Wanting to leave IB for ML research...

I'm looking to leave IB after 1 year to pursue a PhD in ML (deep RL to be specific). I wanted to embark on this now but having spoken to some researchers about this, they've advised me to go ahead with my IB role first given that I've worked so hard to get it and suggested that I could always go back to research if IB wasn't what I wanted to do.

Do any quants/people with ML experience have any tips on what I can do to prepare in the mean time? I already have some RL undergrad research experience so would ideally like some advice that's not the standard "read Sutton and Barto" (great book for people interested in RL though). My end goal is to do research in finance or in tech - i.e. quant research or something similar, so think I could best spend my time doing stats and probability prep (given that my background is not in maths). I think prior experience in IB may also help me secure a quant role after?

Comments (5)

Mar 7, 2021 - 4:23pm
BayesianPower, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Do you have a degree in CS/Math/Physics/Statistics, let alone have done any coding/mathematical modeling before? Not trying to be rude, just making sure. 

  • Incoming Analyst in IB - Cov
Mar 7, 2021 - 4:51pm

Absolutely - no offence taken. None of the above actually - engineering background instead (with a few CS modules). I'd say my coding skills are pretty decent. I've embarked on a few scientific programming projects (using numpy, matplotlib etc) and matlab (although more from academic work rather than personal projects). My grasp of the mathematical reasoning/derivations behind certain ML models is also good... hope that answers your question!

Mar 7, 2021 - 6:35pm
BayesianPower, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Is there a reason why you want to make the switch? I would caution you by saying the availability of jobs at top quant firms or tech companies is very limited - perhaps the same ratio of Ph.D. graduates go there as people go to top investment banks. Regardless though, if you are adamant, I think your best bet is to actually transfer to a more quantitative development role. Ph.D. programs are looking primarily for research experience in ML (ideally with published papers), and there is an excess of current undergraduates who have just that. 

  • Incoming Analyst in IB - Cov
Mar 8, 2021 - 3:07am

Apart from the fact that IB consists of 18hours of PP and Excel every day, i.e., boring work? Umm, over the last 8 months I've been working on programming projects and thoroughly enjoying it, it's intellectually stimulating and consists of constant learning. I also have the aptitude to learn programming language and kind of don't won't to waste it. 

What you say makes a lot of sense, I will probably take your advice and try to move into a more quant-y type role. If it doesn't work out, I'll just develop my skillset during the weekends and move once a suitable position opens up!

  • Incoming Analyst in IB - Cov
Mar 7, 2021 - 4:51pm

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