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Maursh
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Posts: 32
Joined: August 24th, 2005, 10:16 am

Career dilemma - which way next?

August 14th, 2008, 12:45 pm

I have taken some time off work recently to finish off a masters course and I don't know whether too much time has caused too much navel gazing but for whatever reason I find myself in a bit of a predicament of what to do next:I have about 9 years industry experience mostly on buy-side and along with the MSc in statistics that I have just about completed, I will have three degrees in mathematical sciences. My most recent role was for a small asset management house in a hybrid role of dealing (equities, futures and options) and quantitative analytics (mostly performance and risk). As I already mentioned I left this role a few months ago to complete my academic studies and after hunting around for a bit think that I am about to get an offer from another buy-side firm as a pure direct market trader. My dilemma is that I am concerned that I might be selling myself short. I would eventually like to make some use of my academic credentials and I am concerned that the trader role, being pure cash equities, is going to take me up a dead end career wise. In addition, initially the agent told me it was offering a generous basic plus attractive bonus scheme but each interview round I get through, the basic salary mentioned by the agent seems to fall by a bit more. Now the basic seems to be little more than I was earning in my last role before I gained the masters qualification. Note that the masters is a pre-requisite condition for the new role. In my mind I thought that if I took a generously paying dead end job I can do all the interesting stuff for my own portfolio in a few years, but that incentive is ebbing away.Ideally I would like to get into something more quantitatively focused on the trading side, but any applications I have made to stat arb, junior quant trader, signal processing have been ignored. Can anything be salvaged from this role, does it have any redeeming features in your opinions or should I just let it go?I should point out that I do have a short-term contract offer already on the table as a risk consultant and my other option is to apply for PhD programmes in statistical areas.I would appreciate any thoughts or advice on what you might do in my situation.
 
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StatGuy
Posts: 607
Joined: November 20th, 2007, 9:03 am

Career dilemma - which way next?

August 14th, 2008, 1:34 pm

QuoteI should point out that I do have a short-term contract offer already on the table as a risk consultant and my other option is to apply for PhD programmes in statistical areas.As you know the quant markets are pretty tough to break into particularly at the junior end. I suspect you have been rejected for some of these roles not because of your background but perhaps they decided not to recruit after all. Certainly doing a PhD in Statistics will give you an advantage when applying for the roles you mention, but remember this is a huge commitment and will take you at least 4 years of hard work and even longer if you do it part-time. Think very carefully before you embark on any PhD program, its easy to start one but not many make it to the end.Also make sure you have a very supportive supervisor if you decide to do a PhD, this is particularly of high importance if you do one part-time. If you have a famous supervisor its great to learn from, but the danger is you would hardly ever see him/her as they always busy. If you decide on a PhD Statistics area, it would be good to get into areas like Nonparametric Bayesian Statistics, multivariate time series related areas with lots of mass data analysis using R, as the demand for these skills are hot at the moment.SG
 
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StatGuy
Posts: 607
Joined: November 20th, 2007, 9:03 am

Career dilemma - which way next?

August 14th, 2008, 1:35 pm

Last edited by StatGuy on August 13th, 2008, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Maursh
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Posts: 32
Joined: August 24th, 2005, 10:16 am

Career dilemma - which way next?

August 14th, 2008, 1:55 pm

Thanks for the reponse and the advice SG. Just out of interest, does anyone know whether work experience is a factor in the success of PhD candidates. That is, is someone more likely to succeed at gaining a PhD if they have some years work experience rather than straight through student or less so, or does it make no difference?
 
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khoni06
Posts: 75
Joined: July 23rd, 2007, 2:49 pm

Career dilemma - which way next?

August 15th, 2008, 7:18 am

I doubt that there is such a thing as “more likely to succeed at gaining a PhD”. Doing a PhD is not passing an exam. You finish your PhD or you quit. I’ve seen 3 guys in my department finishing their PhD after having work experience. Usually, the tough part for them was not the research side but going back to a classroom, doing homework and taking exams. Cheers, K.
 
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bogracer
Posts: 94
Joined: February 7th, 2005, 5:35 pm

Career dilemma - which way next?

August 15th, 2008, 9:31 am

Anecdotally, seems to me that people with work experience prior to a PhD have a tougher time. With work experience comes a real salary, and expectations of a certain level of comfort -- disposable income, more free time, etc. It's hard to go back.Unless that work experience was in the military. People I've seen return from military duty to complete their degree seem to do so on schedule, and with minimum angst.
 
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penguina
Posts: 174
Joined: August 17th, 2008, 11:36 pm

Career dilemma - which way next?

August 18th, 2008, 9:36 am

It is very difficult for people who haven't done PhDs to understand how tough and soul destroying it can be mentally, especially at the latter stages when writing your thesis.PhDs in the UK don't involve much in the way of lectures or exams but do require a lot of self motivation. Being a good student at BSc and MSc level does not necessarily mean you will be a good PhD student and it is also very different from working. I doubt there is any correlation between having work experience and successful completion of a PhD. I suspect the older one is the harder it is to return to student life.Given the dreadful macro economic situation it might be a good idea to take the opportunity to take 4 years off to study - I don't know what other people think of that. My working assumption is that the financial world is going to be a lot smaller and very different in 4 years time. This crisis is really only just starting - a huge amount of the fictional profits of the last few years are going to have to be written off. We're in uncharted territory with regards to things like debt to GDP levels and we could easily end up with a severe bout of debt deflation.
 
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DominicConnor
Posts: 11684
Joined: July 14th, 2002, 3:00 am

Career dilemma - which way next?

August 18th, 2008, 10:22 am

I agree that the opportunity cost of a PhD is now at a relative low, and that American PhDs seem to require less self-motivation.
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