Lawyer quits his job and wants to become technical. Is he being foolish?

What to do?

  • Do an MBA (and perhaps try tilting towards more technical roles)

    Votes: 2 25.0%
  • Follow your passion and do a technical degree (CS or otherwise)

    Votes: 6 75.0%
  • Neither

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    8
  • Poll closed .
So, here is my situation. I am 29, from Europe, lawyer in structured finance, MBA admit at London Business School. I always had a knack for math and logic, but family reasons led me to study law as undergrad, the #1 decision I most deeply regret in my life till now. I thought that doing an MBA would help me rebalance my profile towards a more quantitative job, whatever that may mean. But as time passes by, I am reconsidering whether doing an MBA would satisfy my thirst for technical knowledge. I quit my job this January to study some math (Rudin's intro to real analysis) and programming (Harvard's CS50), and I get tremendous satisfaction from this intellectual journey. Suddenly, I am torn between choosing a safer path that is more suitable to my career track until now (an MBA) and a seemingly riskier path that is more satisfactory to my intellectual interests ( reject the MBA offer and apply for next year for a CS masters for non-CS-majors).

I am very well aware that I am very far behind the curve, or that I may be too old to learn hard math concepts, but would really appreciate anyone's 2cents regarding my situation. I know this is a forum for quants in finance, but any advice that extends beyond finance (into tech) is welcome too.

1) Given my resolve to further improve my programming skills in the next two years, would a combination of MBA + programming (C and Python) be of any use to any job? If yes, what roles?

2) Do you think that it is too late to do such a hard pivot? Any pitfalls if I decide to drop the MBA and pursue a quantitative subject?

3) Any other advice?
 
CS is pretty broad (Software, data science…) what are you interested in? I still hear of people who learn to code online and landed tech jobs in start ups, so thats a route.

I would not consider a MBA a route for a technical job, just one mans opinion though.
 
MBA degree will take you very far away from a technical role as you are not from a tech background. I think you will need a STEM degree for a technical role. Which degree and what specialisations will totally depend on what you are passionate about (I voted for option 2). If you are running out of time, math + computer science will be a good option.
 
CS is pretty broad (Software, data science…) what are you interested in?
Not sure, but I'd say distributed systems or NLP.
MBA degree will take you very far away from a technical role as you are not from a tech background. I think you will need a STEM degree for a technical role. Which degree and what specialisations will totally depend on what you are passionate about (I voted for option 2). If you are running out of time, math + computer science will be a good option.
How do you think I should go about applying for these degrees? I am sure AdComs will read me profile and wonder...
 
Not sure, but I'd say distributed systems or NLP.

How do you think I should go about applying for these degrees? I am sure AdComs will read me profile and wonder...
Why don’t you learn coding in 2-3 months and try to land a tech role, any role will do, any basic coding stuff would be good. I believe that some people in the US did this during the quarantine, they learned how to code, applied for 1000s of opportunities and jumped to tech. If you are in a India, you are out of luck, but in a country like US where there is a massive demand for tech talent, you’ll be able to land a tech role.

After that, with some experience you can apply to a MS CS or related program. You cannot get in without knowing anything. Showing this in your CV will prove that you are really determined and wanted a change.
 
So, here is my situation. I am 29, from Europe, lawyer in structured finance, MBA admit at London Business School. I always had a knack for math and logic, but family reasons led me to study law as undergrad, the #1 decision I most deeply regret in my life till now. I thought that doing an MBA would help me rebalance my profile towards a more quantitative job, whatever that may mean. But as time passes by, I am reconsidering whether doing an MBA would satisfy my thirst for technical knowledge. I quit my job this January to study some math (Rudin's intro to real analysis) and programming (Harvard's CS50), and I get tremendous satisfaction from this intellectual journey. Suddenly, I am torn between choosing a safer path that is more suitable to my career track until now (an MBA) and a seemingly riskier path that is more satisfactory to my intellectual interests ( reject the MBA offer and apply for next year for a CS masters for non-CS-majors).

I am very well aware that I am very far behind the curve, or that I may be too old to learn hard math concepts, but would really appreciate anyone's 2cents regarding my situation. I know this is a forum for quants in finance, but any advice that extends beyond finance (into tech) is welcome too.

1) Given my resolve to further improve my programming skills in the next two years, would a combination of MBA + programming (C and Python) be of any use to any job? If yes, what roles?

2) Do you think that it is too late to do such a hard pivot? Any pitfalls if I decide to drop the MBA and pursue a quantitative subject?

3) Any other advice?
Quant/Math and tech are very different fields. Do you want to quant or do you want to tech? Being in tech or software engineering, you'd do very little quant or none at all.

Working in distributed systems and working in NLP takes very different skills and expertise.

It is my experience that people generally don’t work in actual machine learning unless they are phds. So if this is something you’re open to pursue, ML is a wonderful field which utilities holistic skills in quant, coding and data.

If not a phd, and you are interested in math and coding both, then you can find quant jobs in finance that leverages both. You can pivot your mba in finance and go after those.

If you are really interested in programming and want to work in software engineering, you can take a grad course in CS.

As someone said above, you should get certifications in these fields. That’ll make your application better and give perspective on how work is in these areas. You can also try to do internships or freelance projects if you are interested and have the time on your hand.
 
Quant/Math and tech are very different fields. Do you want to quant or do you want to tech? Being in tech or software engineering, you'd do very little quant or none at all.

Working in distributed systems and working in NLP takes very different skills and expertise.

It is my experience that people generally don’t work in actual machine learning unless they are phds. So if this is something you’re open to pursue, ML is a wonderful field which utilities holistic skills in quant, coding and data.

If not a phd, and you are interested in math and coding both, then you can find quant jobs in finance that leverages both. You can pivot your mba in finance and go after those.

If you are really interested in programming and want to work in software engineering, you can take a grad course in CS.

As someone said above, you should get certifications in these fields. That’ll make your application better and give perspective on how work is in these areas. You can also try to do internships or freelance projects if you are interested and have the time on your hand.

You’re right. An MBA at LBS can be tilted towards Quant. My previous manager at a satrt-up told me that he studied stochal during MBA at LBS. Maybe there are more FE based electives.
 
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If you are interested in doing cs, math, quant, an MBA will not help you get there. So considering you are behind the curve, that will probably put you further. I am currently doing a math program and one of my classmates worked as a patent lawyer for 5 years. Seems like you would be doing something similar, so the path does exist. Granted patent lawyers typically having engineering backgrounds, so that probably helped him out a lot.

Personally. I would go for math over cs (assuming you don't want to be a SWE or a developer). I always found that math kids could teach themselves cs better than cs kids could teach themselves math. Seems like you need to think a little more about what you want to do specifically before committing to going back to school. See if you can get a rotational program internship or shadow some people in the industry. Also message people with different jobs on LinkedIn to see what you think about them. It is going to be a decently long journey to transfer industries - make sure you are 100% certain of which direction to go.
 

Daniel Duffy

C++ author, trainer
math kids could teach themselves cs better than cs kids could teach themselves math.

Because CS is a subset of Maths, although CS profs will disagree.

But the best programmers I have experienced in the last 50 years (i.e. who can build complete systems) are not necessarily maths, CS.
Electronics is good 1) think in block structures, 2) close to hardware, 3) ..
You don't really learn 1) in Maths, CS. 1) is an engineering concept.
Traders are comfortable with 1).
 
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