Quantifying Quantitative Finance Careers

Earlier this fall, MCS hosted a panel focused on different roles in the field of quantitative finance. Our panelists shared their experiences working in trading, research and engineering roles. Read along for insights on internship/entry level recruiting, interviewing and more.


After spending a couple summers as a software engineering intern at Google, current senior Catherine Huang decided to explore the dynamic and fast-paced field of quantitative trading through a summer internship at IMC Trading. While she had participated in Jane Street’s Insight Trading program in January 2022, she admitted to still feeling intimidated by the intense a/b trading space. She noted that while the industry is “stressful by design” she felt that her internship at IMC trading helped her build character and resilience. Her advice to those looking to enter the field is to explore (for younger students) and to reflect on the reasons for choosing the field (for upperclassmen). It is notable that quantitative fields are well paid, but Catherine made sure to emphasize that many people enter the quantitative finance fields because of the opportunity to solve intellectual challenges in a fast-paced environment.

Andrew, a ’22 alum who works as a Quantitative Researcher at Two Sigma, also noted the allure of the unique intellectual challenges posed by quantitative finance. Starting down a more academic path, Andrew felt his past research experience was great preparation for his role as a quant researcher. He noted that Two Sigma is very academic and there are lots of PhDs employed there, even though an advanced degree is not required. He eagerly explained what it is like to work with data sets in industry, which are much larger than in academic settings. He noted that he even enjoyed the interview process for quant research—”It was like hypothesis testing!”  Reflecting on his recruitment process, he sagely notes: “If you enjoy the interview process and questions asked, there’s a good chance you will enjoy the job.”

Eric, ’22 alum and current software engineer at Citadel Securities, also commented on the interview process. Noting the challenging nature of technical interviews, he encouraged students to keep going. “I failed many more interviews than I’ve passed; it is a stamina race, not easy, but stick with it. The worse thing you can do is not apply/interview because you are afraid you won’t do well.”  For Eric, recruiting for SWE roles in quantitative finance was similar to the process for big tech companies. While he chimed in with the standard advice to practice Leet Code, he also noted that attending career fairs was extremely helpful. Meeting recruiters at fairs “really translated in later interview stages and allowed for more meaningful conversations. Networking can take you far if your name isn’t already in the pipeline.”

In fact, all three panelists echoed the importance of career fairs and networking for succeeding in the application process for quantitative roles. Andrew shared that “fairs give you a lot of helpful context – problems the company faces, what the interview structure is like.” Quantitative interviews have a reputation of being very difficult, but the panelists encouraged students to seek out support from their community. Do mock interviews with upperclassmen and alumni. Join relevant student organizations and share recruiting experiences with each other.

Next Steps to Prep for Quant Finance Careers:

  • Read more about the different roles in quantitative finance.
  • Suggested Harvard undergrad courses: “Stat 110 is the single best course for interview prep, helps with critical thinking and creativity. Stat 111 and 139 can help for trading. CS 109A, time series class is also good.” –Catherine
  • Review the Green Book to prep for quantitative interviews. Another recommended resource is quantguide.io.
  • Consider freshman and sophomore programs: Discover Citadel, SIG Discovery Day, Jane Street FTTP
  • Join HUQT, they have a spring comp. WiCS and HCS also have great resources!
  • Set up mock interviews with upperclassmen and alumni. Consider scheduling a career conversation with an alum on MCS Firsthand Advisors or connect on LinkedIn with Andrew, Catherine and Eric to hear more about their individual quant journeys.
By Meaghan Shea
Meaghan Shea Assistant Director, Technology, Data Analytics, Life & Physical Sciences & Entrepreneurship