People in S&T

I came into my BB firm with a major inferiority complex - I don't have a STEM background, I didn't intern with the group, and I'm from a non-target school. I got offered a credit trading position, it's not distressed debt or HY, which I heard have cooler people, but I'm still shocked at how seemingly weird the people on my desk seem.

I'm sure they're good at what they do, it's a well regarded desk on the street, probably top 5, but they're not the MIT computer science or Princeton math types. Just a bunch of not cool dudes from non-target schools.

Is this surprising? I thought either 1) they'd be lacrosse players with tons of confidence from Duke or Virginia or 2) STEM majors from Ivy's, the types of people who enjoy explaining the Greeks and convexity while at a bar. 

It seems like they're neither and are just average. I'm not trying to knock them, they seem nice and again, I'm sure they're good otherwise they wouldn't be top 5 on the street in their product. But am I missing something here?   

Comments (24)

  • Associate 1 in VC
Oct 7, 2021 - 10:38pm

They're not hardo target nerds and they're not lax chads. Must be losers.

Oct 7, 2021 - 10:44pm

Having had experience working with the "prestigious" BB crowd as well as the "non target" physical trading crowd, I prefer the latter.  

People who don't take pride in their social status (even though they tend to earn more than their bank counterparts) tend to be more approachable, and have less of that toxic psychopath vibe where they expect you to suck up to them. 

Oct 7, 2021 - 11:29pm

You are.

People of all types sit on desks.  The stereotypical "trader" type pushed by the fallacy class on WSO, would have you believe that unless you fall into a certain category, you will never get the opportunity or be good.

There are only two rules to being a good trader.  Make money and in this enlightened age, be a decent human being.

Over the many, many years traders have been old, young, male, female, gay, straight, white, black, yellow, ivy league, former truck driver, nose pickers, triathletes, Magic the gathering players and lax bros.

Does not matter at all.

What matters is what YOU do with the opportunity you have been blessed with and what YOU do to be the best you can be.



  • 5
  • 1
Oct 8, 2021 - 1:41am

You're missing the point of life, god do people really walk around worrying about nonsense like that. You and everyone else is going to die at some point, lets get over this idea of being 'cool' or 'average.' Everyone is average or below average at something.

Most Helpful
Oct 8, 2021 - 9:44am

I can just add this, people who know their shit and are good traders usually tend to not show off. They are confident in their approach and in themselves. Caveat being most of my exposure to these people has been in physical trading. Of course there are arrogant people in physical as well but they are lower in number given physicals is also about managing relationships and if people hate you they will screw you when the market gives the opportunity.

Whether a desk is "cool" or not is basically labelled by people looking in from the outside. Whether you trade delta one products, options, wheat or pork bellies all that matters is can you make money. What I've found is traders respect that over the particular product you are trading given the different dynamics of the different trading desks.

  • 6
Oct 9, 2021 - 2:47pm

Why are you guys talking bout physical, this guy clearly stated credit trading not commods. OP I guess it took you 23+ years on this planet to learn that stereotypes don't really reflect reality?

  • Junior Trader in S&T - Comm
Oct 10, 2021 - 10:11am

you just mad you not in physical trading. They are giving good advice from their experiences. Dont see any other credit traders helping out yet.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Oct 10, 2021 - 11:32am

Op are you a stem superstar from MIT?

Were you Captain of the lacrosse team at UVA?

What qualifies you to put down these "average " people that hired you?

  • Intern in HF - Other
Oct 10, 2021 - 12:21pm

As a MIT STEM student, going there really puts things into perspective between being a genius and just being "smart."  As one who's just "smart," it was tough realizing your own intellectual limitations.  That being said, plenty of us just "smart" kids are doing well.  Most of my friends are holding offers with TC packages ranging from 200k - 400k.  

Anyway, stop wasting your time trying to understand your coworkers in an odd way and just work on getting better yourself.

  • Intern in Consulting
Oct 17, 2021 - 9:32pm

this is so true. going to a top school showed me I'm just an average 'smart' with a good work ethic. there are true geniuses with some natural talent who also work hard, and they're just on a different level

Oct 13, 2021 - 9:15am

I learn on the side that you'll meet tons of diff ppl, outside the MIT stems and Duke sportsman, on the desk

I'll add by saying I kindda understand why some may try to knock them. When I was inexperienced and if I were in your position, I would pose the question how did a bunch of average people end up being top 5 on the street. 

My opinion is that they're riding on the bank's brand. Very easy to be top 5 when market goes to you for a 100bps wide trade just because your bank only offers the product or you're bank X

Oct 30, 2021 - 8:51pm

> how did a bunch of average people end up being top 5 on the street

The premise could be mistaken. They could not be average, but OP might not be in a position to see what makes them exceptional.

Nov 8, 2021 - 4:59am

Ok. You're right. In the universe of all applicants to BBs, these said ppl on the desk are NOT average.

An argument can be made in the universe of all science graduates from top schools who applied, there will exist an average person in the set of said ppl on this particular desk. Average person got in because he fit well in the team and was coachable. But he isn't able to push the boundaries of innovation and come up with a mathematical approach to derisk a 100M notional position with the market moving against your book

Oct 19, 2021 - 9:12am

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