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FeynmanJr
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Getting a jon after PhD with no experience

March 30th, 2016, 5:58 pm

I am currently working on finishing my PhD in physics in US. Recently, I started to think to apply in a quantitative job (preferably in NYC or anywhere else in US) instead of going for a postdoc. However, since I was in academia for my whole life, I have no experience in finance (or taking any official course). I have read a few basic books to be more familiar with them, but I am not sure if I should focus in some special topics to read/learn (specially because I am going to graduate this summer). My research in my PhD was mostly involved mathematics and some computer programming to solve the green function, or minimization, but I know more in both coding and numerical solutions. I highly appreciate if any of you can help me in these questions I have:Since I am graduating end of this summer (probably), do I have enough time to apply for a job? Is there anything that I can do to improve my chance?Also, I want to know how to find people for informational interview, or is there a way to find good headhunter (if it is good for my condition)?-thanks Edit: I misspelled job in the title.
Last edited by FeynmanJr on March 29th, 2016, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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bearish
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Getting a jon after PhD with no experience

April 3rd, 2016, 6:56 pm

A couple of random thoughts. First, don't present anything vaguely like the above (or below, depending on your reading set-up) stream of consciousness when approaching people for a job, or even for informational interviews. Those of us who have been doing this for a while are rather tired of physicists who appear to have woken up in the morning before applying for a job thinking something along the lines of "ah, I am smart and good with math and computers; I hear I can make a lot of money in finance with these skills -- I am sure they will tell me how". Second, please have a native English speaker review your resume and any written communication you plan to send out. It may sound silly, but we are in a business where sometimes large amounts of money is on the line, and an attention to detail may be important. Finally, my generic advice to somebody at the PhD level who would like to attract the interest of hiring managers is to take some time out and try to apply your technical skills to a real world (or academic) finance problem. Kind of like Quantigic, but more gently.
Last edited by bearish on April 2nd, 2016, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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DDUKON
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Getting a jon after PhD with no experience

April 6th, 2016, 2:49 pm

Apply for a grad job in Banking . there are plenty of opportunities around.
 
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liam
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Getting a jon after PhD with no experience

April 10th, 2016, 3:21 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: bearishThose of us who have been doing this for a while are rather tired of physicists who appear to have woken up in the morning before applying for a job thinking something along the lines of "ah, I am smart and good with math and computers; I hear I can make a lot of money in finance with these skills -- I am sure they will tell me how".I second this.And I would extend that advice to people from all disciplines. I mentioned on other threads a few people I have tried to advise - the worst case was a girl from a BA insurance background who was looking for advice and did nothing but wind me up. Every time I tried to help her she would twist it and give me useless advice on my career when she was in no position to comment. The clincher was seeing her talk like a complete spaz about 'tech' being ideal for her - she just based this on the industry's strength and it apparently being better to work for than finance firms, but nothing to do with her skills. Her CV had no programming/software skills, or even alternatively IT skills. Not even educationally. And the attention to detail was important (or her lack thereof) - one bit of advice I had for her was that in her position she would not get roles through HHs, but through her network. HHs won't deal with people that have gone of the beaten track. Yet she showed no understanding and/or memory skills of a goldfish when A) she asked me to swap names of HHs we were using (we were in different sectors!!) and B) to forward the name of HH I mentioned in my sector that was good (again he can't help her, and based on her personality and his short fuse would have gotten on the phone to shout down my throat, given that she likely would have harassed him after he kindly explained to her that since he didn't cover her sector he couldn't help). And this idea of a HH going "I can't help but know who can" is something that belongs in the pre Sep 2008 world. In la-la land, where most people outside of finance, "big data" or any mathematical disciplines live, you can say trite like 'well she has a job so there', but in the real world, where I live, given that I see from her LinkedIn (which is full of false references as it is), she has since gone through a cycle of getting a job, getting kicked out of it after 6-9 months and starting over.It's bad enough when family, friends and partner think they can condescendingly tell you about how valued a maths degree is, when they don't have a clue, without having people like her in your hair, so the personal thing is valuable. Indeed when I helped someone do an internal move onto my team when I was last at a bank in 2010, it was mainly because I liked him. I met him on an internal training course where he asked for help, he seemed to be fairly quick, understood that he would have to be demoted to move onto our team. He was in a job within the bank that required attention to detail, which was useful for us and as far as he tells me, is still progressing and since back to the level he was at. His academics and experience weren't great per se, but I just got the feeling that he would be useful and he got into a role that didn't need academics per se and got him to restart at something he is much more enthused about. Contrast that to people I meet, especially at Toastmasters, that have the PhD or MSc, but never see the bigger picture. They talk about this hilarious plan to get into banking and 'leave after 2-5 years when I am rich', but that rarely see the link between shrinking IBs and their prospects. I keep thinking with many of them "you probably know STL and stochastics more than I can dream of, how are you this dumb?'I think the OP will have to work on really getting the full picture. For instance how many times did I explain to some dope that finance is specialised and not like tech where you will get a diverse skill set and move around, that I was leaving the sector for that reason, only later on for the clown to chinstroke and then go 'sounds like you want to be in finance then'? Or where I am describing how ineffective a manager is at getting talent when some dope automatically assumes I am talking about HR, when I have explicitly said the person in question is my boss or another hiring manager. It's irritating and I refuse to help maths or physics PhDs that can't follow fairly simple conversation threads. It's not just that they are being irritating but I just can't see if someone makes a 'genius' statements how they are going to help a firm make decisions in finance where the right business decision can often be counter-intuitive. The reality is that being a 'letter box' that cranks out a few numbers, which is all such a dimwit would be useful for, isn't a viable career choice.One bit of advice I was given when interviewing was to get across an understanding of WHY it is a stressful job. It's not so much the people you work with (at least it wasn't for me), but more that even in middle office roles my employability always rode on markets and my firm's strategy remaining in favour my products and not being side-tracked from where I wanted to be. It's not like some software engineers that I know that get put on a diverse amount of projects and never get pigeonholed.Get that understanding across - e.g. I was once asked in an interview about a market downturn in 2005 'what do you think of all that?'. I was so close to saying 'interesting', as I had it drummed into me to show enthusiasm, but manged to catch myself and say 'for anyone long on the markets it must be stressful, but long term I am not worried as they are on the up'. A huge part of the hiring process will involve talking about this and how you feel about the hiring process - managers like (or at least my impression is that they like) to talk to graduates that get to a certain degree the logic of finance hiring. i.e. that it is very specialist and that employability is more linked to your particular corner of the market. I have never interviewed candidates, that may happen in the future, but I am pretty certain if do and get the impression from physicists or mathematicians that they think it is a case of 'get your foot in the door and it is easy from then on' I won't hire them. The reality is that if you 'get your foot in the door' it can be easier, but in my experience it is only easy if you appreciate the attention to detail required for finance (saying that is 'true of all jobs' is a semantic argument and BS - attention to detail in finance is much more than I have experienced elsewhere) and don't act like you have 'made it'.
Last edited by liam on April 10th, 2016, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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liam
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Getting a jon after PhD with no experience

April 10th, 2016, 3:33 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: FeynmanJrI am currently working on finishing my PhD in physics in US. Recently, I started to think to apply in a quantitative job (preferably in NYC or anywhere else in US) instead of going for a postdoc. However, since I was in academia for my whole life, I have no experience in finance (or taking any official course). I have read a few basic books to be more familiar with them, but I am not sure if I should focus in some special topics to read/learn (specially because I am going to graduate this summer). My research in my PhD was mostly involved mathematics and some computer programming to solve the green function, or minimization, but I know more in both coding and numerical solutions. I highly appreciate if any of you can help me in these questions I have:Since I am graduating end of this summer (probably), do I have enough time to apply for a job? Is there anything that I can do to improve my chance?Also, I want to know how to find people for informational interview, or is there a way to find good headhunter (if it is good for my condition)?-thanks Edit: I misspelled job in the title.One bit of additional advice I would have is to really think the whole approach of 'lining up a job'. As you will have gathered from the posts here, getting into quant finance is very tough, even if markets keep on the up, and will involve a lot of reading up of Hull and other books on finance. It may be a much bigger commitment than you appreciate, certainly more than most other options or what people with other degrees go through - my preparation for quant roles took 2-3 months in 2005. And I have seen people fumble PhD and MSc degrees by going on a great big push for jobs and wind up with neither. It's not ideal given how markets are, but most managers will expect you to focus on the thesis around now. HHs for international roles - internet is best. When I looked originally in London I used this site's jobs board and sites for the big HH firms. The only thing is, given that hiring is tighter in quant finance and risk, you may have to chase them down. As Bearish says you need to get your CV reviewed - in my time just lobbing a reasonable CV that highlighted my stochastic calculus knowledge at any decent agency and they chased me down - these days they are a lot, lot, lot arsier and just the tiniest stuff on the CV and HHs might start hiding under the desk. The one major disadvantage of international job hunting is that not being there means your networking can be a bit more limited - LinkedIn and internet isn't a patch on meeting someone at a small business event and if your local area either doesn't have a finance scene or (like Dublin)has about 3 or 4 firms in the whole city that would hire you, then networking will be hard.
Last edited by liam on April 10th, 2016, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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FeynmanJr
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Getting a jon after PhD with no experience

April 11th, 2016, 6:17 pm

I really appreciate all advice I got from here. I totally agree to double check all my writings when I am contacting anyone. I am doing theoretical physics and I am comfortable working with C++ (I know a few other languages as well). However, I did not learn them officially. I know that I have to work on my thesis as well as reading a lot of things at this point. I have no experience in finance and that is why I asked my question here. I am not saying that I can change market in finance, but I think I may be qualified to do the jobs that people do there.@bearish: I will follow your advice. My plan is exactly to follow your advice on applying my skill in a real world problem. The only question is that I need to work in a place to be able to work on such a thing (or at least a temporary job at first). Also, I do like money, but that is the last item in my priorities at this point and I am mostly want to get the experience on working in such a place.@liam: Thanks for the long and helpful response. I am trying to get the "big picture". I am willing to learn new things, but I need to have some ideas about the direction. I would love to learn new thing and I am currently reading Hull's book as well as a C++ book. I will work on my thesis right now as well as looking for jobs to apply.
 
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Getting a jon after PhD with no experience

April 11th, 2016, 8:32 pm

QuoteMy research in my PhD was mostly involved mathematics This could be anything. Hopefully not string theory? QuoteI am comfortable working with C++ (I know a few other languages as well)What does 'comfortable' mean? I reckon most PhDs probably know bits and pieces of C++ to help them computing for physics degree. Nothing wrong with that its is not industrial-strength and you use a very small subset (no smart pointers??). Just my hunch.A lot of 'university' code tends to be C; nothing wrong with C. But C != C++. If you are doing interviews in C++ the coming while you need to agree on common terms of reference between all stakeholders to temper high expectations. Computing is not physics. And not to mention C++11That's not something you can learn by reading. Quote(I know a few other languages as wellNice to have of course but a low weight factor? Anyone can learn Python by self-study. You might be competing with certified Baruch/Quantnet C++ programmers.
Last edited by Cuchulainn on April 11th, 2016, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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FeynmanJr
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Getting a jon after PhD with no experience

April 12th, 2016, 2:50 pm

In my PhD, I worked on (non-equilibrium) statistical mechanics. I totally agree that industrial programming is different from academia (specially for a non computer science major). During my PhD, I worked on C++ (I am pretty aware that C, C#, and C++ are not same). I like to learn and I have no problem on doing it. I did not get what you meant by not being able to learn by reading. Did you mean that I need to practice and write a code or you meant I need to work in an industry to get experience? Right now, I am planning to move out of academia and I really appreciate getting any advice on how to do it.
 
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Cuchulainn
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Getting a jon after PhD with no experience

April 12th, 2016, 2:57 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: FeynmanJrIn my PhD, I worked on (non-equilibrium) statistical mechanics. I totally agree that industrial programming is different from academia (specially for a non computer science major). During my PhD, I worked on C++ (I am pretty aware that C, C#, and C++ are not same). I like to learn and I have no problem on doing it. I did not get what you meant by not being able to learn by reading. Did you mean that I need to practice and write a code or you meant I need to work in an industry to get experience? Right now, I am planning to move out of academia and I really appreciate getting any advice on how to do it.I meant reading C++ code in a book is not so useful. The best way is to program as much as you can, including all the things that can go wrong i.e. the gotchas.Quotemove out of academia In a word, "by degrees".
 
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Alan
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Getting a jon after PhD with no experience

April 13th, 2016, 10:09 pm

My advice to young Feynman is to cultivate some interests in the field. Do you attend finance-related seminars at your school or city? read the WSJ or other business publications? belong to your school's investment club? After doing these types of things, your interests should begin to form and you can ask: what firms are doing what I want to do?For example, finding an asset class that interests you is somewhat akin to deciding whether you want to be a theorist or experimentalist,in the sense that it's a high level decision, which you then narrow down in scope.
Last edited by Alan on April 13th, 2016, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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TehRaio
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Getting a jon after PhD with no experience

April 22nd, 2016, 1:06 am

QuoteOriginally posted by: FeynmanJrIn my PhD, I worked on (non-equilibrium) statistical mechanics. I totally agree that industrial programming is different from academia (specially for a non computer science major). During my PhD, I worked on C++ (I am pretty aware that C, C#, and C++ are not same). I like to learn and I have no problem on doing it. I did not get what you meant by not being able to learn by reading. Did you mean that I need to practice and write a code or you meant I need to work in an industry to get experience? Right now, I am planning to move out of academia and I really appreciate getting any advice on how to do it.if you did nonequilibiurm statistical mechanics, and you don't mind moving to france, I'm sure the folks at capital fund management will appreciate it.
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