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CS PHD at Oxford looking for potential quant jobs

Hi,

So I am currently in third year of Oxford phd in CS, specialising in cybersecurity. I am skilled in Python and SQL and have experience as a penetration tester and systems administrator. I am well published in systems security.

I have applied to a number of quant researcher and trading intern positions this summer to attempt to get a quant role. I have over the past week or two applied to 30+ hedge funds, investment banks and market makers.

I have no finance experience but do a little bit of trading on my own account, own a bit of cryptocurrency, read the financial times each day and am interested in derivatives mostly.

Am i realistic in aiming for these roles?

What should I be doing to improve my chances of getting a quant/trader role on graduation?

Thanks
 
You are really late for intern roles for this summer unfortunately. I expect that many of the places that you applied to are nearly full by now and have a number of applicants already further in the interview process. The internship interviews will give you a good idea of how the graduate process is like - at my company they are very similar. You might want to brush up on probability and statistics. While a CS Ph.D. can help open doors, “skilled in Python and SQL” doesn’t get me excited. Quant roles might be difficult to get into if you neither bring very strong programming nor maths skills to the table.
 
You are really late for intern roles for this summer unfortunately. I expect that many of the places that you applied to are nearly full by now and have a number of applicants already further in the interview process. The internship interviews will give you a good idea of how the graduate process is like - at my company they are very similar. You might want to brush up on probability and statistics. While a CS Ph.D. can help open doors, “skilled in Python and SQL” doesn’t get me excited. Quant roles might be difficult to get into if you neither bring very strong programming nor maths skills to the table.
Fair enough. I'll see how those internship applications progress if i get any interviews and decide whether to just continue as a penetration tester or if there's something there with regards to being a quant. Doesn't Python and SQL programming skills count as strong programming skills? Have worked with databases at the scale of hundreds of gigabytes.
 
Python skills is not a distinguishing factor - more a requirement. Your competition for internship roles are STEM undergrads and most of them will tick that box - maybe with a bit less experience than you. In-depth knowledge of SQL is almost irrelevant these days. I likely work at one of the places you applied to as a quant and haven’t touched it in years.
 
Fair enough. Well done on getting that role. Wasn't aware quant work was a undergrad thing, thought they looked for STEM phds. Quite demoralising but thanks for taking the time to give me a realistic appraisal of my chances or lack thereof. :)
 
You wrote quant/trader. Most trading companies/market makers take on more trading interns than quant interns. For trading interns your competition is mostly undergrads - either after 2nd or 3rd year. Quants are indeed almost always Masters and PhDs. Maybe you didn’t market your skills well in the first post but it is not about just having a STEM PhD when it comes with only few transferable skills for the role. But that’s just my opinion and I don’t want to discourage you. Keep us posted how things went and good luck!
 
Ah okay. Interesting. That would probably partially explain why I was rejected from 2 dutch firms today for trading intern roles (maybe even yours), with them stating they were intended for undergraduate and masters students ;).

Good stuff, I suppose I have a pretty good profile in general but perhaps not so many transferable skills for a quant. We will see. Will let you know how it goes.

Thanks.
 

Daniel Duffy

C++ author, trainer
Most (?) PhD quants tend to be maths or physics. They are comfortable with all kinds of models.
And C++ is still blue chip I reckon.

In general, CS students tend to learn discrete maths/combinatorics and almost no hard analysis?(?) as a quant you need to know stochastics. PDE etc.
 
Not a stupid question. It is a hot topic and would be a worthwhile career. The idea of applying to these firms was spawned by a paper I am working on where I was able to predict stock price movements by various cybersecurity data sources . And i though there may be more of these inefficiencies in the market.

I was just very interested in learning more about finance for at least a summer. I have always been interested in this and I think a summer internship spent researching this could be fascinating and teach me whether or not I am able to do it as a career. At the very least it may make my amateur value investing more profitable and potentially improve my money management.

I also find derivatives very interesting as a concept.

As an update it appears I have been invited to do tests for two quant research roles for two top-tier firms last evening, with introductory tests in Python problem-solving and maths. I have an interesting CV and perhaps this is why they have invited me, rather than the raw skills ;), which are probably a bit lacking.
 
For what it's worth, got a reasonable amount of interview requests. All of the tests, pretty much without exception were in Python. I get C++ may be important or may have been important but I believe python is coming to prominence.
 
In fact, my time would be better spent learning algorithms than C++ and I think it would be the same for anyone looking to get into the field.
 
For what it's worth, got a reasonable amount of interview requests. All of the tests, pretty much without exception were in Python. I get C++ may be important or may have been important but I believe python is coming to prominence.
Hi approximately how long does it take for you to receive an interview? What kind of companies you applied to?
 
A lot got back within a month or so, a lot of rejections and no reply also. To be honest my CV is quite good for my field, computer security (not finance) . A lot will get back with hackerranks or things of that nature, which test your algorithms knowledge in Python. Mostly just googled ''top quant firms" and went from there.
 
Hackerrank, codility, leetcode tests can be done in any reasonably popular language, and mostly test knowledge of Algorithms and Data Structures.
Usually a test consists of a couple of problems to be solved in 1-2 hrs time overall.
You immediately get to know how good your solution is, in terms of test-cases passed.
Companies rank candidates by score, and will progress the best X rated to the next round of interviews, where X is a threshold they decided beforehand.
So it may happen to get rejected after a few months have passed, since more people will have taken the test, got better results and made you slip to position X+1 or worse.
Hence a perfect score at these tests is a good guarantee of getting through to the interview round.
 
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