Advice on becoming a quant/ Is this realistic?

For some background, I'm 23, graduated with a BEng Mechanical Engineering in May (GPA 3.38/4.2, (2.1)). And am due to begin a one-year MSc in Financial Economics at the beginning of February.

My goal is to start my first "big boy," job as a quant in January 2023 (hopefully finding a job before graduating to avoid any hanging around). For reference, I will be focusing my job search on London and Amsterdam. I am internationally flexible but am based in Europe and only speak English, so these cities are most realistic.

Luckily, I've completed modules in most mathematical areas quants are required to be familiar with as part of my engineering undergraduate (Stochastic Calculus, Stats & probability, Linear Algebra, etc.). These "pure maths," modules tended to be my favourites throughout university and were some of my strongest.

In terms of work experience, I've held many part-time and seasonal jobs over the last four or five years. However, the only "relevant," experience I have at a financial institution is a two-week online assurance summer internship at one of the big 4. I was initially supposed to spend 12 weeks in the office, however, this was not possible due to government restrictions. While having a reputable name on my resume shows some merit, it's unfortunate it did not translate into any real hands-on experience due to the circumstances. Even still, the work wouldn't have been very relevant to quant anyway.

One area I will have to work on is coding. I have some experience with C++, MatLab, and R, however wouldn't consider myself proficient in any. Earning a certification such as "Python for Data Science IBM edX" has been recommended to me to begin learning the coding skills required for the job. I am keen to begin this soon (likely Monday or sometime next week). Does anyone have experience with this course? Can anyone recommend a certification they believe to be more applicable?

In terms of networking, should I begin now? Or should I wait until I know how to code first? (sorry if that's a stupid question). Does anyone have networking tips specific to quant roles? Also, has anyone had positive experiences with any recruiters for these roles in London/Amsterdam?

Aside from this, is there anything else I should do over the next year to bring myself closer to my goal? I have found a reading list and some interview question books  - can anyone else recommend any more resources/skills/actions?

Thanks for your time in reading this, am open to talking with anyone with any interest/experience in the field. Thanks again!

Comments (8)

Jan 15, 2022 - 9:07am
SaltMaster, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It's good to see you're passionate about this, but just realise even though you will try your best you are still competing with absolute beasts for the few positions.

As an example a guy that graduated last year, that I know and got multiple offers - trinity cambridge, IOI medalist, did research summer internships at switz uni. I like to think I'm smart, first class from top uni, national medalist, working as swe at top hedge fund. But some people are just on a different level.

My advice just make sure you have a plan B. Also a lot of the super smart candidates tend to be autistic/introverted so if you're ever in an interview try to show of your explanation/communication skills. Clearly and concisely talk about your thoughts for a given problem etc.

Regarding interview prep checkout teamblind.

Jan 15, 2022 - 10:28am
donalhealy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Hey! Thanks for your response!

Yes I understand these positions are highly sought after and competitive, taking a "plan B," as my first job with a goal of moving into quant after some experience would not be the end of the world for me.

Mind if I dm you to learn more about your journey to your current position?


Jan 18, 2022 - 5:22am
donalhealy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for your response :)

I'd have to say I'm not overly picky/specific. In an ideal world I'd be an algorithmic trader/Front office quant. However, considering the competitiveness of the field as a whole I think I'd be more than happy to start in middle office/Risk either.

The only role that doesn't hugely appeal is quantitative research to be honest. I don't plan on pursuing a phD anyway, so I think I'm safe.

Jan 18, 2022 - 10:13am
Rotterdam, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Makes sense and probably a good way to look at it in this stage of your career. The reason I ask is because there is a big push across a lot of the commodity space right now (and there has been) to hire for quant roles and there are tons of commodity trading shops in Europe. For example, here is a job listing from Cargill with a Netherlands opening.

I've also seen other ag companies hiring for similar roles at certain times. Gas and power is obviously very big in that stuff and power is only getting bigger. A quick google search showed a couple roles in that space as well. Here's an interesting article that touches on it in the ag space.

Jan 18, 2022 - 10:21am
Rotterdam, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Also, it's Tuesday so hopefully you started learning to code in Python already. If I were you I would start immediately. Use the next year, combined with your school work, to build as many data science related projects as you can. I would pay the money for a coursera subscription and work through whatever Intro to Programming with Python class you thought was the best for you (I enjoyed the Rice University one). Once you have a basic understanding of syntax, classes, functions, etc then you can come up with whatever projects you're interested in and start building them. Could you pull in historical stock market index prices, clean the data, and create various charts of it in matplotlib? Probably a good place to start and the earlier you get going on it the more complex stuff you'll be able to do by the time you are interviewing.

Jan 18, 2022 - 3:28pm
donalhealy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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