Ask Ellen - Job Hunting and Career Development Advice

Ellen Reeves

Career Advisor
You should start looking now! You can always have informational interviews to assess your interest in a company and let them know you when you are available. This exploration process will help you determine what you want to do and will develop your network.
 
Dear Ellen,
I am a theoretical physicist and I am trying to transition into the world of finance. I have a strong background in research in quantum mechanics where I have published fifty papers in reference journals. I also have a background in computer programming. I teach Math in a High School (I am a National Board Certified Teacher; I am also professor of Statistics in one of our local universities). I also have some experience trading options in my own account. I am having trouble writing a one page resume that will attract attention for a possible recruiter. My resume is composed mostly of the list of my publications and a work experience as an educator. I realize that this resume in its current form will not help in trying to transition into the world of finance.

I will appreciate any help that you can provide me.
 

Ellen Reeves

Career Advisor
Roberto, sorry to take so long to get back to you. I am sure you've dealt with this by now but try some version of these headings as applicable for a one page resume: EDUCATION, PROGRAMMING AND COMPUTING SKILLS or FINANCIAL MODELING SKILLS, PROGRAMMING SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE, CERTIFICATIONS, AWARDS, PUBLICATIONS, FINANCE AND RELATED EXPERIENCE, RESEARCH AND TEACHING EXPERIENCE, COURSEWORK AND PROJECTS, ACTIVITIES, INTERESTS, LANGUAGES. You can combine or separate as necessary, and choose the information most relevant to the job or program at hand. Choose the order the same way, and don't hesitate to create headings that capture and highlight your experience. You can always attach a separate sheet with more details--lists or publications, etc. but you need a resume (which means SUMMARY or HIGHLIGHTS in French) not a CV.
 

suprafreshkid

New Member
Hey Ellen, what about having a speech impediment? Does the non-native rule still apply: "At the beginning of the interview, say, “As you can probably tell from my accent, I’m not a native English speaker, and I can function perfectly well in English, but I hope you won’t mind if I ask you to speak slowly or to repeat things.” This is especially important for phone and video or Skype interviews."
 

Curious Actuary

New Member
Hi Ellen

I am considering a career change to the quant field later this year, and am looking for some general advice about whether this is realistic given my background.

I am a pensions actuary working in the UK with circa 2 years post-qualification experience. I have a 1st class honours degree in Maths, but no PhD or masters. I expect that my actuarial studies will have covered the relevant financial mathematics (derivative pricing, etc.) I have no programming experience currently (though I work a lot with Excel) but I intend to take a C++ course over the next few months to get me up to speed.

I note that most employers require PhDs/Masters as a minimum requirement, as well as strong programming skills. I am hoping you are going to tell me that my actuarial experience will provide me with adequate post grad education to mean that pursuing a career change is realistic, but I am not sure if this is the case! I would be grateful for your views on this.

To be frank, I do not want to pour my efforts into developing my programming skills over the next six months to find out that a lack of PhD is going to work against me.

Many thanks.

CA
 

Lucas Hawk

New Member
I am a grad student at Texas A&M in Financial Mathematics. I was told yesterday by my Finance prof that my degree will be next to useless in becoming a quant, as it is not from an established program (Carnegie Mellon, Berkeley, NYU, etc.).
How much truth is there to this? I am looking for an internship this summer, but not had much luck? Any advice? A small firm I could have a chance at?
The firm list on this website looks to be all the major players, and their websites all seem to be looking to the pedigree schools for recruits.

TL;DR - I am in a less than stellar program, need advice or contacts for an internship this summer.
 

Ellen Reeves

Career Advisor
Hi Ellen

I am considering a career change to the quant field later this year, and am looking for some general advice about whether this is realistic given my background.

I am a pensions actuary working in the UK with circa 2 years post-qualification experience. I have a 1st class honours degree in Maths, but no PhD or masters. I expect that my actuarial studies will have covered the relevant financial mathematics (derivative pricing, etc.) I have no programming experience currently (though I work a lot with Excel) but I intend to take a C++ course over the next few months to get me up to speed.

I note that most employers require PhDs/Masters as a minimum requirement, as well as strong programming skills. I am hoping you are going to tell me that my actuarial experience will provide me with adequate post grad education to mean that pursuing a career change is realistic, but I am not sure if this is the case! I would be grateful for your views on this.

To be frank, I do not want to pour my efforts into developing my programming skills over the next six months to find out that a lack of PhD is going to work against me.

Many thanks.

CA
CA, I apologize--I've been off the site for several months. I'm hoping you got an answer--this is a question for the Education Advice Forum on Quant Net.
 

Ellen Reeves

Career Advisor
I am a grad student at Texas A&M in Financial Mathematics. I was told yesterday by my Finance prof that my degree will be next to useless in becoming a quant, as it is not from an established program (Carnegie Mellon, Berkeley, NYU, etc.).
How much truth is there to this? I am looking for an internship this summer, but not had much luck? Any advice? A small firm I could have a chance at?
The firm list on this website looks to be all the major players, and their websites all seem to be looking to the pedigree schools for recruits.

TL;DR - I am in a less than stellar program, need advice or contacts for an internship this summer.
Lucas, sorry not to get back to you. I've been off the site for several months. I hope you got an answer but if not, this is really a question for the Education Advice Forum on Quant Net. Thanks, Ellen
 

Ellen Reeves

Career Advisor
Hey Ellen, what about having a speech impediment? Does the non-native rule still apply: "At the beginning of the interview, say, “As you can probably tell from my accent, I’m not a native English speaker, and I can function perfectly well in English, but I hope you won’t mind if I ask you to speak slowly or to repeat things.” This is especially important for phone and video or Skype interviews."
Suprafreshkid, so sorry not to get back to you. I've been off the site for several months. If you are the one with the speech impediment, it depends how pronounced it is. If the interviewer cannot understand you, it's a problem--in which case, yes, I would use the same tactic above and say "I hope you can understand me; I have a (slight, if it is) speech impediment and will try to speak slowly and clearly but please ask me to repeat anything that isn't clear." If the interviewer is the one with the impediment and you can't understand him or her, you need to ask him/her to please speak more slowly so you can understand and if you can't, ask for information in writing or ask HR or the intermediary if it would be possible to have another interview as you were having difficulty understanding the interviewer.
 

Ellen Reeves

Career Advisor
MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR SUMMER INTERNSHIP
Hello, QuantNet readers. I'm putting together a seminar in NYC on "Making the Most of Your Summer Internship" and would like to enlist your help in determining a) If you think this is a good idea b) What topics you'd like to see addressed. Here are some topics I've been thinking about. What I find is that once many people get an internship, they just show up and do their job and leave. They do not understand how to connect with people across and outside of the company while they are there, how to introduce themselves to supervisors and colleagues and even other interns, to ask to learn skills apart from their specific job, to keep lists of their duties and accomplishments, how to get recommendations and referrals at the end of the internship, and how to turn the internship into a full-time offer if that's what they're looking for. Let me know what you think. I'd really appreciate it. Thanks, Ellen
 
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CNS

New Member
I think its a great idea. I was just wondering if there would be an audio or video recording of the seminar for those who are not being able to make it in NYC. Thanks.
 

kennethl

New Member
Hi Ellen, I need some advise on switching career to Quantitative finance from financial IT.
I have a MS in computer science and bachelor in business; I have been developing financial software for 15 years, 4 years developing ordering routing applications and 11 years of wealth management applications. I am currently a hand-on tech lead in an investment bank and thinking to switch into Quant (no specific function) by applying for a MFE program. What do you think of my chance for a successful switch? Many thanks!
 

Ellen Reeves

Career Advisor
I think its a great idea. I was just wondering if there would be an audio or video recording of the seminar for those who are not being able to make it in NYC. Thanks.
Thanks--will let you you if I do! Where are you located?
 

Ellen Reeves

Career Advisor
Hi Ellen, I need some advise on switching career to Quantitative finance from financial IT.
I have a MS in computer science and bachelor in business; I have been developing financial software for 15 years, 4 years developing ordering routing applications and 11 years of wealth management applications. I am currently a hand-on tech lead in an investment bank and thinking to switch into Quant (no specific function) by applying for a MFE program. What do you think of my chance for a successful switch? Many thanks!
Kenneth, this is something to discuss with representatives of the MFE programs but I can tell you this: anyone can switch with the right attitude and hard work; if you read more on QuantNet you'll find many stories. You've got great insights from your previous work experience; now you need to talk to people to learn how to talk about it from a Quant perspective. You may consider taking some on-line or local courses before or while you apply for programs--you might even get an employer to pay for your education--and you should be talking with people in your current workplace, having information interviews and finding out what kinds of shadowing experiences you might have to improve your candidacy to MFE programs. Good luck! If any readers have more advice for Kenneth, thanks for jumping in!
 

Deepesh Bharani

New Member
Hi Ellen!
I have been reading your replies to questions and they are of great help! Thanks a lot!
I need some advice on which program to go for next. I will be graduating next year with a Masters degree in Mathematics (with good GPA) from a prestigious college of India. Highly motivated to work in finance industry in US. Don't know much about things in this domain but trying my best to gather as much info as possible. I have this doubt that whether I should go for a Masters in Finance or pHD next. I already have a Masters in mathematics but I don't think that would help me in this field. Also, what sort of work do firms have for pHD's?
Thanks in advance!
 

Ellen Reeves

Career Advisor
Deepesh, thank you so much! These are questions for firms themselves, but my advice is to get an internship this year in the finance industry in India while you finish your Masters degree, and to spend as much as time as possible talking to finance people where you are about next steps. Can you add finance courses to your Masters degree this year? I'm a little confused because you wrote that you are finishing a Masters degree in Mathematics but then that you already have one! I don't think you need a PhD next, but you should also post this on the education thread on Quant Net. Good luck!
 

Ellen Reeves

Career Advisor
IS IT RUDE TO LET A CELL PHONE CALL GO TO VOICE MAIL IF IT'S AN EMPLOYER CALLING?
The other day, a question came up that I'd never heard before. I suggested that when you're job or internship hunting, if your cell phone rings and you don't recognize the number, you should let the call go to voice mail, hear the message, and get to a quiet place where you can pull your thoughts together and have a pad, pen and copy of your resume out before calling back. One of my students from China asked "Isn't it rude to let the call go to voice mail?" I was surprised, as another student had just shared a story of picking up the phone when he couldn't really hear, had no idea what company had called him for an interview, Googled the phone number and found out after the fact that he'd been talking to Barclays. I had not understood that cell phone voice mail is not used in China the way it is here. I just found this simplistic but useful graphic on the cultural differences in cell phone etiquette:
http://www.mediabistro.com/appnewser/infographic-illustrates-cell-phone-etiquette-from-around-the-globe_b39749
I'm interested to hear whether you think what's on the chart is true for your culture and how you feel about letting a call go to voice mail. For me, what's really rude is to pick up the phone and then not be able to hear--or to be wildly unprepared when you suddenly find yourself having an impromptu preliminary interview on the phone-- or to say "oh, I didn't know who was calling--I can't talk now--can I call you back?" You don't want to answer the phone where there is poor cell service (for example, the subway) or a lot of noise (a bar) or where there are other people listening to your call (bus, elevator....and let's face it.... the rest room.) You don't want to answer the phone when you're not prepared to be at your best. When you're job hunting, everything is code for "this is what I can do for you and this is the kind of work I will do for you." Everything is an act of self-presentation when you're job-hunting---even how, when, and where you choose to answer the phone. Let me know if you have stories to share on this subject. When an employer calls, I want you to be prepared.
 
Hi Ellen,

In Argentina most people will not answer their phones when they don't recognize the number, and just let it go to voicemail, from personal experience.
For some reason, many people have adopted to have their voicemail message say 'Please don't leave me a voicemail and text message me instead.' I don't think that would be a good message to have when you are job hunting.
But back to the original question, it is not bad etiquette to let a call go to voicemail.
 

Ellen Reeves

Career Advisor
Thank you, Fer! You raise an excellent point. When you're job hunting, your outgoing voice message should say, in as clear and professional a tone as possible, "Hello, this is (Your First and Last Name.) Please leave me a message with your name and number and I'll get back to you as soon as possible." No music, no background noise, no "Hey, dude, what's up?" no directives --as you note: telling an employer, "don't leave me a message; text me" will probably NOT result in a texted request for an interview. Also: a student pointed out that, for example, in NYC, when you see a 212 number, it may be a well-established firm who has had that exchange for many years. There may be other clues. But don't rely on the number on the screen as the call-back; if you hit redial, you may get the general switchboard at a large company, and you'll have no idea whom to ask for.
 

Kristine Bjarnum Rasmussen

New Member
C++ Student
Hi Ellen,
I am telling the headhunters that I will not be able to take all calls but if they leave a message or send an email with 'please call' then I will get back to them as soon as possible. In London it is well understood that phone calls go to voice mail and then you come back.
I partly do this for exactly the reason you are stating by not knowing who is calling I will like to know who I am speak to and about what, especially when you are running for a couple of jobs at the same time.
 
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