Getting into prop trading without internship

Hi guys,

I understand that there is a vast amount of posts already covering the topic in a similar manner, but I am seeking advice/wisdom from members of the forum regarding my somewhat unconventional situation on how to get interviews at the top trading firms. Thank you all in advance.

I graduated a t40 undergrad with close to top marks. I've always been interested in financial markets and math.  I find building trading strategies as the perfect intersection between my natural ability, personality type, and just generally what I enjoy doing. Right now, I am in a top MFE program, but I do not have an internship for this summer due to a startup I was working on floundered. In any event, I will graduate next year (May 2023) and am aiming to transition into a full-time trading career upon graduation.

I feel like I have all but missed the ball on being able to apply for trading internships for this summer at the top shops and funds  - I have seen and applied to a few remaining open internship positions but it still seems like a long shot at this point. I want to be able to set myself up for opportunities when I graduate next year. I guess my main question is: how do I maximize my chances of the opportunity to interview at trading firms? I am fully cognizant of the extreme level of competition and minds of the people who are fighting for these spots, and I have been preparing for interviews accordingly. I am hungry for an opportunity and will do whatever it takes to get a chance at the interviews full time.

Thank you.

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Comments (4)

Most Helpful
May 6, 2022 - 8:34pm
HardestOfHardos, what's your opinion? Comment below:

There's a lot to unbuckle here because 'Prop Firm' is such a varied term. You've got everything from two-man shops to 'mega' firms like Jane Street. Markets, products and even strategies are so varied too. They also have different interview processes. Eg for the tiny trading houses, you're basically looking at a 'Show me your track record. Ok. Do you fit into our team culture? Sure. You're hired'. Whereas for Jane St or the likes, you've got an interview process with 23947532987 steps, technical questions, mental meths games, culture fits and everything in between. 

To be honest, if you have a solid track record of trading your own capital and can show it, getting an internship or FT role at a tiny trading house won't even be that hard. I've got a few friends who've gone through it and most are hired without much trouble. 

I wouldn't say I am qualified to actually give you advice on how to best prep for the bigger firms like Jane Street, way out of my league and I am nowhere near smart enough to even dream of applying to them. What I would say though, is narrow down what you're looking for. Commodities? Equities? Options on either of those? Find an area and specialise. For example, you mention you're into trading and maths - a perfect combo for getting into quantitative trading (or research!) if you're good enough at maths. I know a guy who got an SA with Citadel based purely on the fact that he was top of his class at Cambridge and was extremely smart (which translates to high performance in the interview process). That being said, 'quant' is a whole other ball game with a different skillset to speculative trading based on 'fundamentals'. 

Not sure if the above if helpful, and if it isn't then fair enough - give me MS, but hopefully it offers some perspective. 

May 7, 2022 - 1:32pm
cheeee, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thank you fellow hardo. I am aiming for the top firms such as the ones you have mentioned, I am to an extent successful trading my personal account, but that is completely irrelevant for such firms. A driving reason I am aiming for an opportunity at these firms is so I can develop into the best trader I can be by being surrounded by the best minds in the game. Most definitely understand the rigor of interviews, just trying to maximize my chances at getting a chance TO interview without a relevant internship. 

May 8, 2022 - 9:10pm
trader7, what's your opinion? Comment below:

With an academic resume like yours, you should be good enough to get a first round interview/OA at most of the "second tier" prop shops (second tier as in not the most elite/high performing shops). When I say that I mean more the likes of IMC/DRW/Akuna/Flow/Optiver than Jane Street/CitSec/HRT. You seem to have a good grip on what you're getting yourself into by acknowledging the level of competition and the high technical bar it takes to work at places like these. Most of those "second tier" firms will send you some sort of online assessment for the first round if your resume is somewhat qualified. From there it's on you to study the mental math/probability/combinatorics topics that could be covered and pass the test. Once you pass that test all that really matters is how well you interview. A lot of places don't care much, if it all, about your resume and just want to see if you reach their technical bar. Other firms will put more of an emphasis on you resume/schooling but I'd say its largely meritocratic and your interview performance matters much more. 

If I were you now, here are the few things I would be doing to prepare for full time interviews/OAs:

1) Practice mental math and study probability, market making, and brain teasers. These will be the topics most covered in the interview processes. For mental math I like zetamac on the default settings but there's a lot of other stuff out there. For the other stuff, I recommend finding a copy of Heard on the Street, and scouring glassdoor and WSO for interview questions. 

2) The other tangible thing you can do now to improve your resume is to look for firms hosting week-long seminar/classes. I know of many firms who do bootcamps/exposures/courses where you apply, go thru a shorter interview process, and then go to the firm for a week where you learn from them and they get an in depth look at you as a candidate. Check out the Peak6 bootcamp as an example. Many other firms, including some of the ones I named above, run similar programs. These are things you can attend this summer that will help you get in the door somewhere and buff your resume. They are an underrated part of trading recruiting that I would definitely check out.

Best of luck and if you have any other questions feel free to respond of DM me!

May 8, 2022 - 9:38pm
cheeee, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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