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bandi_np


Total Posts: 7
Joined: Nov 2020
 
Posted: 2020-11-18 16:06
Dear all,

I have recently graduated in physics from an university on the old continent. I have been trying to enter the quantitative trading/research world but so far I had no success. In general, I am rejected without even a phone call. I've been reading this forum for the past ~8 years and I understand that the domain is very competitive but I am surprised that I can't even get a phone interview. I postulate iff I fill the boxes (either did a project, a code or followed a lecture on the topic) given in the offer. The "fanciest" job that I applied for was a summer internship and fixed position (not at the same time) at Quadrature Capital and got rejected twice with a no-reply mails. I can't really get feedback from HR with this kind of mail. I gave my CV to the career service of my university and they said it was alright (maybe they don't know the quant finance HR mindset).

I have spent time on the quant interview problems and I would have liked to use these super useful skills at some point. Therefore, I am wondering how can I improve my CV in order to reach at least the phone interview level? Any other advice is welcome.

Thanks in advance for your replies!

rod


Total Posts: 430
Joined: Nov 2006
 
Posted: 2020-11-23 13:35
Take a look at these:

■ Sophia Gold, What hedge funds hire undergrads right out of college with little work experience?, March 17, 2017.

■ Sophia Gold, What are the steps to becoming a quant?Are there different types of quants? Do some do more programming than others? Why? What sort of education does one need to be a quant? What sort of degrees/majors/subjects do you need?, November 6, 2016.

bandi_np


Total Posts: 7
Joined: Nov 2020
 
Posted: 2020-11-23 16:44
Thanks for your answer.

I guess what disqualifies me is that I have a previous experience in structured products pricing. From the point of view of academia, a paper has been published from my master thesis and in terms of programming I have a good "physicist" level (projects in computational physics and data management/analysis) two points that I thought were not too bad.

rod


Total Posts: 430
Joined: Nov 2006
 
Posted: 2020-11-23 17:31
Do not think too much about the past and what's on your CV. What skills do you have? Do you do programming as a hobby? If so, what languages do you use? Are you minimally familiar with Git? What about Unix?

Why compete with 1000s of math PhDs for fewer and fewer quant positions? If you can learn physics, perhaps you can learn some computer science, too.

ronin


Total Posts: 610
Joined: May 2006
 
Posted: 2020-11-23 23:07
@bandi_np,

It is very rare for people to be hired as quants with a masters degree. Fresh quants are pretty much all PhDs.

I've been around for some years now, and I can remember a grand total of one instance where I saw somebody hired for a straight quant role without a PhD.

So your cv is probably going into some system which is automatically rejecting anyone without a PhD, and no human being ever even sees it.

That paper you've got - it's probably meaningless. Most stuff that comes out of academia is meaningless. And stuff that came out of a masters thesis is probably even more so. Or, at least, that will be the natural assumption that most people make.

I'm not trying to discourage you, but that's what you are up against.

There are other routes into the industry. Sales, developers, structurers, stuff like that - that might be a more natural route with your background. You will struggle to get a proper quant role.


"There is a SIX am?" -- Arthur

rod


Total Posts: 430
Joined: Nov 2006
 
Posted: 2020-11-23 23:12
I know several quants without PhDs. A PhD does not make one smart. It's merely a proxy for IQ and conscientiousness.

Once upon a time, an acquaintance of mine was in a PhD program in pure math at Oxbridge and a guy from Jane Street came to the math department to give a talk. He bluntly asked why the heck the grad students in the audience would spend years doing the PhD only to end up at the exact same position they would end up at if they dropped out of the PhD program after 1 year. In short, the value was in being admitted to Oxbridge and surviving a couple of semesters. Once one had done that, one already signaled that one was smart enough.

chiral3
Founding Member

Total Posts: 5180
Joined: Mar 2004
 
Posted: 2020-11-24 00:19
The trope is along the lines of "a PhD means you know how to take a problem that doesn't have a solution and, without help, develop a solution". Hence, PhDs are hired for quants. I've found this is only true for PhDs from the best universities that have one or two other traits. They aren't always smart. In other words, not as the absolute rule, but certainly most of the time, you need a solid pedigree. The reason it is necessary but not sufficient is because the cow colleges produce people that can only solve things in a narrow band, and you need those other traits that aren't conferred. These are inelastic problem solvers and inelastic minds. Enter the MS, or MSc, or whatever which, if from a top uni, is an ABD, since that means you passed qualifiers but didn't finish, and you have the group that can do the job as well, or better. Figure out what group you're in and soldier on.

Nonius is Satoshi Nakamoto. 物の哀れ

EspressoLover


Total Posts: 461
Joined: Jan 2015
 
Posted: 2020-11-24 03:55
95% of unsolicited resumes get filtered by automated keyword scans. Try to get a human, any human, in the loop. Even if just to give you actionable feedback about why you aren't the right candidate. Internal company recruiters are probably your best bet, since their whole job is to look for candidates. If you can get in touch with hiring managers, whether on LinkedIn or through a network, even better. Headhunters are hit-or-miss, but even then getting a human on the phone's going to be a big improvement over just getting repeatedly bounced off a keyword filter.

Idk about Europe, but at least in the US in prop/HFT/stat-arb world there are plenty of quants with only a bachelors to their name. IMO, all people ultimately care about is whether you add to the bottom-line or not. (Well not totally true, being a pleasant and fun person to spend 40 hours a week around also matters.) Nobody care if you're a Fields medalist or dropped out of kindergarten, as long as you make money.

Good questions outrank easy answers. -Paul Samuelson

rod


Total Posts: 430
Joined: Nov 2006
 
Posted: 2020-11-24 11:47
I wonder if the necessary-but-not-sufficient-ness of the PhD degree changed after 2008.

bandi_np


Total Posts: 7
Joined: Nov 2020
 
Posted: 2020-11-24 12:47
Thanks a lot for these replies.

@rod:
I have learned programming on my own and then had a more formal training during my degree. I mostly use Python (numpy, pandas, etc) for everything (data analysis/management, web stuff, ...) and C++ for simulations on Linux systems. I have written some code on GPUs and worked with a database too. But I am not sure how to present this as I don't want to pretend to have the programming skills of a CS student and then being caught during the interview.

@ronin:
I understand what you are saying about the paper (which is theoretical but not HEP theoretical if i dare to say) but I was hoping that in terms of signaling it would have been a good point. I could go into a more traditional banking/structured products job but it feels like it is less interesting on daily basis than a more quantitative position when you come from a scientific background (probably my naive thoughts on the subject).

@chiral3:
I still have the possibility to go for a Phd in the end but I am not sure that it will add much to my profile so I agree with you. Furthermore, I already followed doctoral seminars/lectures during my study.

@EspressoLover:
My new comer mistake probably but I didn't want to wake up the full HR department for my case especially when I got a no-reply mail without a name. You are absolutely right about the human interaction, at least I would have had a feedback. I try to be reasonable when I apply for a job meaning that the overlap between my skills and the requirements of the job is large (I am not an Olympiad guy but I was hopping to pass at least the first filter).

ronin


Total Posts: 610
Joined: May 2006
 
Posted: 2020-11-24 13:00
All fair enough. But it doesn't help you if some machine is doing the filtering.

And doing a PhD because you want a job as a quant is a bit excessive, and probably the wrong motivation.

Like @el says, try to get in front of a human being. Which is difficut when there is an entire system designed to keep you away from human beings. But machines will always filter you out.

> A PhD does not make one smart.

@rod,

I didn't say it does. But, in the age of automated filters, it's an easy automated filter.

> in the US in prop/HFT/stat-arb world there are plenty of quants with only a bachelors to their name

@el,

That might be a UK/US thing. The average fresh PhD in the UK is 25, and has been doing research for 3 and a half years. The average fresh PhD in the US is closer to 35, and has been doing research for 10 years. I don't doubt that it translates to different hiring practices.

"There is a SIX am?" -- Arthur

sharpe_machine


Total Posts: 69
Joined: Feb 2018
 
Posted: 2020-11-24 13:13
You should do a PhD if and only if you like the subject itself and have a strong desire to contribute to it. Otherwise do get a job and you will learn (and earn) a lot more. There is a good number of firms which would hire a person without a PhD to a quant-y position (the key here is that many of those positions are glorified engineers and not "real" quants whatever that means). Some of the companies that do hire quants without PhD are GSA, Citadel, Jane, HRT, Jump, Quadrature, etc.

rod


Total Posts: 430
Joined: Nov 2006
 
Posted: 2020-11-24 13:15
I suspect that many "quants" I know would be called "quant developers", or something like that, before 2008.

rod


Total Posts: 430
Joined: Nov 2006
 
Posted: 2020-11-24 13:21
@bandi_np: sent you an email.

chiral3
Founding Member

Total Posts: 5180
Joined: Mar 2004
 
Posted: 2020-11-24 16:51
In all fairness to times of old - over 95% of unsolicited resumes were round filed even before computerized submission. As late as the 1990's I recall people with their CVs printed out on that beautiful heavy weight and watermarked paper not knowing where to send their CVs because there was no address. I think I recall someone saying that the Bear Stearns website had a careers tab and it had no information or that they weren't soliciting resumes at the time. Hahahaha. It's always been go to a university that's recruited or know someone.

Nonius is Satoshi Nakamoto. 物の哀れ

EspressoLover


Total Posts: 461
Joined: Jan 2015
 
Posted: 2020-11-24 17:37
Out of genuine curiosity, how many "pure quants" (i.e. quants who don't touch software) are there actually still around?

This could just be my provincialism talking because I've always been in data driven roles/strats/orgs. But I can't imagine what use there is for a math PhD who doesn't code. What do these "pure quants" even do all day? Sit in the corner and solve differential equations from 9-5? Maybe I could see in the 90s and early 2000s when there was an explosion of new products and strategies.

But I really doubt if yet another variant on Levy jump diffusion is moving the needle for any major firm. ("Okay, this time it's a vol swap on a clique of caplets with a barrier on Tom Brady's odds of making the playoffs") And even if so, it's 2020- compute is essentially too cheap to meter. I think everyone sensible understands that it's far more practical to brute force numerical solutions with cheap, elastic clock cycles. It sure beats the care and feeding of high maintenance philosophes, just for the satisfaction of a crisp elegant analytic derivation.

(Just to clarify, I'm not knocking math PhDs. I've known a lot in the industry, and all of them, full-stop, were competent, if not excellent, at shipping code. All the way from a Jupyter notebook here and there, to maintaining large-scale production systems. At least IME, the industry does a pretty good job of keeping the philosophes in the math department.)

Good questions outrank easy answers. -Paul Samuelson

tabris


Total Posts: 1276
Joined: Feb 2005
 
Posted: 2020-11-25 00:27
"Out of genuine curiosity, how many "pure quants" (i.e. quants who don't touch software) are there actually still around?

This could just be my provincialism talking because I've always been in data driven roles/strats/orgs. But I can't imagine what use there is for a math PhD who doesn't code. What do these "pure quants" even do all day? Sit in the corner and solve differential equations from 9-5? Maybe I could see in the 90s and early 2000s when there was an explosion of new products and strategies."

marketing... talks... seminars... management roles... surprisingly there are still a ton of them around...

Dilbert: Why does it seem as though I am the only honest guy on earth? Dogbert: Your type tends not to reproduce.

nikol


Total Posts: 1235
Joined: Jun 2005
 
Posted: 2020-11-25 09:56
@tabris

If one do not touch data, see no actual trading history as result of our "thinking", then what? Another theoritician applying supersymmetry arguments to time series and scanning for 1000 possibilities, which cannot do the job?

ronin


Total Posts: 610
Joined: May 2006
 
Posted: 2020-11-25 10:07
> Bear Stearns website had a careers tab and it had no information or that they weren't soliciting resumes at the time


Alas, poor Bear Stearns. I interviewed there, Horatio.

Never mind...

"There is a SIX am?" -- Arthur

bandi_np


Total Posts: 7
Joined: Nov 2020
 
Posted: 2020-11-25 10:42
@sharpe_machine:
> Some of the companies that do hire quants without PhD are GSA, Citadel, Jane, HRT, Jump, Quadrature, etc.

My CV has been filtered out directly at this kind of firms, that's why I have asked what can I do to pass the first cut.

@EspressoLover:

From my tiny biased experience in SP, the quant that doesn't write code is an old-school scientist who knows Pascal/Fortran and has someone more junior that writes code in a newer programming language. Otherwise, he has a management role like a professor and his group. A good chunk of "vanilla" structured products can be priced via closed-form or approximate solution but it is sometimes easier (more common and generally accepted) to just send a MC/pde code on CPU/GPU nowadays.

chiral3
Founding Member

Total Posts: 5180
Joined: Mar 2004
 
Posted: 2020-11-25 16:26
"Alas, poor Bear Stearns. I interviewed there, Horatio.

Never mind..."

So many Bear stories. A couple of NPers spent quite a bit of time there.

I remember when I first started doing business with Bear and my sales person invited me to a Bear gathering. This was around the time that all the sheaves of paper in the building became monitor stands. If you don't get that you weren't there. On the cab ride over she's bitching about how she has to buy all her needs for work - pens, paper clips, etc. The irony that they were building desk stands out of paper while buying their own paperclips. That was the Bear culture.

We pull up to this club - I forget where - and they have the Allman Bros playing a private gig. This was something out of the movie boiler room. Coworkers were hooking up, doing drugs in the open, and everyone sounded like they were from Brooklyn or Staten Island. This was not Goldman culture.

On a sadder note, I know some of the older guys that were lifers. Took all their comp in shares, and the comp they didn't get in that form they converted to shares. Right to the end. I'd say about as bad as being a highly paid out-of-work white guy in his fifties today, except it was worse: they were broke.

Nonius is Satoshi Nakamoto. 物の哀れ

ronin


Total Posts: 610
Joined: May 2006
 
Posted: 2020-11-26 11:04
> some of the older guys that were lifers. Took all their comp in shares, and the comp they didn't get in that form they converted to shares. Right to the end.

Funny that. I knew some of them as well. But I never heard of anything like that at, say, Lehman. Unique to Bear, I think.


> math PhD who doesn't code. What do these "pure quants" even do all day?

@el, I don't think I have ever met a "pure quant" by this definition. Ever. The closest it ever came was a guy who was my boss for a short while - but his job title was trader, not quant. And he actually made his own multi asset Monte Carlo simulator in excel VBA, in his own spare time. Just to check stuff.

Yes, if you are still here - you know who you are.

On the other hand, there is coding and there is coding. If anybody ever said "Well, why do we need developers - we have all these quants who can code" - they would be laughed out of the room.


"There is a SIX am?" -- Arthur
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