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Specific Skills for Quant Trader or Researcher

I will be applying to quant trader and quant reseracher jobs next year when I graduate (masters in statistics). I'd like to know a little more about the skills and knowledge that employers find desirable for these jobs. My idea is to focus my extra-curricular time on one or two topics, that way have some real and solid things to place on my resume and can speak intelligently about during interviews. Any help is appreciated, thanks!
All right, I shall start with the one that I think is one of the most important skills you need for these roles: Programming in Python/C++ or even R. You should at least be in advance level in one of these languages.
Programming in Python/C++ or even R. You should at least be in advance level in one of these languages.
Simon, I am almost at an advanced level in R, but so is everyone else(in some language) coming out of a masters program. Are there some specific and practical applications that you could suggest?

Would it be worthwhile to learn how to and develop code to scrub for wrongly reported exchange data, using statistical inferences to determine if a point should be included/excluded? (I read in one book that clean data is a huge deal)

I truly find this stuff interesting and want to show potential employers that I'm not just another newbie applying for a 'quant' job because I heard it pays well.
Well. If you are just an average level of R , you need to probably improve it such that you are in the top percentile among the student. Just go to racker rank and start doing practices there. I would highly recommend learning Python as it is more popular than R in trading industry for various reasons.

Nope. You don't need to be able to write codes to connect to exchanges. No one will expect a stats grad to do that. Master the stats skills you have. Know the models inside out.

Ok. If you believe you are not one of those, show the prove and efforts. maybe by start implementing strategys/ backtest.

Hope this helps.
Simon, I agree that I probably need to learn python. I see most job posts wanting or even requiring it. Unfortunately my classes all use R, so for the time being I'll stick with it. As for Hacker Rank, that site looks cool and I'll start up soon.

As for strategies and back testing, I can only find inter-day data on stocks. I trade derivatives for buying power purposes, and would love to get my hands on some options data. I appreciate your input.