Difficulty breaking into energy trading

Admittedly, I'm a new grad with no relevant experience as I was on the more traditional IB path for my school. Have been applying to ops / scheduling roles basically everywhere and besides a final round run with a top major for their TDP haven't managed to land anything (basically 0 first rounds anywhere for the rotational programs or I am told they are looking for experienced individuals at the smaller shops). I wanted some advice on improving my strategy to breaking in - should I just begin aggressively networking with people at the merchants like Vitol / Trafi? For context, I have been centering in on Houston opps. 

 

Ah, the classic tale of trying to swing from the branches of investment banking into the bustling world of energy trading. It's a jungle out there, but fear not! Based on the most helpful WSO content, here are some bananas... I mean, tips, to help you navigate through:

  1. Networking is King: You've got the right idea about networking, but let's add some strategy to it. Don't just reach out to anyone and everyone. Target individuals who are in roles you aspire to be in or have made similar transitions. Use LinkedIn, alumni networks, or even platforms like Wall Street Oasis to find these connections. Remember, it's not just about asking for a job but seeking advice, insights into the industry, and building genuine relationships.

  2. Leverage Your Background: While you may feel your experience isn't directly relevant, there's always a way to spin it. Highlight any analytical skills, teamwork, and any financial modeling you've done. Energy trading firms value individuals who can analyze data and make quick, informed decisions.

  3. Educate Yourself: Show your commitment by deepening your knowledge of the energy sector. This could be through online courses, certifications (like the Energy Risk Professional (ERP) offered by GARP), or even attending industry seminars and webinars. Knowledge of market trends, understanding of commodities, and familiarity with trading platforms will make you a more attractive candidate.

  4. Consider Starting in a Related Role: If direct entry into trading is proving difficult, consider roles that are adjacent to trading, such as operations, analysis, or logistics. These positions can provide valuable industry experience and a foot in the door. From there, you can network internally and position yourself for a move into trading.

  5. Showcase Your Passion: In your applications and interviews, make sure to convey your genuine interest in energy trading. Talk about why you're passionate about it, any personal projects or investments you've made in learning about the market, and how you see your future in the industry.

  6. Persistence and Patience: The path may not be straightforward and may require time. Keep applying, networking, and learning. Each interview, even if it doesn't lead to a job, is an opportunity to learn and improve.

Remember, every trader has a unique story about how they broke into the field. Yours is just beginning. Keep swinging through the networking vines, and eventually, you'll land in the right spot. Good luck!

Sources: energy trader, do I move?, How to network & get yourself a Career Mentor, A few questions on getting started in physical trading, Q&A: I'm an Agricultural Commodities Trader, can someone give me insight on the culture at a physical trading house (vitol, trafigura, mercuria)

I'm an AI bot trained on the most helpful WSO content across 17+ years.
 

Outside of the majors (which are out of the question for me for now), which places would you recommend?

 

not sure if I'm the best person to offer advice here, but supermajors (BP + Shell obviously), Gunvor is super strong, conocophillips is building out a TDP, Musket has a TDP, P66 has a TDP (heard mixed things), and Macquarie is really good. everyone receives literally thousands of applications, so it's extremely important that you directly reach out to the recruiter or people at the shop that can push forward your resume. Summer 2025 is opening up now but interviews won't be until late Fall so you've still got a ton of time to network. Just be normal and personable.

This is all regarding Houston by the way.

 
Most Helpful

Use what your were told and look at smaller shops. There's tons of ops/scheduling roles outside of the majors/TDPs and that's where the majority of people around the industry started. Look at utilities, power generators, smaller gas producers, retail energy companies, etc. Contact recruiters on LinkedIn, especially younger recruiters as they are mostly doing busy work, cold calls, etc and should love to be able to actually bring in a new client. You help them, they help you. 

Applying to smaller places to get into the industry is probably a much better use of your time then trying to network your way in to a large company that has 1000 applicants.

Good luck

 

Didn’t OP just say smaller shops are rejecting him because they want more experienced people in those seats?

 

My guess, though not a lot of information here. Your resume very likely screams "investment banking" and those resumes usually do well in the TDP pile as you made it far with one but for everyone else its a concern. Just a hard personality match or possibly not quantitative for other roles. 

Your focus for sure should be on networking and figuring out how the food chain works, just cause a shop is "smaller" does not mean its not a niche place full of senior people, in fact with smaller shops your goal should always be to come across as likeable and build a network. 

Lastly, if you resume could land the investment banking style roles it is not the end of the world to do DCM or financial analyst somewhere for a year and then push back in. Any role that allows you to grow your critical thinking skills. Consulting is another popular one. 

 

Tell me you’re a bot without telling me you’re a bot 

 

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