Get to Know Us

Eliot

New York

Trading

2016 & 2017 Intern

Full-time since 2018

Read the transcript

Transcript

Get to Know Us | Jane Street

Hi. I’m Eliot. I’m a trader at Jane Street, where I’ve been working since 2018 in the New York office.

What did you study in school and how did it help prepare you for a job at Jane Street?

I studied both math and economics in college. I think the math was really helpful for thinking about statistical problems, thinking about, you know, kind of, probabilistic questions that we have all the time at work and especially if we’re talking to the other traders who studied a lot of math in high school and college.

And then econ; I took a couple of auction theory classes and I really got involved in studying auctions in a way that I think translated really well into being curious about the market and caring about the kinds of transactions and game theoretic decisions that people engage in when they’re trading.

What classes do you recommend I take?

I think everyone should take at least one serious computer science course, one serious statistics course, and at least one course in economics so that you have a good understanding, or at least some understanding of what a market is, what kinds of economic transactions people want to do and why people trade anything at all. On the other hand, I don’t think that there’s really any course or set of courses that will really make you an amazing trader if you weren’t going to be an amazing trader anyways, or will disqualify you from working at Jane Street if you take them.

So really I think you should take whatever classes are the most interesting and you think will be the most fun.

What types of training do new traders go through?

First year traders get a lot of education. There’s a week of hardcore mock trading, just full time, all day trading doing mock trading to prepare us for the job. There are a few weeks of OCaml Boot Camp, which is a great program where traders get to learn OCaml from software developers who work at Jane Street, so that we’re able to understand what’s going on under the hood and also contribute to all of the tech projects that we’re working on here. And then there’s a nearly year-long program of after work on some days of every week teach-ins where new hires get to rotate throughout the firm and learn about all the different kinds of business and trading and projects that we’re working on outside of their own desk.

What is your day-to-day like?

The first part of my day is spent setting up our automated trading systems and making sure that we’re happy with how things moved overnight to make sure that we’re okay to turn on, make sure that we won’t do a lot of bad trades in the morning because something broke or we have something misconfigured. I think an important part about being a trading firm is feeling comfortable turning things on for the first time.

Then from about 9:30 to 4:00 during market hours, I spend most of my time watching trading and thinking about how to improve the trading that we’re doing in real time, understanding what trades we’re doing, thinking about whether there are any more trades we want to do, and maybe doing some of them and making sure that nothing goes wrong.

Then after the close, and sometimes in the middle of the day, if things are a little bit slower, I can work on tech projects or research projects that will improve our infrastructure or our trading on a longer timescale than day-to-day.

How long did it take before you felt like you had real responsibilities as a full timer?

There were a couple of months of real training when I wasn’t doing very much on the desk. And then I would say for the next, maybe two months, I was doing some useful research and building some useful tools, but mostly I was learning about things that were important for me to understand in order to become a productive trader on the desk.

I think by month five or six, there were some real responsibilities that I had where I felt like I was really adding some value, at least in some areas. And then maybe by month nine, I felt like I was really clearly net positive for Jane Street, not just learning and taking up all this time of serious people who could otherwise be trading, to force them to educate me, but actually contributing positively to the desk and thinking about how to improve our trading in a significant way.

How is working at Jane Street different than you expected?

Well, I did two internships at Jane Street. So in some sense working at Jane Street full time is exactly what I expected because I think the training internship is a really good representation of what the job is really like. On the other hand, before I did the internships, I had no idea what to expect coming in. All I had done is basically study math in college. I didn’t even pick up econ until after my first internship, so I didn’t really know that much about markets or that much about finance.

I think the biggest difference or the thing that I didn’t expect the most is how fun working at Jane Street is. The people at Jane Street are really fantastic to talk to. It’s a fun atmosphere to hang out in a room with all these people, talking to these really smart, interesting people about problems all the time. I didn’t really expect that work would be more fun than sort of grueling. Maybe I had the wrong understanding of what a professional life would be like, but I think that was really a welcome surprise.

There’s so many great things about Jane Street. My two favorite are the people—I think it’s really awesome to be able to work with my friends every day. They’re really smart and they love solving problems and they have a lot of shared interests.

And, I think the second thing is the problems. You get to work on solving problems at Jane Street. There are constantly new problems, they’re interesting, they’re right up my math and problem solving interest alley and you get feedback really pretty quickly on days, weeks.

The next great idea will come from you