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zoomfly
Topic Author
Posts: 5
Joined: March 16th, 2019, 6:17 pm

Reality Check

March 16th, 2019, 7:07 pm

Joined the industry ~6 years ago into a technology program at a big bank but in 2 years moved into risk quant dev (prototyping, building and implementing market risk analytics, but still falls under technology). Also worked upon big data technologies - used them for storage and computing millions of analytics, providing almost real-time retrieval of analytics (spanning billions of points and multi-year data) for various use-cases for a mid-sized IB. 
Firstly I was lured into initial job for lack of options (was on OPT post masters and couldn't afford long unemployment in search of better options) and failure to convert some good desk quant interviews that I managed to get but then grudgingly (& unconsciously) stayed committed to my work. Learned many things on the job like coding best practices, technology best practices, building production quality systems and processes etc., was always praised by colleagues and bosses for work quality and ethic, had 2 promotions in ~4 years (may be all this is inflated praised in bank IT divisions and I am left in a bubble after all?!). 
All the while I had been assuming that I would naturally stumble upon some opportunity that takes me into or near trading desk - which allows me to apply all that I learned and put that knowledge to directly contribute to revenue generation. 
I recently had an internal job opportunity for Equity desk quant role but was passed over for a freshly Math PhD from UCLA (no wonder I stood no chance in comparison). Tried to move into desk Risk Manager role but was passed on again for someone from operations (trying for the same internal role) because ops person is assumed to know the "business" better, though I know I can explain every single risk analytics used by this team better than the ops person - but I'd come to accept that it's not how these decisions work. 
I spent ~2-3 weeks to refresh the text book concepts for the above roles (like pricing theory, numerical methods etc.) and was able to get back to interview levels but I was frankly struggling and questioning myself if this investment in time stands any chance against other applicants trying for these roles. 

I can continue my current work sleepwalking through my life, but I already built a lot of self hatred for doing for ~6 years and I'm afraid I could become depressed and suicidal if I continue like this. I would like to move out because I always wanted to work and I am good at molding myself to solve complex problems and I enjoy doing that.

After all this do I stand any chance of realizing this or is it just a pipe dream of my life?
 
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bearish
Posts: 4733
Joined: February 3rd, 2011, 2:19 pm

Re: Reality Check

March 16th, 2019, 9:49 pm

You mention OPT - what’s your current status? That would seem pretty relevant to the question at hand.
 
zoomfly
Topic Author
Posts: 5
Joined: March 16th, 2019, 6:17 pm

Re: Reality Check

March 17th, 2019, 12:55 am

@bearish: Current status is H1B, OPT was almost 6 years back. On track for H1B renewals by virtue of I140. 
 
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bearish
Posts: 4733
Joined: February 3rd, 2011, 2:19 pm

Re: Reality Check

March 17th, 2019, 1:34 am

OK - so that means you have a rather short fuse for obtaining a green card. Even shorter than history would suggest, given the insanity currently ruling the country. Is that important to you, or are you happy going back to wherever you came from? Is your current employer willing and able to sponsor you? Frankly, these would seem to be slightly more important questions than whether you are reporting up along an IT line or a risk management line. But that's just me...
 
zoomfly
Topic Author
Posts: 5
Joined: March 16th, 2019, 6:17 pm

Re: Reality Check

March 17th, 2019, 2:01 am

My company already sponsored me, so that's taken care of. I'm not keen on going back as that would mean uprooting my spouse's career.
 
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bearish
Posts: 4733
Joined: February 3rd, 2011, 2:19 pm

Re: Reality Check

March 17th, 2019, 2:12 pm

Leaving your visa/immigration status aside, it sounds like you are pretty good at doing a job that you hate, and probably not particularly qualified for the kind of job that you want. A master's degree is on the low end of quant qualifications, obviously depending slightly on the specific school and field of study, and having it aged by 6 years of doing something else is not helpful (although that is to some extent offset by improved programming skills). Furthermore, you may also have some misconceptions about the world. Even in the good old days (loosely defined as 1987-2007) it would be pretty rare for a sell side quant "to directly contribute to revenue generation". Since the crisis, fughetaboutit! Being beaten to positions by a fresh math PhD and an ops person also suggests that you are casting your net so wide as to appear fairly desperate to escape your current position. That is not a good image to project. Given your six years of post-masters level experience and two promotions, I'm assuming you are at a VP level. That complicates internal transfers, since even if you are deemed qualified to join a quant or risk group, you are most likely not qualified for a VP level position there, and there is usually some hesitancy involved in making transfers that result in a title demotion. That would be less of an issue when applying for external jobs. You might think about looking into buy side quant or risk positions, especially in smaller shops where the roles are often more broadly defined and such positions may indeed involve serious amounts of data wrangling that could play to your strengths. You should feel free to rebrand yourself as a data scientist, since that's what people do these days. To the extent that it would require some (formal or informal) studying, that would probably be a better use of your spare time than re-reading your old text books.  
 
zoomfly
Topic Author
Posts: 5
Joined: March 16th, 2019, 6:17 pm

Re: Reality Check

March 17th, 2019, 10:22 pm

Thank you @bearish for your thoughtful reply. You're true about almost everything. Since the last few months I'd been investing my time mostly into building knowledge in ML concepts - partly to satisfy my intellectual curiosity and partly for the "greed" of being eligible for the roles (which might exist only hypothetically). I hope to take this pursuit to its logical conclusion. Meanwhile I shall also try knocking doors of smaller shops as you suggest. Despite having avenues to spend my time and despite being in a financially uncomplaining position sometimes I encounter the darkness of an unrealized dream and the weight it brings along though it's entirely by the choices I made. 

I would also like to apologize to the wider community for venting out my thoughts on this forum and laying out my slightly unpleasant story.

@bearish: Thank you once again, your answer was empathetic; I'm sure you bring peace to the people surrounding you and it speaks volumes about the kind of person you're. Cheers.