Leaving FAANG dev job for serious finance (Yes, you read that right)

I'm thinking of swimming against the tide and leaving tech for finance. Any thoughts are welcome. This post is kinda long, feel free to skip sections and just read the TLDRs.

Since graduating, I've worked for a couple years as a software engineer, and after a startup exit I'm currently at a company at the lower prestige end of the FAANG++ group (think Amazon/Microsoft/etc, rather than F/G). I'm seriously thinking about transitioning to a career in finance - is this even possible? What are my options? Or am I forevermore stuck debugging 1000s of lines of arcane code?

My Background: I've been interested in econ/finance since forever - I was the kid spending my pocket money buying the Financial Times. When picking up pizza, I'd mentally start estimating revenue/profit based on customers, staff, etc. I recently found an old notebook and my 2 stock picks of 2008 were F and GOOG (what a weird kid). But I was decent at math as well, and thinking it'd be much easier to go math-y to finance than the reverse, chose to do that at university.

I have a math / theoretical physics degree from a top target (usually ranked #1 or #2 globally for both my subject and overall), but - and here's the kicker - with a bad GPA. Turns out, when you're competing at that level, shit is tough, and from day 1 I worked my ass off to keep up, including straight through summers (massive mistake, didn't do any internships) This wasn't enough, and being in the middle of the bottom half of the cohort, with harsh curving, I finished with a 2.95/4 GPA. Eek!

After a month vacation, I picked up a software job at a small tech company. I couldn't actually code, but needed a job, so stuck some Python stickers on the outside of my laptop and wore a black hoodie to the interview, and basically social engineered my way in. I was bored with coding after just a few months, started looking for another job after ~9months, but then BigTech swooped in and bought us. So, in a last throw of the career-satisfaction-dice, I changed team, technical area, and city. But it's still boring af.

Background TLDR: was a hardcore finance nerd, did math-y stuff at university (with a bad GPA), got a coding job and ended up in BigTech

Why? So why am I even considering this? Surely anybody sane would cling for dear life to their BigTech coding job? There's a pile of reasons both pushing me out of tech, as well as pulling to finance. Let's start with why tech sucks for me, and why I'm seriously questioning it as a career:

  1. Coding just isn't fun for me. Leetcode-style questions (ie technical interviews) are ok, but I dislike 99% of the actual job. Debugging and testing are extremely tedious and menial, I don't like learning endless new languages, frameworks, etc, and I don't even like design-work (but I don't completely detest this). The only parts I actually like are softer work like mentoring people, running meetings, and thinking about how to improve team communication & efficiency.
  2. The whole industry is basically a bunch of male chinese and indian nerds. Eg on my current team of ~30, other than 1 russian, everybody else is a highly introverted male chinese/indian, with English so poor that communication is seriously impeded
  3. Relatedly, my soft skills are decaying, and I want to avoid becoming an industry veteran neckbeard. It's taking significant active effort to slow the decay and talk to people outside tech. I think there may be a closing window of opportunity here
  4. Career growth is mediocre. Experience from 10 years ago is effectively worthless, and I don't want to spend my 50s learning Python version 23.987 and practicing leetcode to change jobs. I'd almost certainly cap out at "senior" (ie Google's L5) at best, given I don't like much of the work
  5. Remote work - yeah, this is down in the right category. WFH is working pretty well, and my company is recruiting strongly in cheap locations outside the West. I don't want to spend my 50s competing with people in rural India who can code just as well as me
  6. Tech is booming - yeah, this is also down in the right category. Pay is high, software is eating the world etc. But given how easy it is to get into the industry, the labor market is adjusting relatively quickly. Industry growth rates must normalize at some point, and when that happens, pay/hours/etc will also normalize. If this is my experience now, what will it be like when things aren't booming?
  7. Tech is USA, and more specifically SF, centric. I want to spend time in UK/Canada/Australia. Tech has far less pay/prestige there, while finance takes less of a haircut. Also SF is bad (but I'd be happy in NYC for a while)

So why finance, rather than becoming a basket-weaver?

  1. I might actually like it. I read bloomberg, FT, etc all the time. I'm currently half way through a distressed debt book (by Moyer), and it's actually interesting. I care far more about Fed announcements than Python releases (or anything from the National Basket Weaving Association.) And coworkers wouldn't think I'm the devil when I say things like "what's our revenue?" or "monetary policy"
  2. I think technical competence would be relatively easy - for an objective data point, a few days ago I was considering doing CFA L1, did a practice test to see what the content was like, and got 90%
  3. Pays better than basket weaving. And wouldn't be too much of a downgrade from tech. I don't really need the money, but it's a bonus
  4. Finance hours are probably worse to start with, but a week of 50h debugging + 10h leetcode + 10h learning framework v234.987.0 isn't so great either
  5. But have never done even an internship, so I have no idea what it's like on the ground

Why TLDR: Tech sucks because coding, nerds, and future career doesn't look good. Also SF bay area is trash. Finance doesn't suck because it's interesting, future career isn't terrible, and I could do it without melting my brain. But I don't actually know that, because no internships

What are my options?

So this is where things become unclear. The usual option for somebody in my position (math-y undergrad, does software work) is hit the stats books and get a quant or quant dev job at Citadel / Jane Street / etc. I think I could probably, with some practice, get and pass interviews. But I know folk who work there, and their math ability is on another planet to mine - I'd fully expect to be out looking for another job before long. I could probably survive at a tier 2/3 shop though.

I'm probably too old at 24 for an IB analyst job, and in any case my GPA is still a problem if I try to go in via the front door. ER or AM seems more promising, particularly if I target TMT groups. How feasible would that be? Ideally I'd like to end up in something with a bit more bite though - things like RX, trading low liquidity products, or structuring seem more interesting, but are likely far more of a stretch for me right now, or flat impossible. PE is, I think, not ever going to be in reach. The nuclear option, of course, is getting an MBA. I'd rather avoid that if possible, but would consider it if it's the only option, probably with a move first to product/project/program management (for sanity preservation).

How should I be approaching this? What am I overlooking? How should I improve my chances of a successul transition? CFA, MFin, research reports, trading my own account, networking like crazy?

Or do I just not realise how good I've got it, and should suck it up and keep coding?

Comments (65)

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Jan 13, 2022 - 6:49am
  1. The whole industry is basically a bunch of male chinese and indian nerds. Eg on my current team of ~30, other than 1 russian, everybody else is a highly introverted male chinese/indian, with English so poor that communication is seriously impeded

 How embellished is this, is it really like this in tech/SF? I would suspect nyc is like the opposite.

Jan 13, 2022 - 12:50pm

Well, I'm not chinese/indian (so that's 2), the team is a bit smaller than 30, and one chinese guy mostly grew up in the US...so like 90% chinese/indian. This is for a team in SF & Seattle. To be fair, this is probably on the more extreme end for the industry but I don't think it's particularly uncommon

  • Research Analyst in HF - Other
Jan 14, 2022 - 1:06pm

Wait wait... when you said Chinese/Indian, you were referring to actual immigrants? Bc I originally imagined a bunch of American-born asians, who generally aren't nearly as introverted (not having language barrier helps). What would you say is the average age of these immigrant workers?

Jan 14, 2022 - 1:56pm

I work in tech.  Can confirm.  Especially on the engineering side.

Jan 13, 2022 - 11:27am

i think everyone that glorifies tech jobs should read this post. Sure, CS101 is fun/ez/interesting in undergrad, but the actual job is nothing like it. lot of mundane work like OP stated, JIRA updating BS, Scrum meetings and sprints. all dumb imo. 

will comeback with a proper answer. but OP I'd say to hit the pavement with your networking. Demonstrate that you can talk about the sector/industry, and come off as someone they'd want to work with.

you arent too old to break in. I was about your age when i broke in, and many of my colleagues are older than me.

Go all the way

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Jan 13, 2022 - 1:36pm

TheFlyingKiwi

Sure, CS101 is fun/ez/interesting in undergrad, but the actual job is nothing like it. lot of mundane work like OP stated, JIRA updating BS, Scrum meetings and sprints. all dumb imo.

This 100%. CS101 is a bunch of fun & interesting toy problems to play with, like the sudokus you might find in the back of a newspaper. The actual job is endless menial config changes, tedious debugging, and pointless daily meetings with rainman. I am seriously, seriously regretting not doing a software internship before needing to get a job - within a couple months I was having second thoughts.

This is part of my uncertainty and worry about changing - without actually doing some of the work for a bit, there's IMO non-negligible downside risk of liking Finance101, but hating the actual job. In an ideal world, I'd put my tech job on hold and go rotate through a few areas I'm interested in to see what it's like, but that's not really feasible. Is networking & writing up some research (for ER anyway) the most realistic way to get a feel for the job? For each role/area, how to best figure out what the bread & butter tedious parts are, and whether I could be vaguely happy doing that for a living? It's good to hear there's still hope at my advanced age - is ER particularly amenable to this, or are other areas equally possible?

Jan 13, 2022 - 1:54pm

yea i get your point about Finance101. I think talking to friends or people who are willing to candidly discuss what their actual day to day is like would is about as much as you can do to find out if it's something you'd be interested in.

your point on writing up research for ER is spot on. I did a similar method to land interviews and use as a point to network around. Shoot me a DM, would be happy to chat and bounce around ideas. I've been around the block re networking in different parts of Finance

Go all the way

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Jan 13, 2022 - 2:36pm

Why not be a Dev who actively manages his portfolio? Not everything is so one dimensional...

Hate coding? Be a product owner

Like Entrepreneurship? Develop a product in your spare time. Devs have it easier than bankers in that regard...

Jan 13, 2022 - 3:04pm

I was the kid spending my pocket money buying the Financial Times. When picking up pizza, I'd mentally start estimating revenue/profit based on customers, staff, etc. I recently found an old notebook and my 2 stock picks of 2008 were F and GOOG (what a weird kid).

Honestly, being interested in business/finance at a young age isn't really a weird thing (people on this site make it seem like it is) .  How come people who obsess over sports cards and players aren't seen as weird? The only weird thing is if you obsessed over it and didn't have other hobbies.

Jan 13, 2022 - 4:00pm

"I don't really need the money, but it's a bonus."

If this really is your situation start with asking your current employer if you can go part-time. My roommate in SF worked at Google. He was super burnt out so he asked if he could work in the Switzerland office for a year. They approved, he moved to Switzerland, he staved off the "burnout-ness" for another year. Once that year abroad was up, he asked if he could work part-time. They approved, he used the extra time to study and network. After a year of part-time, studying, and networking he put in a month's notice to Google. Now he's at a quant fund. I know you specifically mentioned this in unlikely for you but is probably best suited for your skills and just my opinion but I think you will enjoy it the most. Definitely don't go ER.

Jan 14, 2022 - 7:59pm

This is an interesting idea. I'm essentially already at the Switzerland stage of this, going part-time is something I hadn't considered. It'd be financially stupid for me to change anything for another half-year or so, but then part-time would definitely be possible. Why definitely not ER?

Jan 13, 2022 - 7:20pm

The MSF route is probably the best route for someone like you. Your UG GPA is horrible and you have no finance experience so you really need a reset. Going to a top school and STEM helps but it helps within a margin of error of maybe 0.3-0.4. 2.95 is too far from most other applicants who will be 3.8+. Get into a good MSF program (your STEM background is probably a plus there), crush your classes, get an internship or two and that will put you in a good place to recruit for whatever you like. 

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Most Helpful
Jan 14, 2022 - 1:03am

A lot of people can give way better answers to switch to finance than I can, but here's a few options if you do want to stay in the tech world:

1. MLE. If you want to, you can find the right type of firm who will take you and give you actually meaningful problems to solve with ML. Yes, most of it is BS work but if you do due diligence you can find a diamond place to be.

2. SRE/ DevOps/ Platform/ Infra/ Cloud Engineering. Goes by a ton of names and there's some nuances between them, but infra work pays very well and isn't coding. I would also lump in certain security roles in this category (ethical hacking). Less math though compared to MLE.

3. Product side of the house. Engineer -> Product is an effective, tried and true strategy that a lot of people enjoy. Don't get to flex your math as much, but you could have a more general oversight of teams.

Also sounds like you're a bit jaded and burnt out. Take a break, lots of people in tech do. Sounds like you're on a bad team too. I've had bad luck and good luck with teams myself- some total weirdos but most people are generally average and or cool. Work with some Canadians they're typically pretty laid back and sharp. At least all the ones I've met.

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
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Jan 14, 2022 - 3:38pm

Just my two cents on your first point: MLE is glorified by pet projects/hype just the same as CS101 glorifies SWE. The day-to-day of an MLE is cleaning and normalizing data then handing it off to researchers or fitting it into a pre-trained BERT sentiment analysis -esk model. The cool parts of ML require serious math skills learned from a PHD at a top university. For op, it sounds like this would be just as big a switch as getting into banking.

I agree with everything else though.

Jan 14, 2022 - 3:51pm

Solid point. I think it's also important to remember any job is always just a job. A lot of it will be boring, mundane, and trivial. The hope is that the exciting parts outweigh the rest of it and you're generally happy day to day (I don't think you need to "tap dance to work" but you shouldn't feel Sunday blues) 

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
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Jan 14, 2022 - 8:11pm

I've worked as, or very closely with, both MLE and cloud engineer, so feel like I have a reasonable idea about both. Agree the cool parts of ML need a top PHD, and that's essentially off the cards for me, there's not enough hours in the day for me to keep up with my friends who're doing ML in academia

Jan 14, 2022 - 1:20am

Also just to address the tech centric points for visibility (at least my $0.02) for anyone who might read this:

1. Yes, those parts suck. I hate unit testing and diving deep into some obscure bug you see in your logs when the browser crashes. Recreating it, putting in break points.. hell running the damn thing locally sucks. But there's a lot of specialties- if you're visual then focus on Frontend or Mobile where you can see you work and sometimes influence the design. Like challenging problems with making systems scale? Do infra work. Like making business logic make money? API development (aka product engineering). Like any of the above but wanna throw in market data? Go to a growth team. Lots of options.

2. Depends on where you work. I've dealt with that, I've also not. Depends on the company and even specific team within a company. It's a bit like saying finance is all soulless hardo sociopaths. Maybe in some teams, but I doubt that's the majority.

3. I think this depends on the company and team as well. I interact with product, marketing, sales, customer success, and engineering every day (not all in the same day, but at least 2 of the groups any given day). I enjoy it a lot, I think I'm getting better at scoping projects, setting expectations, and coming up with ideas to get quick wins while we design better solutions to be released later. I've also been at companies where I sit alone all day, so YMMV. 
 

4. That's like any career. Most people stagnate in middle management in most industries, tech just doesn't perpetually stagnate in management (it can) but more commonly as an individual contribute (IC) aka senior engineer. Versioning doesn't really change stuff that dramatically either. It's not that different than keeping up with other industries, the changes happen an inch at a time. However- if you hate Python programming it's painful to learn more. That's normal, try to find something else that interests you (it very may well be finance and not tech related at all.. you've got one life so do what's best for you)

5. Good dev with good attitude and good communication > genius dev with shit attitude and or shit communication (YMMV between companies though) 

6. I don't subscribe to the doomsday belief that SWEs will be paid like manual labors or random white collar jobs. Leverage and impact are too high for good devs. There WILL be stratification though, which were already seeing. Top devs get fat with all the cake, okay devs are in limbo, bad devs get left behind with minimal pay. Not different from law (pay at BigLaw is multiples of random public defender) or finance (PE vs local shop accounting). So for some, yeah doomsday. For those who put in the work, not so much.

7. Yeah spot on there. Europe seems to be catching up to the US though. Although absolute dollars are lower, they basically afford the same lifestyle as US (not looking at outliers like the 7 figure Netflix folks). But if you're happy being low level rich or upper middle class (in line with most doctors- not top neurosurgeons) then it's pretty similar. Also Canada is underrated. I have a few Canadian coworkers and they're living quite well. 

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
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Jan 14, 2022 - 12:48pm

Not different from law (pay at BigLaw is multiples of random public defender) or finance (PE vs local shop accounting).

This is sort of true but somewhat misleading.  The type of person entering PD would never enter big law.  The person entering big law could do other more lucrative things.  The person entering local shop accounting never had a chance at PE, the person in PE would never do local shop accounting.  For FAANG Dev employees they should be compared to similarly situated people in other industries.  

Jan 14, 2022 - 12:58pm

Software Engineering is pretty wide net. Right now it's not that difficult to get into FANG (comparatively to a Skadden/ Goldman/ Blackstone). I see that changing. I wouldn't be surprised if there's more of a "target school list" for FANG tier companies, there's more of a pattern with "2 years -> MS CS/ MBA -> Senior Engineer" pattern in the future.

There's lots of devs making $80k a year at random shops and only know a specific framework and not fundamentals. Then there's people who specialize a ton, have a good knowledge base of a wide net but dive deep in a specific topic clearing $500k (in some rare instances clearing 700 too). It's not monochromatic like "everyone makes 150 and caps at 300" 

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
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  • Analyst 2 in HF - Macro
Jan 14, 2022 - 2:54am

IB/PE probably wouldn't be for you given your background, dislike of menial tasks, and passion for markets IMO. I don't think you'd be a tough sell for a quant-oriented role at a HF though. You can start as a full-on dev or quant and start moving more towards a hybrid role as you get experience and learn how to manage risk. 

Keep learning, following markets, making real (or paper) trades, and networking so that when you get in front of somebody you have the chance to impress them. IMO the HF world (at least away from fundamental mangers like Tiger), hardly cares about arbitrary GPA cutoffs and I would definitely be interested enough to interview someone with your type of background if we were looking.

Edit: Wanted to make sure that I didn't downplay the quantum leap of risk you'll be taking though. There are no easy days in public markets and your job/the existence of your fund is constantly at risk. It can be extremely intellectually (as well as financially) rewarding, but also harrowing during bad times and there's a chance you'll get booted out after 6-12 months.

Another option that might be appealing, if you're not overly opposed to it, would be to go into something crypto-related. There's a huge exodus of talent from TradFi and Big Tech moving into crypto and success in that field requires a combination of financial savvy as well as developer experience for optimal chances of success.

Jan 14, 2022 - 11:43am

Don't disagree that markets/HF seems like a logical path for OP given his background but his GPA absolutely sucks to have any shot of being considered. Shops like JS/D.E. Shaw don't take a ton of undergrads and the few they do have like 3.9+ STEM at Princeton/Harvard. Even "Tier2/3" shops aren't going to really entertain someone with anything much lower, because there are tons of Master's/PHDs trying to get these seats. 

Edit: Info for Citadel is outdated see comments below

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  • Prospect in S&T - Other
Jan 14, 2022 - 12:24pm

I think ppl way way overestimate the difficulty of making into citadel or sth bruh. I go to a mid-tier ivy and personally know three friends who are going to Citadel and I don't have many friends (lol).  two of these people could not get any offers anywhere else decent. They actually got turned down by every bb/mm sales and trading program and other hedge funds for the entire 7 months period they were recruiting. In fact, many SnT programs didn't even give them interviews. They were the last of my group of friends to get a job. For example most of us finished recruiting by October. They only just got their offers. Their GPAs are great but it's cus of how much they cheated on their courses during covid and to this day. Literally just copying hw from each other in their cis and math courses and doing exams in groups. Lol rarely take undergrads. Just from personal experience,they take a lot of undergrads from my midtier ivy with a meddling engineering department. I can imagine them hiring even more from better schools. The ppl they take are literally 100% indian/chinese international students. It honestly seems like BBs and banks optimize for intangibles/personality/passion for markets in their interviews and somehow miss these "cream of the crop" candidates. Tbh sometimes i think they dodged a bullet lol. 

  • Analyst 2 in HF - Macro
Jan 14, 2022 - 1:25pm

Not as familiar with JS/DE Shaw, but I got an interview for a FO role with Citadel as an undergrad with a 3.4 in a non-technical major at a top 10 (but not HYPS) school. 

Generally speaking, I'd rather interview the kid with a 2.9 in math/theoretical physics from MIT than someone with a 3.9 in anything else. At least I wouldn't filter them out automatically. If you're capable of graduating with close to a 3.0 in math/physics from a Caltech/MIT tier school you're probably in the top 0.01% of intelligence in the entire world and have massive balls to boot.

At the very least its worth an interview. After that it's all about how you think about markets, and I couldn't care less about school and GPA.  

Jan 14, 2022 - 8:33pm

A couple years ago I applied and got interviews from JS and from a similar (but slightly less prestigious) shop, but got cut in the 4th & final round, respectively. So I think I could probably get offers from similar but less competitive places if I got some interview prep books, etc. But when I look at the people I know who are still there, they're an order of magnitude better at math than me, so I don't know its worth the effort just to be there for a few months

Jan 14, 2022 - 9:48pm

IB/PE are likely the furthest out of reach anyway. Markets-related roles seem to have greater career risk, but do appear more interesting to me. Back in 2020 around when WTI went negative, I was trying to see if I could rent out swimming pools around Cushing and take physical delivery (didn't happen), but that was probably the highlight of my month regardless...good times :D

From what I've read though, it seems like moving dev --> research/trader is very tough, and people often get stuck there - any sense of how frequent that is? I'm risk-averse, but I think far less so than most people. For a given average, year-to-year earnings volatility is essentially irrelevant to me (other than increased average tax and probably lower earnings when expected future returns are higher), and I don't care too much about losing or changing jobs in and of itself. I'd be more concerned about long-term career risk where either I turn out to be bad (or just unlucky) and become unhireable, I don't like it, or the whole industry gets squeezed to zero. Any thoughts on those risks, or how to mitigate them?

Crypto is very interesting, but AFAICT the most interesting roles where both finance and dev experience are truly useful are founder or early employee positions, and I'm not sure I want to go through another tech startup just yet

Jan 14, 2022 - 4:23am

Why don't you consider venture capital? Imagine it you've built product and stuff, you'd be of some value there? Another long way to get there could be starting something of your own and then going the VC way? This involves taking some financial risk though

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Jan 14, 2022 - 10:17pm

Honestly, I'm just not that interested in VC, it seems like a lot of running around and spray&pray. Tech PE or GE, where there's something already there to analyse, might be better, but as far as I understand would be essentially impossible for me to get to. I know a lot of people would kill to get into VC, and it doesn't seem like a bad gig, but I'd rather do something else right now. They usually don't hire devs in any case, but rather successful founders or sometimes product managers

Jan 14, 2022 - 5:37am

I'm in a top FAANG, have a background in pure stats and did two banking internships prior. Currently working as a technical analyst. Have you considered looking at some of the middle-technical roles? Product Analyst, or even some of the more technical reporting roles in Finance/Strategy can be quite a good blend where it's more technical than IBD but you still sit with people that are social. 

  • 1
Jan 14, 2022 - 10:36pm

From a very quick google, technical/product analyst looks like a cross between a product manager and data scientist? Close to the PLM side of the product line management / product owner split I've heard some teams have? Wasn't even on my radar, thanks

Jan 18, 2022 - 5:23am

BI and large parts of Strategy/Analyst/Finance are in general a pretty good gig I find. Stay away from the CorpDev or Controllership/Commercial stuff.

Good people; pay isn't Data Science or pure Eng, but I really could not stand working with those teams day-in-day-out even for a 60% bump. 

  • 1
Jan 14, 2022 - 3:54pm

Hmm... reading this post, a lot comes to mind:

1. You sound like a younger version of my dad. He was burnt out with engineering so switched into teaching. Turns out he didn't enjoy babysitting high schoolers all day and the lower pay was more frustrating than he expected. He's back in engineering and has been enjoying it ever since he found a maintenance gig for a defense company where he pretty much doesn't have any responsibilities.

2. If I were you, I'd take some time off then try to make some small changes and see how much they help out your situation. As others are saying, if you're tired of coding you could jump on the product or management side of things.

3. Whatever pain you were feeling that pushed you towards writing this post yesterday will only show itself once in awhile. You can choose to ignore it or make real progress towards a better life with gradual improvements during the moments when you can't feel the suffering very much. Don't be too brash - especially during the times this hurts the most. That'll only make things worse.

4. I'm currently at a mid-tier prop shop (think Akuna, DRW, IMC, ...) and can confirm that many of the things you're frustrated about in SWE still exist in PT. The silver lining is that, imo, the work is much more interesting. If you're really going to switch into finance, you'll probably want to go all the way to some sort of banking.

Idk... feel free to PM me if you have any specific questions. I feel like I understand your situation pretty well because of what my dad went through and the fact that I've done internships at mid-tier FAANG and am now ft in PT. I'm still pretty young though and enjoy my job so maybe not.

Jan 15, 2022 - 3:54am

Thanks for this. Some assorted thoughts:

  1. I've been incredibly fortunate to go in a few years from a state of "FML, I need a job and cash now to put a proper roof over my head" to today being able to do essentially any job and still retire with more than I would ever spend. I'm no tech billionaire, and I'm not even rich, but I no longer have any interest in the stuff which as a kid I dreamt I'd buy once I "made it". I could quite easily spend more, but shockingly little of the spending has actually made me any happier. So at this point, the obvious answer is to, like, quit my job, do cocaine and bang models. Or more realistically get a more fulfilling job like teaching, which would pay less, but that wouldn't matter, because I could still consume exactly the same amount. High school teacher wouldn't be for me (agree with your dad, seems like it's advanced babysitting), but I've toyed with the idea of firefighter, sports coach, and starting a llama farm. But I think I would be frustrated doing any of those, largely because of lower pay. At one level, this seems completely, utterly insane. Maybe it is. Why did your dad find the low pay frustrating? Was it a case of wanting to buy things, but knowing he couldn't do so responsibly? Or something else? When I look at the older people I know who are very wealthy, all of them retired before 65, but also well after they had more money than they could ever spend. From what I can tell, reasonably high-earning people tend not to retire when their NW is 25/30/33 (take your pick) times their annual spending, but rather when their work is in some sense complete. For some, that's after 30 years, for some that's never. I think I'd regret just checking out at this early stage of my life, even if it was to go be the best, most accomplished llama farmer I could be. Even if I never use any of the extra money I earn, I want to play the game, but I now have the financial space to start maneuvering to something I find interesting, rather than just the first group of people who'll give me some cash.
  2. Went and did a euro tour a few months ago, xmas markets in Berlin are wonderful! Also took several more weeks off for the holidays. I don't currently feel particularly burdened or burned out by the hours themselves. Product is definitely on my radar
  3. Good advice. I'm trying to look as much as possible before I leap. These are still early days.
  4. Are you a PT SWE or on the research/trading side? If SWE, what makes your current work more interesting than your FAANG work? If research/trading, I'd be interested to hear exactly which of my SWE issues you're experiencing

Thanks, will PM if I have any more personal questions! I have faith that despite being so young, you may understand somebody who's attained the old age of 24 :P

  • Associate 2 in IB-M&A
Jan 14, 2022 - 4:19pm

Understand that many on this website really don't like MBAs, but there are specific programs -  Value Investing Program at Columbia comes to mind - that place really well in the public equities side of things. I went to CBS, VIP accepts something like a dozen or 2 people (out of 700) every year (it's only the 2nd year I believe). It's super rigorous but you get 1 on 1 interaction with top HFs and PMs, as well as targeted VIP job listings. Usually MBA is not great for HF placement but certain programs do act as accelerators (I'm sure there are others among top schools). 

You might ask - why doesn't everyone go for it? - many do, but VIP requires intense amount of rigor and classwork during your 2nd MBA year. Grades actually matter because you need to maintain a high average (CBS has grade non-disclosure, so most students just focus on getting what you'd call a B) and the coursework is very difficult. As a result, you are working really hard your 2nd year when most classmates are spending their time hopping between continents and living the life. 

Anyway, with your credentials, my 2cents is that you could use Bschool as a full reset and accelerator in the world of hedge funds. 

EDIT: Re-reading your post, the finance areas you list are, frankly, all over the map. Rx, structuring and Asset management are 3 different worlds. It's not a bad thing to not know what you want to do, but to make this leap you need to be super targeted in your approach and have a very good sense of where you want to land. Would look to leverage your top alma mater to do some coffee chats with those in the industry to learn more

Jan 14, 2022 - 4:32pm

A lot of your observations regarding life at a FAANG and software engineering in general are correct.  For me, software engineering itself is enjoyable, but software engineering as part of a team at a company much less so, primarily for the reasons you mentioned.

That said, I'm not sure the grass is that much greener on the finance side.  Finance has its own drudgeries, and the future is not particularly rosy for many of the fields in which you expressed interest.  The people in finance are much more sociable and will feel much less foreign though, I will give you that.

Have you considered Product Management?  It would allow you to move beyond the code and focus more on the business and financial impact of the products you're building while still leveraging your technical expertise.

  • 3
  • PM in HF - Other
Jan 14, 2022 - 10:50pm

No offense man but you are the typical highly paid tech guy who has golden handcuffs…"everything needs a paycut, the work is dull, its just a job, im smart but not too smart, my classmates were math gurus, everyone is math gurus with accents, im too old to back to school …"

Lets be real here everyone knows the option you have and the path you have to take. You have quant skills and enjoy finance. You already said you interviewed at the shops. You need to just take the risk and stop worrying. Goto citadel/js/mm funds and do your 1-3 years, stop with this crap my friends were math gurus how do I keep up the same damn way you kept up in SWE there is math gurus in your firm and past firms too. You do not need to be a math god to excel at those places just sometimes math gods do better than others some like your current career burn out and never evolve. Just do it man. Yes a place like Citadel fires people in 6 months and most dont last 2 years but guess what they dont exit to being garbage men either they come out with a strong resume and tons of options available to them. Its very similar to BB banking for analysts.

  • PM in HF - Other
Jan 14, 2022 - 10:59pm

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