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How many of you are Engineer turned Quants and are happy with your choice?

I'm just looking for a bit of advice here. I'm a EE student at the ETH-Zurich and have very good grades. The thing is I don't really love what I do, not that I hate it, I just haven't found any area of Electrical Engineering that I can really see myself working on for a longer amount of time. I have therefore been tinkering with the idea of Quantitative Finance for a while, but I just don't want to go into it and hate it. I read the book "My Life as a Quant" and pretty much ended up telling myself "that's not what I want to become". It's not the workload that I mind and I find the idea of modeling financial systems reasonably interesting in itself. What bothers me is that it seems to be a very unfulfilling job, as an engineer you at least get to create something, but the impression i got from "My Life as a Quant", was that you are just a glorified programmer; you don't get the feeling of truly working on a project in a team and no-one really gives you credit for what you do. The only upside is that it pays a lot, but when you compare yourself with the traders who work a floor above you, you still feel like you don't earn that much.

So, someone please tell me otherwise (or confirm what I wrote)..
 
A lot of people going to this degree because of the pay, let's be honest about it. Where else would some 24 yo kid with no previous work experience making 100K in his first real job?
Then if you look at the salary of everyone else, you will think you make less than them. This happens in every profession. Some people will never be happy with their salary.

Reading "My life as a Quant" to base your career on is like wanting to become a doctor after watching "ER". A lot of dirty, mundane work is not making into books and TV.
Did you ever read books about how some guys who hate his job as a quant?
I don't know if this line of work is for you but if you are not happy with the idea of a high paying, glorified programmer then it's a good indication you won't like it.
 
Thanks for the replies.

@Andy Nguyen, It's not the idea of a high paid glorified programmer that bothered me the most, it was more the lack of a team feeling. I talked to a guy who studies finance and he was telling me that "the quants" generally sit the whole day at their computers by themselves, just typing away. I think I need a job where I am part of a dynamic group, constantly working on different projects, where at the end of the day I can actually tell myself I've done something useful..

@DominiConnor, thats interesting. What did the majority of quants study?
 
Thats a very interesting thread for me. I'm thinking of studying EE but I don't know whether I relly want to do this job my whole life.
Being a quant could be better, because you are more involved in current economics and politics and you'll always have new challanges.

Does anybody know more about teamwork of quants?
Can you go to one of the 'banker parties'?
 
What bothers me is that it seems to be a very unfulfilling job, as an engineer you at least get to create something

Funny, thats how I felt when I was working as an engineer

I spent several years working as a design engineer. I would be hard pressed to say I ever created anything (The same holds true for my stints as a manufacturing/process and project engineer) - tho I did spend an awful lot of time alone in front of my computer spinning around 3D CAD models. In the auto industry there is a saying "make it better, faster, cheaper: pick any two" (Hint: things are seldom made better). Further, when you are a liability on the balance sheet, you tend to be treated like one - in North America, anyhow.

That said, I wouldn't trade my engineering experience for the world :)

I've found my time on Wall Street to be more fulfilling - though admittedly I'm a 'hybrid' quant. I proudly admit that I'm an hack at best but in true engineering form, given a reasonable amount of time and an internet connection,I am stubborn enough to smack around my compiler until it does what I want it to.

There are plenty of jobs out there where you won't become a glorified programmer.
 
Actually i did EE as well and worked in a semiconductor EDA firm for some time, designing software to create microchips. and i just did not enjoy it.. Then i somehow accidentally moved into designing software for a hedging software, thinking I might be working on an embedded systems research project to automate auto-drive for a car company. How I messed up and ended up in a finance related project is a whole different messed up story. But the bottom line is, I am very happy doing what I am doing now. To me it is like a treasure quest, where you are trying to establish relations/theories that are still not universally accepted; and that part is exciting. and to be honest, I think finance is much easier and less stressful than EE, at least for me. Looking back, I laugh how hard i used to struggle with micro-amperes and integrated circuits.
 
Funny, thats how I felt when I was working as an engineer

True, most engineering work today is programming/designing alone on the computer.

I've found my time on Wall Street to be more fulfilling - though admittedly I'm a 'hybrid' quant. I proudly admit that I'm an hack at best but in true engineering form, given a reasonable amount of time and an internet connection,I am stubborn enough to smack around my compiler until it does what I want it to.

LOL,this made me smile.The epitome of engineering, being hugely flexible and being able to get any job done :)
 
Another related question: With respect to job prospects in finance, do PhD graduates (engineering) have any specific advantages over engineers with a B.E/M.S. degree?
 
Another related question: With respect to job prospects in finance, do PhD graduates (engineering) have any specific advantages over engineers with a B.E/M.S. degree?

Hi Ctiger!

What do you mean in "specific"? Higher degree is always better when you hold it. But before applying, you should take into consideration the time constraints. If MFE, B.E. gives the same career opportunity after graduating then wasting time for PhD is not appropriate unless you are considering moving to the field where PhD is a MUST or most preferred like...research jobs (and not only). As for my understanding of "specific" advantage of PhD is that you might be a bit more privileged to move to the upper step with that degree compared with related degrees while being in the industry. <<--Note: I mean for non-research jobs where PhD is not a MUST. Rather related ones which can be done with masters degrees as well.
 
Another related question: With respect to job prospects in finance, do PhD graduates (engineering) have any specific advantages over engineers with a B.E/M.S. degree?

A PhD is a double edged sword.One should be very careful when he considers to try and go that route.

On the positive side you have:
1.Respectful degree.
2.Shows that you are serious and can commit to long term objectives.
3.Gives you a high level of knowledge in a specific area.

On the negative side you have:
1.Lack of job experience in all forms, relevant exp,being part of a cooperation exp,working under a strict boss and time tables etc.
2.The chance of using exactly what you did in your PhD which is usually a very small and focused subject in the job you want is very small.
3.The "perpetual student" syndrome , someone who have 4 years of B.Sc 2-3 years of M.Sc and 3-5 years of Ph.D knows only one thing and he can be seeing as a "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" and as someone who always looked for the shelter of the academia.

So basically I agree with Tstone, aim straight for the end goal and not to prolong the way in an unnecessary manner , if you want to be a quant switch to related fields, don't go and do a Physics/EE/Math Ph.D and then still need more learning which are oriented at your actual goal.
 
A PhD is a double edged sword.One should be very careful when he considers to try and go that route.

On the positive side you have:
1.Respectful degree.
2.Shows that you are serious and can commit to long term objectives.
3.Gives you a high level of knowledge in a specific area.

On the negative side you have:
1.Lack of job experience in all forms, relevant exp,being part of a cooperation exp,working under a strict boss and time tables etc.
2.The chance of using exactly what you did in your PhD which is usually a very small and focused subject in the job you want is very small.
3.The "perpetual student" syndrome , someone who have 4 years of B.Sc 2-3 years of M.Sc and 3-5 years of Ph.D knows only one thing and he can be seeing as a "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" and as someone who always looked for the shelter of the academia.

So basically I agree with Tstone, aim straight for the end goal and not to prolong the way in an unnecessary manner , if you want to be a quant switch to related fields, don't go and do a Physics/EE/Math Ph.D and then still need more learning which are oriented at your actual goal.

GREAT!
 

Daniel Duffy

C++ author, trainer
True, most engineering work today is programming/designing alone on the computer.

LOL,this made me smile.The epitome of engineering, being hugely flexible and being able to get any job done :)

Old programming adage: "if all else fails, read the documentation" :D
 
foges: Im in a similar situation; doing my undergrad in electronics and though I dont hate it, dont really see myself pursue any research oriented goals in the field and haven't found any specific field of interest. Please do share what you decide.
 
Actually i did EE as well and worked in a semiconductor EDA firm for some time, designing software to create microchips. and i just did not enjoy it.. Then i somehow accidentally moved into designing software for a hedging software, thinking I might be working on an embedded systems research project to automate auto-drive for a car company. How I messed up and ended up in a finance related project is a whole different messed up story. But the bottom line is, I am very happy doing what I am doing now. To me it is like a treasure quest, where you are trying to establish relations/theories that are still not universally accepted; and that part is exciting. and to be honest, I think finance is much easier and less stressful than EE, at least for me. Looking back, I laugh how hard i used to struggle with micro-amperes and integrated circuits.

I am an EDA person too and very much attracted towards the finance career.. I am heavily debating, whether the change is worth leaving a stable EDA job( atleast for nxt few yrs that I can foresee). I do like finance and I have MS degree with concentration in it. But not sure how to make a move... can I send you a private message to talk offline? Thank you...
 
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