Received a Quant HF FT offer as a freshman, would like some advice

Hi,

I'm a rising sophomore at a target studying math who's currently interning at a quant hedge fund. A few days ago I was offered a return offer which included working during the school year and then receiving a FT offer once I graduated. (This was strictly meritocratic. I had no connection to this firm prior to the internship.) I'm aware this is a very rare opportunity, for which I'm extremely grateful, and I want to play it smart. I've really enjoyed my internship and have learned a shit ton, but I also think it'd be best if I gain some experience at other firms. However, simultaneously, I also would like to continue working for the same firm during the school year, both because the pay is quite nice and I get to continue building a skillset. Currently, I'm not sure if my long term goals align with working in HF as I've been siding more towards working 10-15 years at a prop firm (JS, HRT, Radix, etc) and then just peacing out and retiring. I'm looking for some advice on how to best handle this offer, while also both not constraining myself too much nor burning any bridges because I truly do appreciate and like my current firm. No one in my family is in finance, or the corporate world for that matter, and all my friends are too young to offer any constructive career advice yet, so I'd really appreciate any help and/or words of wisdom any one has!

Thank you so much for the help!

P.s Not sure why WSO is steadfast on including France and the midwest as regions of interest (won't update correctly), but the fund has multiple offices and based out of NYC.

Comments (18)

Most Helpful
Aug 4, 2022 - 6:29pm
morgantire, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You're afraid of committing to this firm because you want to know what else is out there. No matter where you go, you'll never know what would have happened if you had waited for another offer from somebody else.

  If you have a "long term goal" of preferring a prop firm over a quant HF, then pfft, forget that goal, many of the skills are transferrable and there is enough overlap between prop shops and quant HF that you can easily switch back and forth between them at any point in your career. Besides, you're still in college so you're probably not yet experienced enough to really understand the implications of the difference (and even if you were, it depends on the specific firm and specific job role). If you're just saying you want to work at a prop shop because you think it pays better, then that is not necessarily true. 

  You say you like this firm, so the only reason not to accept the offer is if you think you might get a better offer from someone else. Do you want to post the offer details? If so we'll tell you whether it's a good offer or not. 

  • Prospect in HF - Other
Aug 7, 2022 - 8:20am

Thank you so much for the thoughtful answer! You're absolutely right. The fear is irrational and why I hold an arbitrary preference for prop over HF is something I've been pondering myself for a while. I think the main reason is the average employee age. This past year I attended a few US versions of insight days for firms like JS and Citadel. And for especially JS, I came to really enjoy how youthful the culture was (at least for the naive 5 days I had there lol). When I first received the return offer, it was quite crushing if I have to be honest. It was the first time it really hit me… fuck I'm becoming an adult, I'm starting to no longer be a kid. This firm although I like it, is quite older than me (if I must guess, the avg age is probably around 35) so the culture is different than that at a younger firm. More so than the pay, I don't want to completely lose my 20s just chasing the highest paycheck or hanging out with mainly 40 year olds who talk about their divorced wives and 1980s-esque wallstreet activities (no offense to anyone). I also think there's value in building career camaraderie with peers my age esp early on.

Regarding the job, it's a quant research role, whereas I think I would enjoy more the dynamism that comes with a trading role. Because the firm is rather tight with around 25 employees and over 2bln aum, the offer was just a 1 hour discussion where the specifics are still being fleshed out. But, it seems it'll be around 5k for part time work during the school year, essentially I'm just on retainer, and then be hired FT with a salary of around 150k and bonus likely around 100%.

I apologize for the already lengthy reply. One question I do have is how do I navigate applying to other jobs when I'm under a rather strict NDA? How is previous experience usually discussed in an interview setting in an industry that highly values IP? Also, is it reasonable to ask recruiters to let me know beforehand if they'll reach out to my current employer for references/background checks because I figure it wouldn't be good if my employer finds out from some random third party that I'm applying elsewhere. Thank you so much and I apologize for the potentially naive and trivial questions.

Aug 7, 2022 - 6:16pm
morgantire, what's your opinion? Comment below:

They're offering ~300K for your fulltime role 3 years from now? That number makes your decision harder -- it's a good offer, definitely above average for straight out of undergrad, but not so much so that you'd be a fool to turn it down. If the offer was any higher or any lower, then your decision would be easier. (You'll hear stories of a few shops offering 400-500k or whatever, and maybe that happens for a lucky few, but it is definitely not the norm so don't bank on it automatically happening for you).

Sounds like your best bet is to go ahead and accept the part time role, shower them with praise about how much you love the company and the people, but tell them you're not yet ready to commit to post-graduation cause you're still thinking about other options including grad school. They will reply "Oh sure, just go ahead and accept now and if you decide to go to grad school instead, then no problem, we'll be happy to let you out of the contract" and you should reply, "oh wow, thank you so much, I really love how understanding everyone at this company is! But graduation seems so far away for me to decide my whole future now.  But I love the company, so I'd love to come back and work with you again for next summer. Can I go ahead and sign on now for next summer's internship?" It shows your serious about them so they don't feel rejected, but it also buys you another year or two to see if any other options come up.

If you do get another interview, don't worry about your "strict NDA" discussing previous experience. No offense, but you are a college freshman and you don't know anything a competitor doesn't already know. :-) You're allowed to describe high-level what you did at your previous role. And yes, it's fine to tell you recruiter not to contact your prev employer without your permission. 

  • Intern in HF - EquityHedge
Aug 4, 2022 - 6:53pm

If you were able to secure a FT offer at a reputable hf as a freshman you are prob smart enough to have a shot at the Jane St/2sig/Citadels of the world.

  • Prospect in HF - Other
Aug 7, 2022 - 8:43am

It's a research role. I have a decent background in math. The PM said the return offer is due to how quickly I picked up the role and skills. However, I think I'd prefer working in trading.

Aug 5, 2022 - 7:56am
wheyproteinisolate, what's your opinion? Comment below:

you have 2 years left in school. take the offer and continue interviewing for FT in your junior/senior year. I wouldn't draw too much of a distinction between prop and HF: the skills the jobs are almost the same especially a  a researcher. I've seen people transfer between the two quite seamlessly. The difference between firms is not very important once you're in the game. What matters is the area you're starting out in (for example, if you start out in equities you'll keep working in equities forever). Try to get this part right, because if you decide you don't like it at a later point, it might be hard to switch out. 

Aug 5, 2022 - 10:44am
Mitchy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

By freshman don't you mean being in the first year out of undergrad ? Like first year in a two years master in Europe ?

On the subject, I align with the other on the fact that HF and prop are very general and it is more firm specific than anything else.

  • Prospect in HF - Other
Aug 7, 2022 - 8:44am

No, I mean first year in college. As in I've just completed my first year of undergrad and will be beginning my second year this fall.

Aug 5, 2022 - 1:23pm
CollierV, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Firstly, congrats for the offer. Secondy, do you have any tips on how to get better at math? Could you recommend some resources? Thanks 

  • Prospect in HF - Other
Aug 7, 2022 - 6:50pm

Hey man, this is def not the norm. I just got lucky asf and rolled with it. Hell, I feel awkward even telling my friends about this (I prob won't even tbh) bc of how abnormal it is… at least in my friend group (and I have friends who are gold IMO medalists). So idk if you were just joking, but in the chance you weren't, please don't have my very specific experience be discouraging or a basis for anything lmao

  • Prospect in HF - Other
Aug 7, 2022 - 7:02pm

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