I've been seeing a ton of posts here about this, because it seems that now thatS&T is downsizing everybody is looking for the next best thing.
I am addressing this because I think it needs to be said, and it seems to be what most of these threads come down to. This is definitely geared towards energy but the concepts apply for other commodities too.
1. There are no books or guides like there are for traditional S&T. Yes, there are a few books that you can read that can make you not sound like an idiot when you go interview. That's about the extent of it. They want you to be smart, they want you to work hard, they need you to be personable, and they want you to have some passion for this. They know there's not much you can possibly know, and don't really fully expect you to.
2. If you want to learn more, there are only a few ways. You can go get experience at an actual shop, or you can dive into EIA reports and the like. Both suck to do, both take a long time, both take a lot of further reading and time to fully understand. But experience is pretty much the only way.
3. That being said, if you want to go into physical commodities, just about the only way to do so is to go and work in the "back" office for a few years. This is because physical commodity trading is almost nothing like the trading you're thinking of. You must know the scheduling/operations side. You must know the risk side. It helps to know the financing side. And that's just the beginning. That's before you'll even be considered for a trading role. I have seen a few exceptions to this, but an understanding of how those companies operate makes it make sense - but those guys also have their backgrounds at very top companies.
4. If you are a student and you want to go into physical commodity trading, I have heard of two programs, and only two programs to do so out of undergrad. I can't even speak that well for either because I don't know much about them. One of them is at Texas A&M, and the other is at Tulane. From their websites, it looks like Texas A&M's program is geared towards undergrads. It looks like Tulane's is geared towards post-grads. I'll address this further in a minute.
5. If you are a student, I'd say the best way in is not through Vitol/Glencore/Trafigura/Noble, etc. The people in the business will crush me for this, but it's the best analogy I have: the Majors and similar shops are like yourand boutiques. Vitol/Glencore/Trafigura/etc are like the / /Apollos of the banking world. They are where you go once you get your experience. They have some training programs, but they are management focused rather than trading focused. Which is badass if you're interested in managing a physical trading shop (in my opinion it could be cooler than trading at one in terms of overall, long-term experience) but just keep that in mind.
6. If you are a student, the word "target" takes on a whole new meaning. Your targets are now every major school in Texas. Of those schools, Texas A&M and U. Texas seem to dominate in terms of people placed each year, but that's probably because they are some of the biggest schools in the country. LSU and Tulane place very well also.
7. Keep in mind it's a different set of skills they're looking for. They have quants, sure, but it's not like you need perfect math scores to get a job here. Yes, it does help - don't underestimate that. Yes, you need to be good at it. Do you need to know some of the shit I see on here for S&T? Not really.
8. I'll add more as they come to me. Those who actually trade physical feel free to correct me as I'm sure this isn't entirely correct.