Ask Ellen - Job Hunting and Career Development Advice

neo_manish

New Member
Hi Ellen,

I am graduating from a college with a B.A in Math & B.S in Info Systems soon and am strongly interested in a career as a financial engineer. I need help on deciding what would be the best entry level job to work for a year (preferably in NY, DC or other big cities) or two before moving on to a MFE or Financial Math program.

I'm currently interning as an investment analyst for a mutual funds company.

Any help/ advice from your side would be greatly appreciated.
 

Ian Kaplan

Active Member
I can't find it now, but someone posted an excellent essay on the outlook for the quant job market. I'd recommend reading as many of these posts as you can.

The summary is that the salaries for quants are not terribly good. You can make close to a quant salary working as a software engineer. I love finance, so I would not discourage you for following what you love. But you've have to pay the bills. There's more quants than there are jobs. So if I were you, I'd get a job doing software engineering. This will stand you in excellent stead if you decide to pursue a Masters degree. I can't emphasize enough how important software skills are. Both in grad school in working in finance. And you will also have a career path if you find that you can't get a job as a quant.
 

Andres Salazar

New Member
Hi Ellen,
If a person completing an MSc in Scientific Computing wants to start a career in Finance, more specifically in Risk Management. Would you recommend this person to take a class in Risk Management - to get an idea of the field - or take a Stochastic Processes class - to understand models used in the field?
 

Ellen Reeves

Career Advisor
Andres, if you haven't gotten an answer yet, you might re-post to one of the more specific threads about education. Obviously the best would be to take both but another approach is to start having some informational interviews at places you might want to work and ask them that question! Or to get an internship and try to get hands-on experience. There are on-line courses to consider as well as classes. If you take a Risk Management class, I'd recommend taking it from someone who is actually a risk manager him or herself.
 

Ellen Reeves

Career Advisor
LINKEDIN--HOW ARE YOU USING IT ??? How should you be using it???
I'm putting together a talk on how to get the most out of Linked-In for Quants. I'd appreciate any questions you have about using Linked-In in your search for an internship, job or new job, any tips you're willing to share, and any brief anecdotes about how you've used LinkedIn. What works? What doesn't or hasn't? Do you mind when people contact you through LinkedIn if you don't know them? Do you answer them? Are most queries from recruiters?
I found these interesting stats at this blog post http://www.forbes.com/sites/cherylsnappconner/2013/10/27/five-linkedin-strategies-you-havent-thought-of-before/
"In quick summary, the overwhelming majority of current LinkedIn users (84.4 percent) are using LinkedIn’s free account. Only 15.1 percent pay for premium service. Groups are an increasingly important feature of LinkedIn, paid or free: 35.5 percent of users are in 1-9 groups.

The most used features people currently use and value are, as follows:

• Who has viewed your profile (70.6 percent)

• People you may know (65.2 percent)

• Groups (60.6 percent)

• Direct messaging (48.7 percent)

LinkedIn has been most helpful in 2013 for enabling people to

• Research people and companies (75.8 percent)

• Reconnect with past business associates/colleagues (70.6 percent)

• Build new relationships with people who may influence potential customers (45 percent)

  • Increase face-to-face networking "
Thanks!


 

Ellen Reeves

Career Advisor
MAKING THE TRANSITION FROM QUANTITATIVE FINANCE TO AN MBA

Hoping for input on this question, and if you are someone who has made the transition yourself or know of someone and are willing to connect by e-mail with the student who sent me this question, please send me a note on QuantNet and I'll put you in touch.

Dear Ellen:
I will be heading to Columbia straight after completing my Undergraduate degree and I would like to get a few years of experience on Wall Street under my belt, hopefully at a Bulge Bracket, before I apply to a MBA. I suppose I may not go for a MBA in the end, but after a few years I would like to eventually end up in something non-technical with more of a managerial element. May I ask you if you know this is done a lot, that is, a transition from Quantitative finance to a MBA as I don't seem to have been able to find many such people?
 

Ken Abbott

Managing Director
Ellen, typically these are distinct career paths. Many senior quants do end up in managerial roles, but that kind of management involves people and process and not many of the other things taught in an MBA program, like marketing.

Unfortunately, the career flexibility that was common in finance several decades ago has, to some extent, gone the way of the bison. Hiring is much more targeted now and people tend to specialize early. It's very important that people carefully consider their educational choices, since decisions made now are likely to have last effects.

I've always considered finance fundamentally to have two separate branches: 1) understanding how cash flows through a company and 2) understanding stochastic processes. The first I'll refer to as the "fundamental" side and the second the " technical" side. (I know: What a clever taxonomy!). On the fundamental branch are things like accounting, corp fin, M&A, strategic planning , etc, while the technical branch is comprised essentially of time series analysis and PDE-based stuff. These are the chalk and cheese of the business-they are very very different. Years ago, it was possible to move between them (as I was able to do) but I see much, much less of that these days.

Moving from the tech side to the fundamental side is probably harder than going the other way. Beyond a core set of courses, the key element on the deal side is experience. You need to have seen many, many transactions. (That's why, in my opinion, the case study method is so popular. Going from the deal side to the tech side can be achieved (at least in theory) by taking math and statistics courses. This is how I did it twenty years ago.
 

Kyu

Member
C++ Student
Hi Ellen Reeves,
I completed C++ programming Certificate last year.

My brief background is as below.
10+ years in financial industry.
Algorithm based trader, Quant portfolio manager at one of the top hedge funds.
Majored in Economics and have an MBA.
Recently I got an C++ certificate and have programming skills in Python as well.
Experience of managing $200 million asset (long-term) and $5 million for intraday only.
Statistical arbitrage, momentum strategies for equity and futures.

Since last year, I took some time off, and I have been studying programming languages including C++ and Python. As results, I have developed some robust trading models.

Now I'm looking for a job. But most hedge funds are looking for a quant who has track record of real trading rather than just back-tested portfolios.

I have not traded for a year. Many firms were insterested in my studies and models, but they all said I don't have recent track records. If I trade with real money from now, it will take at least another 6 months to 1 year to make real track records. However, I want to restart working right now. Can you give me your advice and recommendation for me to find a job or how to approach?

Thank you.
 

Ellen Reeves

Career Advisor
Kyu, if you're in a position to take an internship so you can get a track record in a firm while you trade yourself, that might help to get your foot in the door. The other thing is to use your network to find someone who will take a chance on you because you are known to them or one of their friends. Sending resumes blindly won't do the trick. Have you used your network from your MBA program (meaning, not just people you knew but the alumni and career services network) and then from your job at the "top hedge fund" to set up lots and lots of informational interviews?
 

Kyu

Member
C++ Student
Dear Ms.Ellen Reeves:

Thank you for your recommendation.
1). I will ask my former co-workers and bosses (many of these left firms or moved to other firms...) to introduce me to some funds.

2). I will find out my MBA network, but I don't expect much from them.

3). Getting an internship is a little tricky. As I have already 10+ professional experience, they will not hire me as an internship. But I will try. I hope I can get even an internship.

I'm currently sending resumes and portfolios to many hedge funds (large to mid-sized) for the positions of either junior or senior positions in domestic or global. So far, a very few people contacted me. No further development yet.
I will try as best as I can and get back to you later.

Thank you.
 

Ellen Reeves

Career Advisor
FINDING A JOB IN ANOTHER CITY
One of my students asked about finding a job in a city other than the one he's currently in. Here was my advice, written as if directed to him:

While you're at your internship/summer job, you need to reach out to everyone you can there to build your network and find opportunities elsewhere. When you start getting friendly with people, at a certain point you can let them know that when you graduate, you'll be looking in another city for a full-time job and name a few cities. Ask if they have any suggestions for people you might talk to---but it would help if you identify a few companies so you can start by naming those and see if that sparks their thinking.
You say you have almost no connections in other cities but almost is to zero--if you have even one in each place, you should be contacting them. You might want to plan far in advance to take a trip to each city and set up informational interviews there.
Don't forget that your current program has a network of alumni who either work in those cities or have worked there or have contacts there. Have you asked the program director for names of alums who have worked in those cities? Have you reached out to your own classmates in person and on Linked in to ask if they know people working in those cities or have worked there? Have you registered with the alumni association and career network so you can use their data base of alums in those cities and contact them for informational interviews, before or after you see leads posted for concrete jobs on the internet? Do you use Quant Net that way?

If anyone has other ideas, please let me know!
 

zebullon

New Member
Ms. Reeves,
I wonder how long the recruitment process for a junior quant takes, from the time I answer an open position to the finalization (under the assumption that I pass all steps). Obviously it varies, but a ballpark figure would be useful. I will graduate 6 months from now and I want to know when it's sensible to start browsing through the offers availale.

Regards :)
 

jetpotion

Member
my friends wanted a job in quant finance..... There is a just problem. He may have a quantitative major but he comes from a non target. How would I advise him to get a quant internship?Where does he start?He attends baruch and if you can tell me where he can start;that would be very nice. Can he come talk to you as well?
 

Ellen Reeves

Career Advisor
Ms. Reeves,
I wonder how long the recruitment process for a junior quant takes, from the time I answer an open position to the finalization (under the assumption that I pass all steps). Obviously it varies, but a ballpark figure would be useful. I will graduate 6 months from now and I want to know when it's sensible to start browsing through the offers availale.

Regards :)

Zebullon, apologies--I haven't been on QuantNet, as you can see. I don't know if you've found a position yet, but there really is no concrete answer. The key is when can you start? Were you a full-time student? Some of my Quant Students can take jobs and move to part-time or night classes to finish their degrees while they start a full-time job. It can take several months to locate the right opening--I would generally say 3-6 months but it all depends on individual situations--location, your background, what internships you've had, what positions you're looking into... or you could find an opening, be the right person and get hired right away. The key for me is always your willingness to reach out and connect with people in person, through QuantNet, on LinkedIn and so on who can lead you not just to an opportunity but the right job for YOU, so you don't waste your time or the employer's time applying for jobs you don't want or aren't qualified for. I recommend that job-hunters spend a lot of time first doing what I call "exploratory" interviewing to find out what kinds of jobs you want to apply for and what companies you're interest in, and then once you've chosen, say, a top three, pursue those through informational interviewing---connecting with people to help review and tailor your resume, give you the insider lingo, and ultimately uncover concrete job opportunities for which you may apply. You should be using your program's resources (alumni, faculty, fellow students, career services), past employers, your community...beyond where you live by using social media to uncover leads in your area. I hope you've found a position or that this will be helpful now--keep me posted!
 

Ellen Reeves

Career Advisor
my friends wanted a job in quant finance..... There is a just problem. He may have a quantitative major but he comes from a non target. How would I advise him to get a quant internship?Where does he start?He attends baruch and if you can tell me where he can start;that would be very nice. Can he come talk to you as well?
Hello, Jetpotion. I am not sure what you mean by non-target. I would advise him to start by talking to students in Baruch's Quant program! They have been or are going through the process.
 

Jace Pack

New Member
Ms. Reeves,
Thank you for all of your input. My question is how I should be searching for a summer internship in an area like Reno at a school not well known for anything related to finance. Is an internship at a hedge fund more valuable than a bank? Thanks for your time
 

Ellen Reeves

Career Advisor
Ms. Reeves,
Thank you for all of your input. My question is how I should be searching for a summer internship in an area like Reno at a school not well known for anything related to finance. Is an internship at a hedge fund more valuable than a bank? Thanks for your time
Hi, Jace. If you have any sense of what you might want to do after you graduate, that should determine what kind of internship you apply for. If your goal is to work in a hedge fund, you should absolutely try to get an internship with one--preferably one that might hire you after you graduate! If you think you ultimately want to work in a bank, apply for bank internships. If you're not sure, please see my Nose Ring book and my posts on this site to learn more about exploratory interviewing, then informational interviewing and then how to use LinkedIn, for example, to connect with people who can help you figure out where you want to be and uncover internships for you. Thanks for reaching out and keep me posted!
 

vasilis

New Member
Ms. Reeves

I would like to ask your opinion in something, I know it should be uncommon but i just ask your general opinion into my problem.
I am an accounting and finance (4 year) major in a small european country, and i intent to go to a MFE/MSF my school offers, because i am interested in the matter and i want to pursuit even if my math background needs more work. Having that said, this program has good placement in the regional markets and modest in England (its better to have a British degree, but my program has some decent reputation)

In general, if i am good at my own work load and have some valid work experience in financial firms, will this counteract the fact that my program is more regional than international, in case i want to work in rest european market? (jobs, financial/quant analyst, risk manager, and so on )

Thanks for your time.
 

Ellen Reeves

Career Advisor
Vasilis, thanks for writing. I would say do whatever you can within your program to get as much European/International experience as possible: internships during the year (if you can) and in the summer at international companies, perhaps an independent study if you have room in your schedule on a topic relating more to the European market--and any time you have the choice of a topic for a project for a class, choose/create one applicable to the work you'd like to be doing or about the markets (s) of the country/ies you'd like to work in. Begin speaking NOW with people at the places you might like to work and ask their advice on courses and projects that would make you a good candidate for them eventually. People love to advise students so take advantage of your student status while you have it! Make sure you are reading the international/ European financial press daily so you are conversant in the issues that apply beyond your region and regional program. I hope this helps... keep me posted! Ellen
 

vasilis

New Member
Vasilis, thanks for writing. I would say do whatever you can within your program to get as much European/International experience as possible: internships during the year (if you can) and in the summer at international companies, perhaps an independent study if you have room in your schedule on a topic relating more to the European market--and any time you have the choice of a topic for a project for a class, choose/create one applicable to the work you'd like to be doing or about the markets (s) of the country/ies you'd like to work in. Begin speaking NOW with people at the places you might like to work and ask their advice on courses and projects that would make you a good candidate for them eventually. People love to advise students so take advantage of your student status while you have it! Make sure you are reading the international/ European financial press daily so you are conversant in the issues that apply beyond your region and regional program. I hope this helps... keep me posted! Ellen
Ms Reeves,

Thank you for answering my question so thoughtfully, you helped me a lot.
I wish you best in life.

Have a nice day
 
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