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Career Dilemma

I am very confused lately about where to go in the future.

I am 21 years old, completed two bachelors, one in computer engineering and another one in applied economics at Queen's University in Canada. Since graduated 1 year and half ago, I have been working at a canadian bank doing model validation work in risk management group. So by April, I would have 2 years of working experience in a semi-quant group. My collegues are mostly Ph.D in econometrics and physics, I was hired based on my programming skills more than anything else.

Since last September, I have started an evening/weekend master program, Master of Finance at University of Toronto. The program director is John Hull, pretty much the only reason I went in it. It is not really a quant program, despite having Hohn Hull as the director. The program is more like a MBA that focused on finance.

So I started taking MFE courses from Columbia University through their CVN program. So far, I have done two courses, and taking two more this term.

In term of professional designations, I have my FRM, PRM (PRMIA), and working on my CFA.

I know I want to leave my current job after I graduated from the master program, perhaps even sooner. (Risk management is a bit boring, and slow for my type) But I am just not sure which field I should go into. I like math (I feel I am not very good at, but that maybe because I am surrounded by econ and math Ph.Ds), modelling, trading, and programming to certain extends. For a very long time, I have been thinking about prop trading desk, and hedge fund. but with this financial crisis, I am not sure about the future of those anymore. If prop trading and hedge fund got regulated and scale back, there probably won't be much demand for quants.

I am also debating if it is worthwhile to do a Ph.D. If a Ph.D, in what field? People have told me to do in finance at a top business school, but there are other told me I should do in a quant field like math, stats, or computer science.

My last confusion is about what a true quant job is like at a prop trading desk, hedge fund, or front desk? I virtually know no one in those field, all my friends went into ibanking and private equity, and I have always envied their lifestyle, intense but rewarding. Is quant as rewarding as people in PE and ibanking? When I read through the forum, I often get contrast answers, which caused even more confusion in my head.

Could someone help me with those questions?

Thanks in advances for all the helps I will get.

George
 
Comparing quants with PE/banking guys is not fair , they are two ends of spectrum.You must know which type of person you are...outgoing type,good at keeping faces and marketing yourself are the ones in PE.The second is one who values intelligence, mathematical ability - THE THINKER.
The thinker with good maths/programming skills goes to quant.
 
I guess my problem is that I like both aspect. I like be able to think and build models that work. (My favorite part of my current job) But I also like to have chance to interact with people instead of work alone (My most hate of aspect of current job) It seems that there isn't a field that might contain both aspects, or is there?
 

doug reich

Some guy
Just because you don't meet clients doesn't mean you work alone. Almost nowhere on Wall Street does one work alone; you're on a "desk" or in a "group" and it is generally around other people.
 
that would be good. Because my current job has minimum interaction between teammates. every project is assigned to one person. sometimes days goes by before I say a word to some co-workers. That really scared me for being a quant. I guess just my job is giving me the wrong impression of a quant.
 
I guess my problem is that I like both aspect. I like be able to think and build models that work. (My favorite part of my current job) But I also like to have chance to interact with people instead of work alone (My most hate of aspect of current job) It seems that there isn't a field that might contain both aspects, or is there?

Having both aspects is fine but you would want to leverage the stronger of your skills.You can have social life outside work or even at the work by making friends chatting in tea breaks/lunch breaks.

There is one job called structuring that is midway between quants and traders/sales guys that involves maths and communication skills.
 
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