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Advice on landing your dream job/ dream program

Hi everyone,


No longer providing private coaching sessions as my full time start date is approaching, and I want to commit all my efforts in preparation for that. Some exception may be given to exceptionally hard-working and commited students that just want some guidance of getting on to the right track (as always, I will NOT be sharing any of the questions I got asked or any other sensitive information, sessions are purely about helping ambitious students initially navigate through the complicated field of quant finance). I modified the post below to include the most useful concepts that I taught in the past sessions.

General Advice:

There seems to be some misconception that you have to be a math or programming prodigy from a top school to land the top dream jobs paying 350k - 600k+ USD straight out of new grad. Although these are the 'target' students for these firms, this is merely a sufficient but definitely not necessary condition to land the internship/new grad offer - more average students such as myself can land these jobs as long as they understand the concept of an 'edge'. An 'edge' is essentially what distinguishes you from everyone else in this hyper competitive space. Yes, being an International Math Olympiad medalist, Putnam fellow, top HYPSM student is definitely a huge edge (you will see quite a few people with these accomplishments in this field), but this is not realistic for most people. More average students have to accumulate a lot of smaller edges to have a decent shot; some of these edges include simply just preparing and applying as early as possible, understanding what resources to use, having an ambitious study circle, having the appropriate mindset/attitude, etc. Some edges are more significant than others. For example, just being extremely driven is the absolute bare minimum and is by itself not enough of an edge since too many people can just work hard. IN ADDITION to working as hard as you possibly can, a better edge is knowing what resources to use, what's the best way to distribute your time, etc. It's also really easy for people to just tell someone to work hard but staying motivated is by itself fairly challenging even for the most driven people. One tip I use to keep motivated is just thinking about how much regret would haunt me if 10 years down the line I ask myself "what if I just worked a bit harder back then, would my life be significantly different?". You also have to understand that even giving your 1000% and doing everything right does not guarantee anything but at least you have no regrets since you did everything you can and maybe it just wasn't mean to be. It's important to realize there is some aspect of luck, and at the highest levels there is some genetic limitation (just like how not everyone that loves basketball can get in the NBA, the best QR jobs may not be for everyone - I mention this because I seen on several forums some more naive newcomers to the field that just see the $$$ and underestimate what it really takes to get there).

In terms of mindset/attitude, an edge can be obtained by just being self-aware, reflective, and adaptive. For every failed interview, reflect very deeply on what you did wrong, identify the root cause of why you did it wrong (Am I studying the wrong things? Am I not just working hard enough? I seen something similiar before but still got it wrong, am I just memorizing and not understanding/generalizing? Etc.), and fix it for next time. Without going into detail, being self-aware and reflective will also benefit greatly in the behavioral rounds. Reflectiveness and adaptiveness can also be applied in how you study. To be honest, it's really not that difficult to find what resources to use - it's all over Quantnet (and 1point3acres). There are many articles recommending the Green book, Dan Stefanica Rados and Ivan books, Mark Joshi books, etc. Many students start too late and just speed memorize the solutions. Start early, take your time, it's not even enough to understand the solutions, you should get to a level where you understand how a person can initially even come up with this solution. I would recommend first starting with Green then Baruch's 150Q book, if you studied them properly you should be able to do most of Joshi without looking at the solutions (a lot of the questions are also just overlaps or slight modifications). Once the foundations are down, maybe then start working on the more advanced books such as Baruch's "Probability and Stochastic Calculus Questions". It's important to note these books are not sufficient by themselves as they're fairly light on theoretical material and you should be quite sound in most quantitative material covered in reputable quant programs (what if there's too much material to remember? Well, general understanding is emphasized over memory, you're usually not going to be asked to regurgitate an equation for the theoretical questions).

For people that ask "is x, y, z enough of an edge?" The general answer is if it's not tough, and anyone can do it, it's probably not an edge. Examples of edges that are helpful (but not all necessary): Any well-established contest on a quantitative subject (great performance on national/provincial levels is usually sufficient to be an edge, usually math, coding, physics contests are prioritized), Leetcode has weekly competitions (great practice under some pressure), Google Kickstarters, can you develop a project to a publishable standard (many QRs have publications in top journals), can you apply your quantitative knowledge to develop an edge in any game with some real stakes (poker culture in many firms)?, and the biggest edge of them all - if you already have internships at well established firm whether it be a FAANG or other top hedge funds and received return offers (this is the biggest indicator of your success at the job). On the last point, a common path of certain succesful universities is to allow students to take multiple internships during undergrad, and a common progression would be something like start with whatever firm will take you -> a bigger name firm -> Amazon -> Meta/Google/Databricks etc. -> Citadel/Jane Street (this progression is more cs based, but can apply the same idea to quant, and honestly an internship can be helpful even if it isn't in the quant field, as long as its a top internship in their field, the idea is smart people that proven themselves can learn other fields pretty quickly)
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Went to the same program as QuantCoach. Incredibly smart, driven, and has solid advice to pass on. If you are looking for guidance on topics that are routinely asked on these forums, such as MFE advice, interview prep, and various other questions for the aspiring quant, I think this is an excellent person to learn from!
the meeting moved at a extremely fast pace
the best thing about this coaching session is that it includes a lot of details! very specific information that stands out from most of the "general" replies for getting quant jobs. There's a lot of cases and a lot of advice on "what should you do" or "how should you express", detailed advice from a lot of internview experiences.
I really appreciate all the help. BIG RECOMMENDATIONS!!
I just recently had an amazing 1-1 session with @QuantCoach , he was able to guide me through a lot of queries i had being new to this field and i highly reccomend taking a session!
Had a great session with @QuantCoach , answered all of my queries. He also gave very specific information on preparations and also gave recommendations on how to best utilise time to improve the profile. Highly recommend taking a session if looking for guidance on quant roles.
I'm not going to post about my biz here since I'm a direct competitor to @QuantCoach (and I'm way more expensive), I'll just confirm the fact that you don't have to be a math wiz from a top university... especially since most quant programs are happy with their grads working in risk which doesn't require super high levels of mathematics.
Just an update that I will stop providing private coaching sessions as my full time start date is approaching, and I want to commit all my efforts in preparation for that. I hope the sessions benefitted you all. I updated my original post to include the most helpful general advice that I taught during the sessions as it may be useful for the general community.