# In a bit of despair...

#### IlyaKEightSix

I seem to have come to a rut.

My university seems utterly clueless as to what to do with financial engineering students, and even with alumni help, I still can't find any finance job, let alone some form of junior quant job.

Here's where I stand:

Over the course of my undergraduate education, I've completed quite a good portion of Lehigh University's MFE program (called analytical finance here), with the big gap being stochastic calculus (which I've waited for two years for and then got kicked out from sitting in due to logistical reasons).

My cumulative GPA is 3.23, major is 3.43, and my GREs are 770 Q (88%), 590 V (78%), and 5 analytical writing.

To my plus side is the fact that I've consistently challenged myself and know what I want to do and probably have several professors that would write me a very good to outright excellent recommendation.

I also know that Emanuel Derman stated in interviews that he believes a successful FE would have a quantitative undergraduate degree, a couple of years work experience, and then a master's degree. But in this environment, try as I may, and work with career services as I may, I keep getting flattened into walls.

I've tried alumni at Goldman Sachs (who are in the best shape of the big financial houses), I've tried posting in my university's alumni group on LinkedIn (which was how I got my last phone interview which I got rejected from just Thursday despite the alumni I spoke with being completely sold on me), and now I tried applying cold turkey to Susquehana and TwoSigma. (fat chance).

I'm really running out of ideas here. On Baruch's stat radar, it seems I'm bottom of the barrel on the acceptance scale (non 800 GRE quant, mediocre GPA), if not an outright reject given the consistent improvements in applicant quality and the current economic situation.

So what exactly is someone graduating in spring 2009 supposed to do? Any help of course is greatly appreciated.

#### Eugene Krel

##### sunmulA
Have you considered being something other than a quant at Goldman Sachs?

#### IlyaKEightSix

Well you can only apply to two positions at a time, so I applied to GSAM QRG and Securities Trading, since FICC is part of that division, which is where the questionnaire told me I would "fit best" (which I filled out many times).

And then I applied to a position called management and strategy analyst from Lehigh's career portal.

And of course I've considered it, but there's no way I can actually officially apply.

So right now, my portfolio consists of being long on hope, and short on interviews and ideas. That's a losing combination.

#### Mathew

Well there is always the old fashioned way of cold calling prospective companies and sending them your resume.

#### IlyaKEightSix

Cold call *which* prospective companies?

All of the "quant" jobs I see want some sort of crazy Ivy League comp sci entry level or bar that, 5 years of experience.

If I knew that I would need to be a master programmer back in HS, I would have signed on for some computer science classes or started learning some programming posthaste. Now, I can only brush up on C++ through an Absolute C++ 2E book I torrented.

And any other finance jobs look like accounting more than anything else. And I barely lasted 12 weeks at my actuarial internship because I was nearly bored out of my mind.

All of the "quant" jobs I see want some sort of crazy Ivy League comp sci entry level or bar that, 5 years of experience.

And any other finance jobs look like accounting more than anything else. And I barely lasted 12 weeks at my actuarial internship because I was nearly bored out of my mind.

Quant finance is probably going through a seismic upheaval at the moment. If it does survive, it will be far smaller than what it has been in the recent past. I've consistently been singing this same dirge on this forum for months. Which suggests quant employment has become a buyer's market, and many people with stellar academic records and strong experience are chasing a few jobs. You may yet still get lucky and land your dream job. But I wouldn't bet on it. Think of some contingency plan, perhaps. Something possibly outside of finance altogether.

#### Andy Nguyen

Cold call *which* prospective companies?
There are literally hundreds of lesser known banks, hedge funds, financial services company you can apply to. Be flexible with locations. There may be some jobs in DC, PA, NJ, Midwest, etc.
And I barely lasted 12 weeks at my actuarial internship because I was nearly bored out of my mind.
It doesn't mean you won't get bored in another job.
Look at the bright side. At least now you can take some extended vacation with family without looking bad. That's what a lot of Wall Street people are doing anyway.
If nothing works, maybe look for another line of work.

#### IlyaKEightSix

Look at the bright side. At least now you can take some extended vacation with family without looking bad. That's what a lot of Wall Street people are doing anyway.

Andy...

My mom barely makes ends meet by teaching piano. And I wouldn't wish enough ill upon anyone else to know my dad.

As for the lesser known banks, hedge funds, fin services, etc. etc...it seems all of the quant jobs I look at want at least an MSc with some nosebleed GPA if not a PhD, and that's for those with 0 experience. The rest is 2-3 or 5+ years experience, which auto-DQs me.

Right now, I need to find a position at a company which values me for my quantitative aptitude and desire to learn, rather than as another grunt. If you know where I can get a list of these smaller companies, that would be phenomenal, and I'd be extremely grateful.

I'm not looking to make a killing right now--but just to be able to get into the industry and gain relevant experience to what I wish to do.

#### const451

Ilya, you have to do some leg work, finding a job is a full time job.

Find out about local banks and financial services companies in South and Mid West. They ALL have quantitative projects; many of them are not hit by crisis as much as mega banks. A friend of mine just got a job in Mid West. Location sucks, pay is okay, but the project is interesting.

#### IlyaKEightSix

South and Midwest? Quant work? I'm trying to find something in Chicago or SF as well (wish I knew of anyone looking down in Dallas/Houston), but my school doesn't really advertise those positions at all since we're in east PA 1 hour north of Philly.

The problem is that Lehigh has no placement for its analytical finance students, and the professors themselves have little connection to Wall Street. Meaning the entire $50,000 program is a waste. Right now, it seems as though I'll have no choice but to apply to a master's program without any cash in my bank account except$1000 and hope that my enrolling in MFE courses and hacking some C++ in my spare time will be enough to offset a my subpar GPA and GRE scores.

And judging by Baruch's admission statistics, unless the recommendations I can get are stellar (my MFE professor will write me one of those I can be almost assured), then my chances are laughable.

The problem is this, though:

As Dominic Conor said, gaps on resumes are fatal. That's why I'm so worried.

#### Eugene Krel

##### sunmulA
have you considered re-taking the GRE and getting an 800 on the math section? I wouldn't put all my eggs in one basket by pinning all my hopes on getting into a respectable master's program if I were you.

Note that the people on this thread have all tried to give you constructive replies, and you simply come up with excuses not to look into their advice.

This may not be obvious to you yet, but complaining about your situation on the internet is very likely not helping you in the short run or the long run as far as a job search goes.

#### IlyaKEightSix

I've given it a thought. I may do that. But as I said, due to my financial circumstances, I am honestly doing my best to avoid the master's route altogether.

#### Andy Nguyen

To sum it up
You can't afford the 50K-100K tuition for most of the MFE programs out there. Of the least expensive out there, you still have to pay $18K at Baruch. That is assuming you make it to one of these programs. So taking$50K loan to pay for your MFE with no sure job prospect is not your cup of tea.
How about doing something that pays the bill now?
Stick with actuary for the next few years and save money while learning financial engineering on your free time.
You obvious give actuarial career no thought but isn't that the only thing you have to hang your hat right now?
How about teaching, taking some sort of programming job?
When you feel a bit of despair, know that there are others worse off and they made it. See this movie

As Dominic Conor said, gaps on resumes are fatal. That's why I'm so worried.

These comments from DC applied a couple of years back. There are now people with impeccable resumes and stellar academic records vainly pounding the pavements looking for gainful employment. The situation is very fluid at the moment and mostly changing for the worse. Yet your thinking remains fixed and impervious to changing realities. People are grateful for any kind of job these days. An article in the NYT:

"They are saying, 'There are no jobs, no one is hiring,' or if someone is hiring they are not getting enough hours to support their families or themselves," said Sgt. First Class Phillip Lee, 41, the senior recruiter in the Army office in Bridgeport, Conn.

Just a few months ago, Guy Derenoncourt was working as an equity trader at a boutique investment firm in New York. Then the equity market fell apart and he quit.

Last week, he enlisted for a four-year stint in the Navy, a military branch he chose because it would keep him out of Afghanistan and offer him a variety of aviation-related jobs.

Or take a look at this CBS video on the mushrooming of tent cities -- a la Great Depression style -- in major US cities. This is the America of today. It explains why employers are insisting on nose-bleed GPAs -- it's because the market is more than amply supplied with well-qualified job-seekers, all aiming for the relatively few vacancies that exist. The old rules have been consigned to the dustbin. One's first priority in these circumstances is probably to gain any sort of gainful employment so as to keep the wolf from the door. Forget the nonsense about job satisfaction and career. Reach for your revolver if anyone mentions this specious nonsense.

If you can get a job as a trainee actuary, jump at it. There are people who would cheerfully trade one of their kidneys for the opportunity.

#### IlyaKEightSix

To sum it up
You can't afford the 50K-100K tuition for most of the MFE programs out there. Of the least expensive out there, you still have to pay $18K at Baruch. That is assuming you make it to one of these programs. So taking$50K loan to pay for your MFE with no sure job prospect is not your cup of tea.
How about doing something that pays the bill now?
Stick with actuary for the next few years and save money while learning financial engineering on your free time.
You obviously give actuarial career no thought but isn't that the only thing you have to hang your hat right now?
How about teaching, taking some sort of programming job?
When you feel a bit of despair, know that there are others worse off and they made it. See this movie

I'd love a programming position. I'm not sure how qualified I am, but I'm relearning (or should I say...learning) C++ through Savitch's Absolute CPP, and I'm on chapter 7.

I'd also love to, rather than being a math teacher in a classroom, to develop some sort of DVD that can be mass distributed across the country. After all, I'm sure there's some benchmark as to where children of a certain age have to be in terms of their mathematical development.

As for actuarial: I entered that field looking for math, problem solving, and brainiacs. I thought that with the kinds of exams they took, actuaries were the risk managers at Goldman Sachs. I found spreadsheet editing and paperwork. I realized that actuarial science had nothing to do with Wall Street. I left.

BBW: the thing is, if I'm not doing something I like, my work quality suffers. This is why I can ace a high level optimization models course while I get a C+ in basic macroeconomics.

That said, I am now refining my job searches to include C++. Programming seems to be therapeutic for me nowadays that I appreciate what it means to be able to program now.

#### const451

South and Midwest? Quant work? I'm trying to find something in Chicago or SF as well (wish I knew of anyone looking down in Dallas/Houston), but my school doesn't really advertise those positions at all since we're in east PA 1 hour north of Philly.

Here you go:
Industry Browser - Financial - Regional - Midwest Banks Industry - Company List

Or, something like that:
Columbia, South Carolina SC - Banks

Look at career opportunities on each website and send them your resume. There is a good chance you will find something - it is much better chance than finding a job in NYC, Chicago, SF, Boston, etc. It is better to work right now until it'll be clear where finance is going; it will also give time to MFE programs to adjust their curriculum.

BBW: the thing is, if I'm not doing something I like, my work quality suffers. This is why I can ace a high level optimization models course while I get a C+ in basic macroeconomics.

You're probably not going to want to hear this -- I certainly didn't when I was just out of college -- but you're supposed to be miserable in your 20s. Your 20s are the decade when you're supposed to take some crappy job you don't really want while trying desperately to figure out what the hell you're supposed to do with your life. It sucks, but trust me, it gets better. It really does. You just need to get through this part first.

Take that crappy job somewhere that is, at best, tangentially related to the field you want to get into. You don't need to love your job. You just need to do it. As long as you can pay your bills and maintain some hobbies (like, say, brushing up your programming skills, or reading through MFE textbooks, or learning Argentine tango, or taking improv comedy classes) I guarantee you, by the time you're thirty, everything will have worked out fine. Remember, if you get your dream job at 22, you'll have nowhere to go from there but down.

#### JRUDP

This times are unusual so I truely think you're not the only one that the economy is affecting to (and I can also include the Ivys). So patience and as someone said before, looking for a job is a job.

Haven't you thought about working as a Research Assistant with one of your top professors on the FE area.

I think that could be better than nothing while you find a job, plus if you do good research, you can balance your "not so perfect" credentials. Could be an alternative. Low cost, High potential profits

#### IlyaKEightSix

I'll actually have to find out whether or not I can do some form of research stint here (above what I'm already scheduled to do this semester...3 credits worth of blue-sky FE research for an above and beyond undergrad) if I can't find work. But I think that's PhD only >_<. But I'll find out.

#### Stefan Zota

I would advise to apply to a serious grad-school program. It does not need to be MFE.
It can be in Finance, Applied Math, Computer Science. The program needs to be a real challenge, prepare you for hard-work. If you want to pursue an MFE eventually, that is what you should expect.

Also, don't worry about applying immediately to quant finance programs. You have plenty of time to do that later.

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