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Columbia MFE Internship / job prospects at Columbia MFE

Hi all,

it seems that Columbia's MFE (financial engineering) program doesn't provide a lot of concrete placement information, unlike, say CMU MSCF. Does anyone have any insight into the level of difficulty of finding an internship or full time?

- Are there on-campus recruiting and networking events, or do people tend to have to cold call recruiters on LinkedIn or reach out by themselves?
- What percentage of students manage to get a reasonable internship in NYC / NY / North East US / US, especially for international students? Of those, what percentage got it using school resources?

Particularly interested in hearing from current / recent graduates. It would be great if you could share about your background, what position you were looking for, and how you searched for / obtained internships / full-time jobs.

Thanks!
 
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I spoke with Dr. Hirsa this morning and he informed me that many internships/jobs come from student interaction with industry practitioners that teach in the program. Of course, this was somewhat stinted due to Covid, but it seems likely (fingers crossed) that classes will be in person come fall. I also have a friend in the program who told me that students can ask to be assigned a mentor (a graduate of the program) which I’m sure potentially leads to help getting your foot in the door for interviews. I would reach out to either Dr. Hirsa or Dr. Derman and see if they can discuss more about the stats you’re looking for.
 
There are many firms doing on-campus events (on zoom for now), but in my experience I often ended up applying to the ones I was interested in before the on-campus events happened. I sent most of my applications around September-October, and some funds/banks only have the zoom sessions after that (some even only started now in Spring semester, after I got my internship offer). I don't know if waiting for the firms to come to the university would be a wise decision compared to applying on your own many months earlier.

The career team does push a lot of job listings your way through emails, though obviously these would include firms/sectors you're not interested in, so you'll have to filter them out. A lot of the big banks (JPM, GS, MS etc. and some European/Asian banks too) and buy-side firms (Citadel, 2 Sigma, AQR etc.) do send their job openings either through the career team's emails or the department's job portal, though I have no idea how many students will end up going to those big names. The career team also periodically asks you to send them your updated resume for the program's resume book, and personally I've gotten several interview invitations from these (from firms I've never applied on my own).

Many of my classmates that I know have secured an offer for this summer, some including me on the buy-side (prop trading and hedge funds), but I think more of us ended up going to banks. Keep in mind that due to covid classes are online so this sample space is quite small compared to the full size of the program (which I'm not even sure about - when I started in September we had around 60 people in the mandatory core courses, but some of my current classmates started in Spring).

@Qui-Gon is also correct that we have industry practitioners doing 1-2hr seminars roughly every 2 weeks (total of 4-5 per semester) and some of them did mention that if you're interested in doing an internship related to what they're doing you can contact them (I personally can't verify how many ended up getting an internship through this, I know none). There's also a mentorship program where you get introduced to a graduate from the program, I'm currently in touch with my assigned mentor to arrange for a call and possibly (safely) meet since they're also in NYC.

Of those, what percentage got it using school resources?
As for this specific question, I have no idea. Personally I got an offer from a hedge fund in Boston which came to do an on-campus zoom session (which I did not attend, but I applied through the program's job portal so I guess that counts?). For now I guess I have a positive impression of the program, though you should probably check back with me in 9 months when I actually graduate. :P
 
its solid. you need to put in work on what they give you before you even step on the campus. they have pre-program questionnaire, draft resume with sample department format, industry networking session, career coaching classes, practitioner session, mock interview, etc.

Simply rigorously following what Jenny Mak assigns to you should be sufficient to secure you a nice internship
 
There are many firms doing on-campus events (on zoom for now), but in my experience I often ended up applying to the ones I was interested in before the on-campus events happened. I sent most of my applications around September-October, and some funds/banks only have the zoom sessions after that (some even only started now in Spring semester, after I got my internship offer). I don't know if waiting for the firms to come to the university would be a wise decision compared to applying on your own many months earlier.

The career team does push a lot of job listings your way through emails, though obviously these would include firms/sectors you're not interested in, so you'll have to filter them out. A lot of the big banks (JPM, GS, MS etc. and some European/Asian banks too) and buy-side firms (Citadel, 2 Sigma, AQR etc.) do send their job openings either through the career team's emails or the department's job portal, though I have no idea how many students will end up going to those big names. The career team also periodically asks you to send them your updated resume for the program's resume book, and personally I've gotten several interview invitations from these (from firms I've never applied on my own).

Many of my classmates that I know have secured an offer for this summer, some including me on the buy-side (prop trading and hedge funds), but I think more of us ended up going to banks. Keep in mind that due to covid classes are online so this sample space is quite small compared to the full size of the program (which I'm not even sure about - when I started in September we had around 60 people in the mandatory core courses, but some of my current classmates started in Spring).

@Qui-Gon is also correct that we have industry practitioners doing 1-2hr seminars roughly every 2 weeks (total of 4-5 per semester) and some of them did mention that if you're interested in doing an internship related to what they're doing you can contact them (I personally can't verify how many ended up getting an internship through this, I know none). There's also a mentorship program where you get introduced to a graduate from the program, I'm currently in touch with my assigned mentor to arrange for a call and possibly (safely) meet since they're also in NYC.


As for this specific question, I have no idea. Personally I got an offer from a hedge fund in Boston which came to do an on-campus zoom session (which I did not attend, but I applied through the program's job portal so I guess that counts?). For now I guess I have a positive impression of the program, though you should probably check back with me in 9 months when I actually graduate. :P
Thank you for sharing! This is indeed super helpful. Does this mean that for Columbia MFEngineering, you are mostly finding jobs and interns on your own instead of having the college/career service people's help? You mentioned that companies come to campus recruiting kinda of late, and in this way students may have better chances applying themselves; may I ask do the companies usually come that late or it's just due to the covid?
Also, for the curriculum, if students have already completed similar courses before, can they have a placement and skip some of the courses? Can students select PhD level courses and courses from other schools that are not listed in the "approved electives" section?
Many thanks!
 
Thank you for sharing! This is indeed super helpful. Does this mean that for Columbia MFEngineering, you are mostly finding jobs and interns on your own instead of having the college/career service people's help? You mentioned that companies come to campus recruiting kinda of late, and in this way students may have better chances applying themselves; may I ask do the companies usually come that late or it's just due to the covid?
Also, for the curriculum, if students have already completed similar courses before, can they have a placement and skip some of the courses? Can students select PhD level courses and courses from other schools that are not listed in the "approved electives" section?
Many thanks!
Not sure if it's due to covid or not, I just joined last fall semester. Some of them come or post job listings very early (as early as August, if I recall correctly), some others come later. Honestly I just apply for the job and skip most of the employer sessions, most of the time they just go through general info about their companies/programs which you can find online, and even if you have specific questions to ask them, there will probably be a queue of people "raising hands" on zoom and it's up to luck whether you get picked or not. I would just ask them straight through email. Maybe I'm just bad at networking or making impressions, but I haven't been to a single employer zoom session where I feel like I've obtained an advantage over those who just apply through the job board without joining the zoom.

As for the curriculum, better send an email to the admission team directly, they should be able to direct you to the correct person in the academic team to help you. I understand that there are PhD level courses that (if I remember correctly) you need to get advisor approval to take. I believe the same applies to non-approved electives from other schools, but you still need a certain minimum number of credits to be from the IEOR department to complete the MSFE degree (the 6 mandatory core courses already give you 18 out of the 36 you need to graduate so that shouldn't be an issue).
 
Not sure if it's due to covid or not, I just joined last fall semester. Some of them come or post job listings very early (as early as August, if I recall correctly), some others come later. Honestly I just apply for the job and skip most of the employer sessions, most of the time they just go through general info about their companies/programs which you can find online, and even if you have specific questions to ask them, there will probably be a queue of people "raising hands" on zoom and it's up to luck whether you get picked or not. I would just ask them straight through email. Maybe I'm just bad at networking or making impressions, but I haven't been to a single employer zoom session where I feel like I've obtained an advantage over those who just apply through the job board without joining the zoom.

As for the curriculum, better send an email to the admission team directly, they should be able to direct you to the correct person in the academic team to help you. I understand that there are PhD level courses that (if I remember correctly) you need to get advisor approval to take. I believe the same applies to non-approved electives from other schools, but you still need a certain minimum number of credits to be from the IEOR department to complete the MSFE degree (the 6 mandatory core courses already give you 18 out of the 36 you need to graduate so that shouldn't be an issue).
Thank you! Could you share a little about your background, what position you were looking for, and perhaps the ratio of interviews out of job applications if it is not too much to ask (the ratio of interviews out of applications for what you think average student in this program is good too)?
 
Thank you! Could you share a little about your background, what position you were looking for, and perhaps the ratio of interviews out of job applications if it is not too much to ask (the ratio of interviews out of applications for what you think average student in this program is good too)?
BS and MS in maths from a Singapore university, 3 years of work in hedge fund research/database. I'm mostly looking for quant research roles (my programming background isn't very strong so it'd be hard to get into quant developer roles).

As for ratio of interviews, I don't keep track of it, and since I got my offer relatively early, a lot of them got back to me after I've accepted the earlier offer formally. Many of the top names on the buy-side (Citadel, DE Shaw, Jane Street, Two Sigma) rejected me before any call/interview though, probably because of my pretty low (3.4) undergrad GPA and lack of relevant work/project experience. Most of this happened during the first semester at Columbia so you don't have a GPA from the program yet. Hopefully if I can maintain a high GPA through the first two semesters that'd help for full-time job search.
 
I spoke with Dr. Hirsa this morning and he informed me that many internships/jobs come from student interaction with industry practitioners that teach in the program. Of course, this was somewhat stinted due to Covid, but it seems likely (fingers crossed) that classes will be in person come fall. I also have a friend in the program who told me that students can ask to be assigned a mentor (a graduate of the program) which I’m sure potentially leads to help getting your foot in the door for interviews. I would reach out to either Dr. Hirsa or Dr. Derman and see if they can discuss more about the stats you’re looking for.
Hi, thanks for sharing! May I ask how you reached Dr.Hirsa or Dr.Derman? I have sent an email to Dr.Hirsa's Columbia email but haven't heard back for quite some time.
 
Hi, thanks for sharing! May I ask how you reached Dr.Hirsa or Dr.Derman? I have sent an email to Dr.Hirsa's Columbia email but haven't heard back for quite some time.
He actually called me -- I would give him a call and if he doesn't answer just leave a brief message introducing yourself as an admitted student and then explain your reason for reaching out. His email inbox is likely packed and so I would bet he simply overlooked it.
 
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