• C++ Programming for Financial Engineering
    Highly recommended by thousands of MFE students. Covers essential C++ topics with applications to financial engineering. Learn more Join!
    Python for Finance with Intro to Data Science
    Gain practical understanding of Python to read, understand, and write professional Python code for your first day on the job. Learn more Join!
    An Intuition-Based Options Primer for FE
    Ideal for entry level positions interviews and graduate studies, specializing in options trading arbitrage and options valuation models. Learn more Join!

Need advice: No relevant work experience

Hey Everyone!

I applied to a few FE programs for Fall 2021 but so far have received very negative decisions.

I went to a non-target school in India for Computer Science (have decent grades- graduated with distinction) and have four years of work experience (however none of this is relevant to the FE programs or roles after that, I have however dabbled with some machine learning and a lot of programming). I have a strong GRE quant score but I want to know provided the subjective aspects (SOP, LORs, Interview) of my application are strong, do I even have a chance at any top 10 program or am I just kidding myself?
 
Most programs say work experience is not required. But to be honest most of the applicants to these programs have some kind of quant or at least some finance experience. There could be other aspects of your application that could offset this but remember you are competing with people who already have strong grades, scores and an overall good profile. I suggest you reach out to alum of your target schools and get a feel of the class profile.
At least, that is my take on it.
 
It doesn’t seem like you are asking for any pointers, it seems you are asking for reassurance. Unfortunately, like all of us, you’re just going to have to wait and see.

I think if in your personal statements you demonstrated a passion for and knowledge of finance, and how despite not having extensive experience in quantitative finance you still have amassed some baseline skills to be successful as a quant, then lacking relevant experience will be viewed less negatively. It comes down to how you sold yourself, and I don’t think anyone here, operating on just the information you’ve provided, can honestly tell you whether you did that successfully or not.
 
@Qui-Gon I'm honestly trying to get a feel of how top programs view students. I haven't really seen a lot of candidates without relevant work experience ( at least internships) get into a top 10 program. I am trying to understand if I am seriously considering a top MFE program, does it make sense to actually find some relevant experience before I apply again or should a strong personal statement/SOP make up for it ( like you said show I have amassed skills that will make a successful quant).
 
@Qui-Gon I'm honestly trying to get a feel of how top programs view students. I haven't really seen a lot of candidates without relevant work experience ( at least internships) get into a top 10 program. I am trying to understand if I am seriously considering a top MFE program, does it make sense to actually find some relevant experience before I apply again or should a strong personal statement/SOP make up for it ( like you said show I have amassed skills that will make a successful quant).
Then you haven't looked very hard ... https://math.nyu.edu/media/mathfin/class/2021/resume_book_2021.pdf . I know they are ranked 11th here on QN for 2021, but regardless, this gives you an idea.

You've already submitted your apps, I wouldn't spend your time now worrying about how likely you are to get in anywhere. Instead, I would recommend learning more math/stats/programming/finance to ensure in the case you are accepted somewhere you like, that you already have got the ball rolling with putting yourself in a position to excel academically.
 
Then you haven't looked very hard ... https://math.nyu.edu/media/mathfin/class/2021/resume_book_2021.pdf . I know they are ranked 11th here on QN for 2021, but regardless, this gives you an idea.

You've already submitted your apps, I wouldn't spend your time now worrying about how likely you are to get in anywhere. Instead, I would recommend learning more math/stats/programming/finance to ensure in the case you are accepted somewhere you like, that you already have got the ball rolling with putting yourself in a position to excel academically.
You don't have to be condescending when answering :)
 
I would recommend learning more math/stats/programming/finance to ensure in the case you are accepted somewhere you like, that you already have got the ball rolling with putting yourself in a position to excel academically.
Yes I'm definitely doing that but I'm also considering an outcome where nothing works out.
 
Try to get some work experience in CS or finance, do some maths/programming courses or projects if you think you're lacking in those areas. The C++ course here is highly regarded, and likely for good reasons. I took it but didn't finish it, and I'm doing a course at Columbia MSFE which covers roughly similar contents.

Regarding work experience, I think it'd be a good boost to your chances of landing a job/internship even if the program doesn't require it. I've had interview calls where I discussed my past work or research experiences. Even if they're not very related to the job you're applying for, they can make for good conversation topics: I once talked about how I did some projects in linear algebra related to computations on sparse matrices and the interviewer quickly remarked that he also had experience with the MATLAB packages I used when he was in grad school.

Then you haven't looked very hard ... https://math.nyu.edu/media/mathfin/class/2021/resume_book_2021.pdf . I know they are ranked 11th here on QN for 2021, but regardless, this gives you an idea.

You've already submitted your apps, I wouldn't spend your time now worrying about how likely you are to get in anywhere. Instead, I would recommend learning more math/stats/programming/finance to ensure in the case you are accepted somewhere you like, that you already have got the ball rolling with putting yourself in a position to excel academically.
You can do what Qui-Gon suggested here, check out the resume books and/or linkedin profiles of current students/alums of the top programs you're interested in. I'm quite certain Princeton MFin also publishes their students' resumes. NYU Courant's MathFin had been consistently ranked among the top 5-6 in QN rankings prior to 2021, so I wouldn't be that concerned about it being ranked 11th.

These people are some of the best candidates who made it to the top programs, and also the people you're competing against for jobs. Imagine if your resume is placed among those resumes, would you stick out in a good way to employers? That would be a good starting point to improve your profile.
 
Thank you @noether-skolem .
Try to get some work experience in CS or finance, do some maths/programming courses or projects if you think you're lacking in those areas. The C++ course here is highly regarded, and likely for good reasons. I took it but didn't finish it, and I'm doing a course at Columbia MSFE which covers roughly similar contents.
I have solid course work from my undergrad and quite a good amount of experience with programming but yes looking into other courses will definitely help.

Regarding work experience, I think it'd be a good boost to your chances of landing a job/internship even if the program doesn't require it. I've had interview calls where I discussed my past work or research experiences. Even if they're not very related to the job you're applying for, they can make for good conversation topics: I once talked about how I did some projects in linear algebra related to computations on sparse matrices and the interviewer quickly remarked that he also had experience with the MATLAB packages I used when he was in grad school.
With work experience, my only concern was how much of it will colleges or potential employers consider transferrable to quant roles and I wanted to know if there were people who actually made that switch and how they went about it.
 
Why don't you apply to some of the top programs (say top 5), keep working/looking for better jobs, and see if you could get into those top programs? If the programs deem you qualified enough to join, to some extent they should also deem you marketable to the companies/recruiters in their network. If you can't get into the top programs, strengthen your profile, keep working and reapply next year (many here had taken this path and ended up at their top choice programs).
 
0 work experience, got into a top 10.

Suggestion: Focus on showcasing your strong points that apply to quant finance, and in the statement show that you understand what your future job will be like.
 
Last edited:
Why don't you apply to some of the top programs (say top 5), keep working/looking for better jobs, and see if you could get into those top programs?
Yes, I've applied to some of the top programs. But the rejects from programs ranked 6-10 has been a little demotivating which is why I have been trying to figure out if there is something I should be doing differently.
 
Yes, I've applied to some of the top programs. But the rejects from programs ranked 6-10 has been a little demotivating which is why I have been trying to figure out if there is something I should be doing differently.
It's a bit hard to tell just from the information you posted here, but considering that you're from CS and have CS-related work experience, I can only guess that your maths background could be weak? In that case maybe you can consider taking some pre-MFE courses or online courses on the required materials.

Of course there are other possibilities like this year being extremely competitive due to admitted students from last year deferring (or reapplying), or you didn't do very well in some of the interviews.
 
Yes, I've applied to some of the top programs. But the rejects from programs ranked 6-10 has been a little demotivating which is why I have been trying to figure out if there is something I should be doing differently.
I got rejected by most programs yet I got into mscf and interviewed by Princeton. It just depends if the school is a fit or not.
 
It's a bit hard to tell just from the information you posted here, but considering that you're from CS and have CS-related work experience, I can only guess that your maths background could be weak? In that case maybe you can consider taking some pre-MFE courses or online courses on the required materials.
I do have a decent math background with good grades. Do online courses really help other than being a conversation point in the SOP/ Interviews? From what I've heard is they don't act as a substitute but can be used to supplement classes you took.
 
Top