I'm so sick and tired of EVERY SINGLE quant firm doing their first round of resume screening by searching for olympiad experience. It was HIGHSCHOOL, get over it already. The ability to get to USACO Camp is barely harder than doing a Leetcode hard, but for some reason every recruiter views it as a sign of god-given talent.

Don't even get me started on all the headhunters and company bios that brag about "We have multiple IMO Medalists!!!!" Like... Congrats on hiring some kid from the Azerbaijan Olympiad team who was prepped his entire life only to get a bronze and now then barely cracks the top 100 in the class at MIT or Harvard???

If you didn't happen to start studying for your olympiads when you were 12, you might as well give up on trying to get Quant interviews. Even if you do somehow squeeze your way in, you will always be looked at as an outsider, a fraud - someone without the god given innate talent to study your way to the Democratic Republic of ****'s IOI team.

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Comments (13)

Most Helpful
Aug 24, 2021 - 1:42am

This is blatantly untrue. Butthurt much? Lots of quant shops will give first round to anybody doing math/physics/cs from top 25 US, top 10 EU places (idk about Asia tbf) and from that point on it doesn't matter if you're an Olympiad medalist or not as long as you can solve the problems.

It might look  biased towards IMO participants since they get through a lot more often than others. But on average they're just way better problem solvers under time pressure (way more practice, especially with combinatorics, which gives you intuition to nail discrete probability questions) than most other undergrads even at top universities, and would 99% of the time get the offers even if they actively hid their IMO involvement throughout the process.

I know people who got offers for trading at quite a few of the top tier shops (across NYC, London and Amsterdam offices) and none attended IMO. I think one of them qualified for USAMO but did shit, another qualified for BMO2 and was also unimpressive. They all just had pretty good grades from strong universities and grinded all the classic interview books plus some statistics and programming.

Aug 24, 2021 - 1:44pm

Though I gotta say, MIT/Ivy/brand name applicants get special treatment in interviewing though. Cough: De Shaw

UMich/NYU/WashU_st_Louis/Berkley/UCLA people have to go through a lot more BS

It's even more prevalent in hedgefund recruiting where they want Ivy-educated or similar for a recruiter/marketer to consider you unless you have a stellar track record of pnl 

  • 2
Aug 24, 2021 - 3:02pm

I agree that for hedge funds there's a bigger weighting on academic prestige, it definitely helps draw in and keep capital. Prop shops don't have this external pressure though, and have plenty of opportunities for top students at non elite universities to go and make a killing.

Prop shop net profits aren't too far off from hedge funds anyway, and good market makers occasionally murder it. Last year was probably a huge outlier but retail flow is still growing

Aug 25, 2021 - 2:48am

I think there's truth to it, but it can't be helped. The IMO bias is less to do with the line on your CV, but the fact that you have been prepped to do the problems which interviewers throw at you. These quantitative problems are just simpler versions of IMO questions, so passing these interviews is more a sign of practice rather than intelligence. While the candidates at IMO do often deserve their place at a top quant/prop shop (and not any random place like a Goldman quant which is everywhere), there are many brilliant people out there that never got the resources to join such competitions at a young age.

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Aug 24, 2021 - 1:39pm

still mad about being bad at math in high school eh?

Aug 24, 2021 - 6:23pm

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