Australian student at a crossroad in his education/career. Any advice or feedback is very much appreciated.

Hey Everyone,

I am 20 years old (just turned) and I’m from Australia. I’ve always been really maths inclined, but my family have made me pursue a bachelor of commerce with a double major in business law and finance. My finance units are pretty good but my law units have really tanked my grades and my overall gpa is a 5.00/7, equivalent to a 2.9. I can probably bring my GPA up to 3.1ish by the end of the year.

I have a lot of personal projects and experience trading and I have solid trading knowledge, I.e options Greeks, spreads, commodities crop reports, etc. In fact the NYSE trades from 930 onwards over here so I stay awake till 2am pretty much every work day trying and testing methods. My math skills are also very sound.

I am stuck at a crossroads because my parents are now giving me freedom to choose my pathway. I really want to become a quant trader (NOT a researcher), and I figure that I have 2 pathways.

First, I could apply for a graduate position at Optiver (which is in Sydney). If I get rejected I can do a masters in financial or quantitative mathematics at an Aussie university and try to get in to Optiver again. Also this is australia, so there isn’t very many extracurriculars or internships or a big trading field, Optivers about the only one here.

Or I can try to do a masters in financial mathematics IN AMERICA, straight out of undergraduate and then try to pursue a quant trading career in Optiver, Jane Stret, etc in America. I really want to go and trade in America, but I fear that my lower GPA and being an international student basically blocks my chances from getting into any financial or mathematics courses in top universities in America.

Does anyone have any recommendations of any American degrees or universities that I could stand a chance of successfully applying to which would help me become a quant trader in America. (Tuition fees are no issue, I’ll find money, the degree is more important haha)

Also, is there any way I could increase my chances of getting into an American program. I am willing to do the GRE, and I can get a really high grade in the GRE if that’s necessary.

I thank everyone for reading this and giving any feedback or guidance - brutally honest feedback is good.
 
What is your finance only GPA, i.e. excluding your business law courses? What math courses have you taken? Any programming? Many people say they are good at math and then they take linear algebra...

Assuming you've done the standard mathematical prerequesites and have some programming coursework under your belt -- or are willing to beef up your programming in the case you have sparse experience (given $ does not seem to be a concern, if you have not proven yourself with programming I recommend you check out the intro C++ course here on QN) -- the fact that you have done several personal projects related to finance should make your profile attractive to at least one of the top 6/7 programs here in the U.S.
 
My Finance only GPA is 3.6. I haven't done many maths courses, these are the more relevant ones: Trading in Securities Market, Quantitative Methods for Finance, Financial Planning, Corporate Financial Policy, Economics and Business Statistics (Low Level Unit) & Introduction to Finance.

To put my math skills into context - I was in the top 2% for mathematics (calculus, 3d vectors and vector calculus, statistics & game theory, etc) in Australia during high school, and overall graduated in the top 1% of Australia - it was mainly my disdain for my university course that led to worse grades.
 
Okay to be honest, if your goal is to get into optiver/jane street in America then a top MFE program is not really going to do anything (and getting in the program should be the least of your concerns - the bar to get into top MFE programs is honestly a lot lower than the bar to get into a top quant firm). For example if you look at: Employment Statistics - Master of Science in Computational Finance - Carnegie Mellon University , no one placed in the firms you were mentioning (there is 1 HRT for internship and 1 two sigma for full time though and I don't think Optiver was sponsoring international students for internship this yr).

If you want brutally honest feedback: Commerce/Business Law/Finance is not really their perferred degree, a GPA of 2.9 would get you instantly cut off (I seen internal hiring documents of a fairly small hedge fund), being math inclined is good but is there any proof of you being exceptional in math (putnam/IMO etc.), personal projects are good for learning but won't really help you land an internship, its tough for companies to gauge how experienced you are in trading unless it was a trading internship at a reputable firm, even if you have solid trading knowledge this does not directly help you land the interview and the focus of the interview at these firms is more tricky DP/optimal way to win this game they made up rather than trading, doing very well in GRE is not really impressive I seen many 170Q/167 + Verbal scores. This might all sound pessimistic but the reality is landing quant trading in these top firms is pretty brutal especially if your profile is not op
 
Okay to be honest, if your goal is to get into optiver/jane street in America then a top MFE program is not really going to do anything (and getting in the program should be the least of your concerns - the bar to get into top MFE programs is honestly a lot lower than the bar to get into a top quant firm). For example if you look at: Employment Statistics - Master of Science in Computational Finance - Carnegie Mellon University , no one placed in the firms you were mentioning (there is 1 HRT for internship and 1 two sigma for full time though and I don't think Optiver was sponsoring international students for internship this yr).

If you want brutally honest feedback: Commerce/Business Law/Finance is not really their perferred degree, a GPA of 2.9 would get you instantly cut off (I seen internal hiring documents of a fairly small hedge fund), being math inclined is good but is there any proof of you being exceptional in math (putnam/IMO etc.), personal projects are good for learning but won't really help you land an internship, its tough for companies to gauge how experienced you are in trading unless it was a trading internship at a reputable firm, even if you have solid trading knowledge this does not directly help you land the interview and the focus of the interview at these firms is more tricky DP/optimal way to win this game they made up rather than trading, doing very well in GRE is not really impressive I seen many 170Q/167 + Verbal scores. This might all sound pessimistic but the reality is landing quant trading in these top firms is pretty brutal especially if your profile is not op
Thank you so much for a thorough and straightforward response. I am pretty aware that my undergrad degree is not really worth much, which is why I've kept the option open to do a master's program. If not an MFE, what kind of a degree would be more appropriate for quantitative trading - like an MCIT?
 
This is not true - IMC, Akuna, SIG, Maven, ... are all international trading firms hiring in Sydney.
Sorry - for context, I mean that IMC, Akuna and Maven all have a pretty big lean towards compsci/programming whereas optiver (I have heard) are abit more open-ended, your degree is not as relevant so long as you can suffice their maths tests/requirements.
 
Sorry - for context, I mean that IMC, Akuna and Maven all have a pretty big lean towards compsci/programming whereas optiver (I have heard) are abit more open-ended, your degree is not as relevant so long as you can suffice their maths tests/requirements.
They are all generally open to Finance graduates, though I agree that most of their graduates come from STEM degrees. The interviews typically require a working knowledge of probability and statistics that pure Finance graduates tend to struggle with. Your GPA is likely an issue in the first-round filter. I agree that MFEs are not the main target groups for graduate traders. The advantage of doing a Masters is that you get a chance to reset your GPA. I haven't heard about MCIT but looking at a few curricula it seems quite soft to me. Do you qualify for a Masters in Actuarial Science or Econometrics?
 
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They are all generally open to Finance graduates, though I agree that most of their graduates come from STEM degrees. The interviews typically require a working knowledge of probability and statistics that pure Finance graduates tend to struggle with. Your GPA is likely an issue in the first-round filter. I agree that MFEs are not the main target groups for graduate traders. The advantage of doing a Masters is that you get a chance to reset your GPA. I haven't heard about MCIT but looking at a few curricula it seems quite soft to me. Do you qualify for a Masters in Actuarial Science or Econometrics?
The MCIT is a masters of computer and information technology. It’s basically a masters in computer science but for those with no prior computer science experience.

Yep, I think my best shot is definitely getting a Masters to reset my GPA. The reason why I was leaning to a masters in finance program was that in America, a lot of the financial mathematics degree’s (e.g Uchicago mfe) are apparently well respected for becoming a trader (Atleast a lot of people on LinkedIn have a similair degree - I may be mistaken though). I can qualify for econometrics yeap.
 
An update - apparently the conversion scaling is really wierd so my gpa would be closer to a 3.3 and I can bring it up to 3.5 by the end of the year. I guess that changes things haha 😅
 
An update - apparently the conversion scaling is really wierd so my gpa would be closer to a 3.3 and I can bring it up to 3.5 by the end of the year. I guess that changes things haha 😅
Well in the end you have an Australian degree and want to apply to Australian companies. So GPA conversion isn't super relevant. They will be looking for either high distinction or very high distinction averages, the more so for degrees that are rather on the softer end of what they consider.
 
Hey Everyone,

I am 20 years old (just turned) and I’m from Australia. I’ve always been really maths inclined, but my family have made me pursue a bachelor of commerce with a double major in business law and finance. My finance units are pretty good but my law units have really tanked my grades and my overall gpa is a 5.00/7, equivalent to a 2.9. I can probably bring my GPA up to 3.1ish by the end of the year.

I have a lot of personal projects and experience trading and I have solid trading knowledge, I.e options Greeks, spreads, commodities crop reports, etc. In fact the NYSE trades from 930 onwards over here so I stay awake till 2am pretty much every work day trying and testing methods. My math skills are also very sound.

I am stuck at a crossroads because my parents are now giving me freedom to choose my pathway. I really want to become a quant trader (NOT a researcher), and I figure that I have 2 pathways.

First, I could apply for a graduate position at Optiver (which is in Sydney). If I get rejected I can do a masters in financial or quantitative mathematics at an Aussie university and try to get in to Optiver again. Also this is australia, so there isn’t very many extracurriculars or internships or a big trading field, Optivers about the only one here.

Or I can try to do a masters in financial mathematics IN AMERICA, straight out of undergraduate and then try to pursue a quant trading career in Optiver, Jane Stret, etc in America. I really want to go and trade in America, but I fear that my lower GPA and being an international student basically blocks my chances from getting into any financial or mathematics courses in top universities in America.

Does anyone have any recommendations of any American degrees or universities that I could stand a chance of successfully applying to which would help me become a quant trader in America. (Tuition fees are no issue, I’ll find money, the degree is more important haha)

Also, is there any way I could increase my chances of getting into an American program. I am willing to do the GRE, and I can get a really high grade in the GRE if that’s necessary.

I thank everyone for reading this and giving any feedback or guidance - brutally honest feedback is good.
I would bet you are going to need a graduate education in STEM to breach some of those quant trading positions. I am not sure how the university application process of someone coming from non STEM to STEM will be. All of my classmates are in math/physics/engineering.
Maybe pick up a book recommended for financial math and see if you can follow it. I know you stated that you are mathematically inclined, but the difference between highschool and graduate math is incredible. The math that you listed are really the basic building blocks of graduate math. The classes you will take assume that you understand these topics.
You may have an easier time breaking into some surface level data science roles that you might possibly be able to use (with a STEM graduate education) to leverage into a quant role. You may want to relax the expectations for Jane Street and likewise - that is quite literally shooting for the stars.
 
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