests of what I want to do in the quant industry?
I did my own research and I think that I specifically fall under the category of a buy-side statistical arbitrage derivative trader quant role, but please correct me if I am wrong. I am interested in developing algorithms and models through a prototype language such as R or Python to predict the prices of securities; specifically derivatives. And I understand there are many areas of derivatives such as FX, equities, fixed income, credit, commodities, etc. However, I am not positive what area of derivatives I want to pursue because I'm not familiar about which area is growing, financially stable/safe, volatile, most paid, etc.

To further clarify my particular interest in this field in short, I want to be the quant who develops models to price or automate the trade of derivatives via a prototype scripting language ultimately so that the developers then translate my prototype language into a more optimal language. What is this type of quant called? Because I am almost positive "buy-side statistical arbitrage derivative trader quant" is not the correct name.

What school/Degree should I go after?
I have explained my background before and with that being said, what is realistic career path that I could follow regarding my future studies? I am leaning more towards a grad degree because I don't particularly want to stay in school for another 7-8 years for a phd. But I have heard most quants have phds. Is it taboo for a quant to be hired with a masters degree? What type of masters should I go for if I choose that route? Financial engineering, Mathematical Finance, Physics, etc? Is it realistic to even be looking at schools like NYU or Carnegie Mellon for a grad degree with a 3.5 if I do well on the GMAT?

This, was a loaded post and I understand. It's just that I am just extremely passionate about what I want to do with my future but at the same time in need of A LOT of knowledge and assistance. I hope you understand. I would love to hear individual opinions from you guys because I sure as hell am positive most people on this website know way more than I do.

Thanks again

Tom Maloney

Well-Known Member
As far as what you want to do and what you can pick up in school, I'd recommend you have a solid understanding of probability and statistics and being familiar with modern software engineering practices. Sure, if you're working in a bank with a head count of 10000 people, it might be the case that you implement models, and someone else implements the models in code. But if you're on the buy-side with a head count of say 10, you are implementing your own models and putting them into a live trading environment.

My personal opinion is that you don't need to be an expert in Real Analysis, but you should be familiar with the concepts of Stochastic Calculus.
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