MFE or Bust!

mannya

New Member
"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." -Mahatma Gandhi

I chose to include the quote above in my first post because three quarters of it speaks to the insecurities I had before making my decision to begin the newest chapter in my life, my road to receiving an admission letter from an MFE program. In a little less than two months I will be quitting my extremely secure job, in sunny South Florida, and moving my wife and two year old son to Ruston, Louisiana where I will begin my studies in order to obtain a second Bachelors Degree with a major in Math and minor in Computer Science. I will be posting several pieces which will chronicle my transition from full time work back to a full time undergraduate student while being a parent of a toddler, the classes I take to prepare for my intended graduate studies and everything in between. My intention of writing this blog is to provide an insight to undergraduate students who are considering future MFE studies and readers who have to take a longer path to the MFE, such as myself, and are trying to make that final decision, to be or not to be a quant.

My Background:
First and foremost I'm a father of an incredible two year old boy, who is my inspiration for taking this journey. Secondly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank both my son and my wife for being my rocks and support system through these next few years.

I graduated from Florida International University (FIU) in 2006 with a degree in Finance. Most readers on this site probably have never heard of the school and the same goes for employers on Wall Street, I understood that when I graduated so I cold called potential employers and after the millionth hang up I landed an interview and subsequently a job at a small Investor Relations firm marketing small to mid-cap metals and mining companies. This was definitely not a Bulge Bracket I-Bank but it was definitely my way in, after working there for a little over a year, I felt I was missing something from my job and realized it was the lack of quantitative work. In turn of that realization I applied for another position in Miami, my hometown, working at a Fortune 500 regulated utility, managing one of its cost recovery mechanisms and performing heat rate analyses, which measure plant efficiencies, in order to assist upper management in the decision of building new plants around the state or modifying existing plants to burn more efficient and cleaner fuels for the production of electricity. The latter further pushed my interest in becoming a quant. A few major realizations came about at this point.
  1. My Finance degree alone will not cut it in this world and
  2. due to my work schedule and my parental duties combined, it would be impossible to juggle a full time Math curriculum. After the latter realization I came home and told my wife I was quitting my job and I was going back to school. If you have a mirror while your reading this and look in to it as you read the previous sentence you will probably make the same facial expression my wife gave me when I told her this, but after a few glasses of wine and the promise to take her to watch Sex and The City 2 she was fully behind me.
Our Options:
Being that our situation is a bit different than most students, we wanted to make sure that our costs were low for the undergraduate portion of my studies. Our initial thought was to go back to New York, but due to the high costs of the city it would put us too far in debt for a second undergrad degree, staying in Miami would put us in the same boat. So with a large chunk of my wife's family residing in Louisiana I applied to Louisiana Tech where I was accepted and given an in-state tuition scholarship which drastically reduced the costs and made our decision a lot easier.

This first post is intended to provide readers an opportunity to get to know me and my goals for this blog. Any comments or suggestions for future posts are greatly welcomed.
 

mannya

New Member
Thanks again Andy, I share your belief in pursuing your dreams and feel that this short term sacrifice will be needed to pursue mine. Please wish your son a happy birthday for us!

I had a great time putting together this post and look forward to future posts!
 

Joy Pathak

Swaptionz
Hey Manny , as your fellow blogger here, I welcome you to QuantNet. Looking forward to your posts. :)
 

physEcon

Member
Just out of curiosity, why did you choose to do another whole undergraduate degree? Why not just take the necessary math courses (calcs, lin alg, dif eq, and prob) part time or online?
 

mannya

New Member
VIVEKJ and Joy thank you both for the well wishes I hope we get a chance to get to know each other through out this process.

PHYSECON - You pose a valid question. That was actually one of my first thoughts, but since my background is in Finance, I didn't take any programming classes in college and my Math classes did not go any higher than Pre-Calculus. In other words I am starting from scratch, also after researching several sites, (including this one) and several program websites, it seems that those making admission decisions do not seem to look to highly upon applicants with a non-mathematical degree and minimal math courses. I want to make my application stick out, I beleive supplementing my resume with this second undergraduate degree will do that. Thanks again for taking the time to read through my post and I look forward to talking to you again.
 

kbharadwaj

Member
Very good post Mannya. Really inspiring. Your decision is sure a good one and I wish you all the best things in your life. You would go ahead and achieve great heights.
 

mannya

New Member
Atreides, Olgenue and Kbharadwaj - Thank you all for the encouraging words they truly help through out this whole process.

Rich - Thanks for taking the time to read through my post. I fully agree with you when you state that I am not the first nor will I be the last person to quit their job and go back to school. The reason I requested to start this blog is because after reading posts on this website I noticed a lot of people were in the same shoes I was in when trying to decide if this was the right path for them or not. The way I see it (and I may be completely wrong)making the decision to give up guaranteed money to pursue something that may not even end up working in your favor is a huge decision, and the decision gets bigger if you have a family, so if I can make that decision easier for someone the blog would have served its purpose. This first post was just meant to introduce myself and my goals for the blog. In the future I will hopefully write about current topics in finance and my ongoing training in math and programming as well as the experience of a non-traditional undergrad student. I know it may not appeal to the whole Quantnet community but I am very open to any constructive criticism as this blog will always be a work in progress.
 

physEcon

Member
Rich, given that Mannya is going all the way back to complete a whole other bachelor's degree I find his story to be a bit out of the ordinary, thus very much warranting chronicling. Besides, it's not like his articles will really be crowding out others.
 

mannya

New Member
Rich,first of all let me thank you for the abundance of confidence you have in me, the schedule you just posed is a valid one but is easier said than done.

Not that I consider my self old but if I was 22 and not a father who works 60 hours a week, on a good week, this would have been the track I took (per my earlier posts).

Secondly, people get admitted in to programs every year, I am not positive but I am confident that through the path I am taking I will get offered admission to a program of my choice. In my semi-short career I have learned fast that its not getting in thats important or difficult but its staying in and finishing on top that poses the greatest challenge. I should have noted that in my original post, I want to remain competetive with my cohorts and I feel (again I may be wrong) that by taking the minimal courses required for admission in these programs and trying to compete with someone who has been studying applied math for the past four years would put me at a disadvantage when it comes to interviewing for jobs and standing out to my teachers, who will in turn also be avenues for potential interviews.

Regarding the extra classes, you assume correct I do not have to take those classes as my previous classes taken will be applied. The school was asking me to take a foreign language, but I am Cuban and am fluent reading, writing and speaking Spanish so I have tested out of its requirement.

Finally, I find two big issues with your recommended path, 1) if I do take your route to an MFE I don't think the good people at Quantnet would let me write this blog and then who would aggrevate you so much during your long weekends and 2)I am out of $10,000 with out as much as a Letter of Recommendation.

Seriously though thanks again for taking so much interest in my future it truly means a lot.
 

manish

New Member
This is the path less travelled. Very brave! I wish the god of randomness stays by your side.
 
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