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DominicConnor
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Joined: July 14th, 2002, 3:00 am

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September 23rd, 2003, 11:40 am

When I need C++ programmers, I hire programmers.That is often a rational choice, certainly when you need hard core programming done, knowledge of finance is a distraction at best.However one often needs hybrids, the optimum is often somewhere between the two extremes.
 
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Pablos
Posts: 65
Joined: April 15th, 2003, 2:37 pm

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September 24th, 2003, 9:49 am

This is a subject that's bothered me for a while and something I've spent a lot of time worrying about......I understand that the majority of grads try to embellish their CVs with claims of C/C++, VB, Excel, SAS etc. I have often seen many positions requiring "strong C/C++" skills but have not applied out of the simple fact that I don't consider myself to have strong C++ skills (I've never used C). Part of the problem stems from the fact that I have never worked with C++ programmers except in my post doc (In a Comp Sci Dept) where the guys were using C++ to do some pretty hard core stuff - programming neural networks, paralell programming etc - the code was often 1000's of lines long - my impression was that they were "srtrong C++" coders. Since I've left academia the company I work for doesn't use C++, only VB/Excel since a lot of the people who use the programs don't understand it. However I have continued to use C++ myself for various problems. I would say that I have a good understanding of C++. I've used it for a range of purposes - as a basic language to do simple coding, I've used templates to create very small libraries and written DLL's so that I can use these in VB. However until now, I have only considered this as a working knowledge and haven't felt comfortable about the idea of applying for positions that ask for strong C++ - but from thiis string I'm beginning to think otherwise........I guess that what I don't really know is, - when an IB asks for strong C/C++ for a junior quant position, what level of ability are they really looking for - and for those of you out there who employ these juniors, what level of programming would you expect someone to have?I'd really appreciate some feedback on these points.CheersPavlos
 
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DominicConnor
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Joined: July 14th, 2002, 3:00 am

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September 25th, 2003, 7:15 am

That's a good question, and it deserves a better answer than I think it will get.There is no grade or scale of C++ quality. In my experience one is asked a few questions, and the firm hires the bloke who got the most right.Thus I think the best scale is what percentile you are in.If you've fully come to grips with templates, then you're in the top half at least in terms of attainment, and one can safely say you "get" programming in general.A real programmer also can fix and enhance other people's code. Banks should test for this, many don't, but if they do, they shove a bit of random code in front of you. It is always worth doing a work out with the bugs at Gimpel Test your C++
 
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chiral3
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Joined: November 11th, 2002, 7:30 pm

Resume misrepresentation

September 25th, 2003, 5:18 pm

Everyone's back-and-forth is very well said, but let me offer the devil's advocacy.Jobs these days, particularly from an hr perspective, require "experts" in c/c++, vb, sas, ...... whatever. The funny things is that a few things can happen (to be simple)1) you have to be very, very good - "expert", "guru", "master of the universe", "comic book store owner"2) expert is an idiotic business term that applies to taking their expert course at an "expert" level, which is little more than introductory, and you really only need basic proficiency and the ability to learn new things3) it is bullshitA personal example is my own. I left academia strong in fortran90, c, and had some experience in vb and java. My job after that required some programming experience and sql. I used vb almost exclusively, go figure. Occasionally c, but we hired programmers. My current position required "guru" c, sql, sas, vb. I use c and sas at what would be considered a simple level, albeit with a bunch of a priori logic and math.
 
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Gmike2000
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Joined: September 25th, 2003, 9:49 pm

Resume misrepresentation

September 25th, 2003, 9:54 pm

SanFran, do you need a programmer or a quant? Coding is not that hard, whatever language you may be using, once you have accumulated some experience doing it. Perhaps you should not ask them specific C++ or SAS questions...why not have them do a specific program in pseudo code or any other language they prefer? It is the coding style that distinguishes the beginner from the master.Especially when it comes to implementing finance models...they don't usually require any hardcore coding techniques. One loop here, two variables there, put some colored buttons on the gui...done!When I interviewed for my first job, I had not coded anything (besides some Matlab in grad school) since my teenager computer geek days. They had me do pseudo code and I could show them I had the know how. They gave me the job and I have since learned SQL, VBA, some C/C++, and mastered Matlab. SanFran, give those guys a chance! If they are smart, they will learn what they don't yet know. It makes them less expensive too, you know.
Last edited by Gmike2000 on September 25th, 2003, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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SanFranCA2002
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Joined: October 3rd, 2002, 5:05 pm

Resume misrepresentation

September 25th, 2003, 10:43 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: Gmike2000SanFran, do you need a programmer or a quant? This was a starter job and I would not even consider it a quant position. This was more just a financial analyst that could do automation of and changes in some models and be able to understand a wide variety of derivatives and exposures on the floor. I just found it disturbing that graduates freely list as "skills" things they do no have direct skill in. I am sure several candidates could have picked up a certain software package in a few weeks. But that does not make it a "skill". Their skill may be that they have a verifiable programming background because they took a bunch of classes. But to list a particular specific software by name that they don't know as a "skill" is deceptive at least.
 
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temnik
Posts: 112
Joined: September 17th, 2003, 6:17 pm

Resume misrepresentation

September 25th, 2003, 11:37 pm

Ok, so it's a "starter job" for somebody out of school. Now, if somebody's been coding pieces of Linux kernel (in C) in their spare time, why would he be applying for your starter job? If somebody's been doing numerics for economics majors, his skills would most probably be in Gauss. And if somebody's been doing numerical programming for, say, physics problems - he'd still have no "C/C++ skillz" - just Fortran skills.So, please describe your realistic pool of "starter" candidates... :-) :-) As a side note, C has proved to be a great language for the purpose. C++ had some enhancement ideas - but these days its usage is mostly that of a straitjacket in the corporate IT.
Last edited by temnik on September 25th, 2003, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Jim
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Joined: February 1st, 2002, 5:20 pm

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September 26th, 2003, 12:39 am

QuoteIt is the coding style that distinguishes the beginner from the master.Here's how I do it... My favorite question to ask a candidate for a programming position is "What is the toughest bug you've ever encounted while programming, and how did you find and fix it?" If they tell me "My code never has any bugs" or all they have done is fix a syntax error after the compiler pointed it out, the interview is over. Any programmer worth his/her salt has at least one war story to tell.
 
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Towelie
Posts: 23
Joined: August 14th, 2003, 2:26 am

Resume misrepresentation

September 26th, 2003, 12:22 pm

It makes sense. I clearly remember that I struggled big time when I was building a thread library as a project for Operating Systems. There definitely were some twisted bugs (you know, when it comes to concurrence). It really was a war to me. But the thing is, after 3 years (I did a MS in computer science while doing my PhD in physics), I just can't remember what exactly those bugs were. I know it would've been so nice now to tell the interviewers my war stories, but the thing is, what I can remember is just that I had a bloody war ... (wait, is it one of those post-war trauma effects?)QuoteOriginally posted by: JimQuoteIt is the coding style that distinguishes the beginner from the master.Here's how I do it... My favorite question to ask a candidate for a programming position is "What is the toughest bug you've ever encounted while programming, and how did you find and fix it?" If they tell me "My code never has any bugs" or all they have done is fix a syntax error after the compiler pointed it out, the interview is over. Any programmer worth his/her salt has at least one war story to tell.
 
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SanFranCA2002
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Joined: October 3rd, 2002, 5:05 pm

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September 26th, 2003, 3:17 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: temnikSo, please describe your realistic pool of "starter" candidates... :-) :-) The person we hired was a computer science major until he got interested in economics and finance and switched majors. He did several projects in C and had a reasonable understanding of relational databases. He wants to work for a couple of years in finance and then decide on pursuing an MFE.
 
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temnik
Posts: 112
Joined: September 17th, 2003, 6:17 pm

Resume misrepresentation

September 26th, 2003, 6:48 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: SanFranCA2002The person we hired was a computer science major until he got interested in economics and finance and switched majors. He did several projects in C and had a reasonable understanding of relational databases. He wants to work for a couple of years in finance and then decide on pursuing an MFE.Congratulations - you got lucky. :-) I hope you do realize that people like that don't come across very often.
 
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SanFranCA2002
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Joined: October 3rd, 2002, 5:05 pm

Resume misrepresentation

September 26th, 2003, 6:53 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: temnikQuoteOriginally posted by: SanFranCA2002The person we hired was a computer science major until he got interested in economics and finance and switched majors. He did several projects in C and had a reasonable understanding of relational databases. He wants to work for a couple of years in finance and then decide on pursuing an MFE.Congratulations - you got lucky. :-) I hope you do realize that people like that don't come across very often.And he is from Stanford. Not bad. There might be more like that who started in CS and changed because of the dot com meltdown. Before I went into economics and such I was an anthropology (and briefly history) major, which does not generate much interest in finance. Maybe I would not have hired myself back then.
 
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phirangm
Posts: 32
Joined: April 30th, 2003, 8:18 pm

Resume misrepresentation

September 28th, 2003, 4:17 am

yeah, i just fixed my friend's numerical method program, and so SUCK IT!
 
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Oasis2000
Posts: 14
Joined: September 27th, 2003, 5:09 am

Resume misrepresentation

September 28th, 2003, 5:49 am

Hmm, That sounds fairly encouraging. I did my bachelors in Computer Science and Applied Math, did multiple technical internships at IBM while doing my undergrad, and after working there for about an year, have recently started Masters in Financial Math.Btw, Any idea if any companies hire FE interns? And how to go about approaching them?QuoteOriginally posted by: SanFranCA2002QuoteOriginally posted by: temnikQuoteOriginally posted by: SanFranCA2002The person we hired was a computer science major until he got interested in economics and finance and switched majors. He did several projects in C and had a reasonable understanding of relational databases. He wants to work for a couple of years in finance and then decide on pursuing an MFE.Congratulations - you got lucky. :-) I hope you do realize that people like that don't come across very often.And he is from Stanford. Not bad. There might be more like that who started in CS and changed because of the dot com meltdown. Before I went into economics and such I was an anthropology (and briefly history) major, which does not generate much interest in finance. Maybe I would not have hired myself back then.
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