PhD Physics to Quant


by oreliphan
Tags: physics, quant
twofish-quant
twofish-quant is offline
#73
Feb12-12, 09:20 PM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by gdwebb85 View Post
I have ~1-1.5 years left to finish my physics PhD. When should I start sending out resumes? Also, where does one go to find open positions?
Start with the www.phds.org, www.efinancialcareers.com, www.wilmott.com, www.dice.com. One way of narrowing things down is to look for jobs in NYC. Also try to get in touch with alumni.

I'd start e-mailing them out now. I think I ended up sending a 100 or so resumes on my last job search. What you are looking for right now are people that are willing to call you back, and if you have a list of a dozen people that are willing to talk to you, that's a good start when you end up with your degree. Also, it gives you a year to tweak your resume.
twofish-quant
twofish-quant is offline
#74
Feb12-12, 09:36 PM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by shoehorn View Post
which is a rare skill for a physics PhD to have - you'll have very little difficulty in getting interviews by directly submitting your resume to this type of fund.
Yup. But then you end up in the Kafka world in which it's not clear where to set your resume. Algo hedge funds are notorious for their secrecy which means that they will hide where to set your resume to, and in a lot of situations they will try to hide their existence (i.e. they won't even have a web site).

One funny (in a dark humor sort of way) is that financial companies are often closed-lipped for legal reasons. Making an unauthorized public offerring can get you in serious trouble, and so if you publicly post that you need people to work on trading Elbonian yak options, you may get a nasty call from the SEC asking why you are publicizing the fact that you are trading yak options.

Despite what you see in the movies, people in finance live in total fear of the regulators, and getting a polite call from the SEC is something that people would rather not deal with.

In fact, I'd be interested in talking to anyone who ticks all of these boxes, especially if they're in possession of a newly minted PhD.
Something that physics Ph.D.'s should do is to talk to anyone that even hints that they can use their resume.
xepma
xepma is offline
#75
Feb13-12, 04:05 AM
P: 527
I found this guide extremely useful (even though I haven't planned on switching):

http://www.markjoshi.com/downloads/advice.pdf
ann3
ann3 is offline
#76
Apr16-12, 07:43 PM
P: 3
First let me say thank so much for this discussion. I read the whole thread and most of my questions were answered. I have some new ones though:

1. I will graduate next year with a PhD in Quantum Chemistry and MS in ECE. I know my way around numerical methods, simulations, etc. My C++ is rudimentary at best but I've done some insane things in FORTRAN (may have been "saner" if I used C... but legacy code... you know how it is). I am wondering if QC will be off-putting or unfamiliar in the quant circles? It's really basically a physics degree given by the chem dept - we do quantum theory, electronic structure, non-linear eq solvers, application is to physical chemistry and spectroscopy though. We even "live" in the physics building (instead of chem). What is the best way to explain this to the prospective employers?

2. I have a real hard time deciding what to do post graduation. My defense is rapidly approaching and so is the state of panic about the future. Having a repetitive or a boring job terrifies me more than anything. What kind of quant position type reward research-oriented people the most? Will I be given time to try out new things? even if some of these result in dead ends?

3. Not really a question but a reason. I'm a NYC native and having lived in all corners of US (HI including), I'd like to return to my favorite city - this is what gave me an idea to explore finance as a career. I considered it once as an option at CMU, I was there around the time when that major was coming together, but ultimately chose to stick with the College of Science. I like doing numerical models - so I assume I will like doing whatever quants do. And NY is a big + for me - all family and friends still there.

Finally, not to be too forward, but I visit NY every summer so if one of you guys (or gals) would let me buy them a cup of coffee and talk to me about their job/life/any interesting (non-secret) problems they've worked on, I would be infinitely grateful.

you can email me at melnichu at qtp ufl edu

Thanks!
Robert1986
Robert1986 is offline
#77
Apr16-12, 07:59 PM
P: 828
I am beginning grad school for math in the fall. Finance has always interested me (I began college life as an econ/finance major until I took calc and liked it too much) and I am considering the possibility of perhaps getting into this field after I graduate. Now, I know lots of physics Ph.D.s go into quant stuff, but are there also math guys? And would I have a good chance of getting such a position? If this is something that I am planning to do, what kinds of classes should I take? Of course, the first year is going to be the basic foundation stuff, but I'll have to actually start choosing classes the second year.
twofish-quant
twofish-quant is offline
#78
Apr18-12, 05:38 AM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by ann3 View Post
1. I will graduate next year with a PhD in Quantum Chemistry and MS in ECE. I know my way around numerical methods, simulations, etc. My C++ is rudimentary at best but I've done some insane things in FORTRAN (may have been "saner" if I used C... but legacy code... you know how it is). I am wondering if QC will be off-putting or unfamiliar in the quant circles?
People will care about your math and computer skills. What particular type of Ph.D. you get is less important, although there is a bias toward computational and applied physics and math.

What is the best way to explain this to the prospective employers?
Most of the managers in quant circles are technical people, so you'd explain it the same way you would to another physics Ph.D. In order to get to the managers, you have to get through the gatekeepers, and the trick there is to put some keywords so that they match your resume with what they've been told to look for.

My defense is rapidly approaching and so is the state of panic about the future. Having a repetitive or a boring job terrifies me more than anything.
I've never been bored. I've been frustrated, angry, terrified, ecstatic, exhausted. Everything but bored. Boredom is not a problem. The problem is when things are exciting in the wrong ways.

What kind of quant position type reward research-oriented people the most? Will I be given time to try out new things? even if some of these result in dead ends?
This is more a function of the people that you work with.

I'm a NYC native and having lived in all corners of US (HI including), I'd like to return to my favorite city - this is what gave me an idea to explore finance as a career.
That's very good. The issue here is that practically all finance jobs for physics Ph.D.'s in the United States are in the NYC-area. This is a big problem if you don't want to move to NYC. NYC has a lot of good things. However, you probably know already that you'll be paying a 45+% marginal tax rate.
BrunoIdeas
BrunoIdeas is offline
#79
Aug15-13, 07:46 PM
P: 14
Hi, we've been talking of salaries as 90k , 135k, etc. But is that NET salary or does one have to subtract taxes, etc. ? In such case, how much does one have to subtract? About what percentage?

Thanks everyone.
Locrian
Locrian is offline
#80
Aug15-13, 09:30 PM
P: 1,695
People typically discuss salary on a pre-tax basis. For 6 figure incomes, you can typically expect to lose 30%-50% of your income to taxes. However, that will depend heavily on several factors, the most important being whether you're married and what their income is, if any.
AccAcc
AccAcc is offline
#81
Aug17-13, 07:39 PM
P: 41
I'm hoping to make the transition when I graduate in five months, and I hope to live in the Chicago area. Is there hope to make that work without having a direct connection at a local finance company? I'm trying to get in touch with headhunters now, but it seems ambiguous whether or not they are interested in people that are new to the field. I'm progressing with the all of the "required" and recommended readings for making the transition, but the general stories that I hear make it seem like you won't get a job unless you have a direct connection to somebody that is in the industry.
Locrian
Locrian is offline
#82
Aug17-13, 08:24 PM
P: 1,695
You should try to use the next 5 months to make those connections. I don't think they're strictly required, but some contacts in the industry can only help you.
AccAcc
AccAcc is offline
#83
Aug17-13, 10:44 PM
P: 41
Quote Quote by Locrian View Post
You should try to use the next 5 months to make those connections. I don't think they're strictly required, but some contacts in the industry can only help you.
Do you think it is worth it to ever apply directly to a firm without connections, or should I spend my time only going through connections or headhunters? Do they hire this "early" relative to when I can start? Mark Joshi's book suggests otherwise, but I'm facing a bit of a timeline mismatch; I have a good connection to a well-paying postdoc job that interviews more than the two-months in advance that Joshi says firms hire within.

There's also exact uncertainty about when I will graduate. If I don't hit early December, then campus is closed for a month, essentially, and I'm stuck in the Spring semester with questionable funding and an advisor that has a hard time saying when is enough to submit a paper.

The entire logistics of getting a non-postdoc job right at graduation are a mess, and something I never see people discuss good answers to. Most end up postdocs for a few months or a year, or have a temp teaching job, or have financial support for a loved one to smooth over a month or three.
Locrian
Locrian is offline
#84
Aug18-13, 09:54 AM
P: 1,695
Quote Quote by AccAcc View Post
Do you think it is worth it to ever apply directly to a firm without connections,
Well sure - very low investment, but rather unlikely to get a response. What's the downside? You're not wrapping your resume around a brick and throwing it through the window, right?

It sounds as if you're not in Chicago now; if you were, the best bet would be to call a few people there and ask for informational interviews - take them to lunch. Even if you're not, you could just call a few people and see if they'll talk to you. They're likely very busy, so keep the initial contact very brief and to the point.

There's a reason the whole contacts thing works so well. People like talking about themselves. People like "discovering" new talent. They prefer hiring someone they already have a relationship with. Many people like helping other people just. . to help them. In your earlier post you made it sound as if contacts were something you were born with. The fact that you're five months ahead of schedule is great partially because it may allow you to network some.

Best of luck, and please keep us updated on what works and what doesn't work for you.
AccAcc
AccAcc is offline
#85
Aug18-13, 12:46 PM
P: 41
Quote Quote by Locrian View Post
Well sure - very low investment, but rather unlikely to get a response. What's the downside? You're not wrapping your resume around a brick and throwing it through the window, right?

It sounds as if you're not in Chicago now; if you were, the best bet would be to call a few people there and ask for informational interviews - take them to lunch. Even if you're not, you could just call a few people and see if they'll talk to you. They're likely very busy, so keep the initial contact very brief and to the point.

There's a reason the whole contacts thing works so well. People like talking about themselves. People like "discovering" new talent. They prefer hiring someone they already have a relationship with. Many people like helping other people just. . to help them. In your earlier post you made it sound as if contacts were something you were born with. The fact that you're five months ahead of schedule is great partially because it may allow you to network some.

Best of luck, and please keep us updated on what works and what doesn't work for you.
Thanks for the encouragement!

I'm actually at one of the nearby labs, but live further out, so meeting with people on workdays takes a bit of finagling. Many have suggested aiming for informational meetings, but I don't really know who to aim for, or how to initiate, or under what context or pretense to really push it.

"Five Months Ahead of Schedule" is kind of optimistic, as that's basically "When I'm losing my job"! Things should be sorted it far in advance of that.
AccAcc
AccAcc is offline
#86
Sep5-13, 05:21 PM
P: 41
What are the "correct' answers to why I'm interested I'm interested in doing Finance when, and what should I include in my cover letters to make me seem sincere? I'm leaving a field of a physics that actually has a great job market, so I'm not doing this just because Plan A failed.

Also, should I include that I am US Citizen in either my cover letter or my resume? Where/how is the tactful way to say it?
Vanadium 50
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#87
Sep5-13, 06:50 PM
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Ah yes, sincerity. If you can fake that...you have it made.

Why are you interested in doing finance? And can't you just say that?
AlephZero
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#88
Sep5-13, 07:46 PM
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Quote Quote by AccAcc View Post
Also, should I include that I am US Citizen in either my cover letter or my resume? Where/how is the tactful way to say it?
Why do you need to be "tactful" about it?

IMO The obvious place to put your nationality and citizenship is right after your name and address at the top of your CV. If somebody doesn't want to employ a US citizen for some reason, trying to hide the fact won't change the situation!
Locrian
Locrian is offline
#89
Sep5-13, 08:04 PM
P: 1,695
It can be very hard to explain why you want to work in a new career in the very brief time you have in a cover letter or initial interview. Frankly, I advise against much explanation along those lines.

For the cover letter, touch on three things: 1) That you will be working in the financial sector in the future. 2) Why you want to work for that particular firm. 3) What you'll do for them.

Not necessarily in that order. And be brief. (There's a part of me that thinks you actually state those in the reverse order - 3,2,1 - even if it sounds a bit strange).

Use similar language in the initial interview. Focus on the future as much as possible.

Keep in mind that very few employers really care why you want to change careers. They might be interested, or curious, but they don't care. What they do care about is that you want to work for them, that you bring something to the job, and that you'll stay once you're there.

If they ask more than once about the career change be sure to not say anything negative. Say something positive about finance, state clearly that you will not be working in physics in the future, and focus on what you'll bring to the job.
AccAcc
AccAcc is offline
#90
Sep7-13, 10:20 AM
P: 41
Thanks for all the help and responses:

Quote Quote by AlephZero View Post
Why do you need to be "tactful" about it?

IMO The obvious place to put your nationality and citizenship is right after your name and address at the top of your CV. If somebody doesn't want to employ a US citizen for some reason, trying to hide the fact won't change the situation!
I'm not entirely sure if it is taboo, as it is to include your clearance status when applying for jobs that require security clearance. For things that Ph.D.s in Physics apply to, citizenship status wouldn't seem out of place, but I'm aiming fairly broad with my job hunt.


Quote Quote by Vanadium 50 View Post
Ah yes, sincerity. If you can fake that...you have it made.

Why are you interested in doing finance? And can't you just say that?
I think that is sufficient, but I know that many of the Physics->Finance people kind of bounce out of the interview process when flubbing that question. Many make the transition because of money, or because it is there, but it is something that I'm genuinely interested in.

Quote Quote by Locrian View Post
It can be very hard to explain why you want to work in a new career in the very brief time you have in a cover letter or initial interview. Frankly, I advise against much explanation along those lines.

For the cover letter, touch on three things: 1) That you will be working in the financial sector in the future. 2) Why you want to work for that particular firm. 3) What you'll do for them.

Not necessarily in that order. And be brief. (There's a part of me that thinks you actually state those in the reverse order - 3,2,1 - even if it sounds a bit strange).

Use similar language in the initial interview. Focus on the future as much as possible.

Keep in mind that very few employers really care why you want to change careers. They might be interested, or curious, but they don't care. What they do care about is that you want to work for them, that you bring something to the job, and that you'll stay once you're there.

If they ask more than once about the career change be sure to not say anything negative. Say something positive about finance, state clearly that you will not be working in physics in the future, and focus on what you'll bring to the job.
Sounds like good advice.


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