"I worked 80 hour weeks to deliver a platform for a hedge fund. Then they fired me"
I built a systematic trading platform for a hedge fund. I delivered an excellent platform ahead of time, but then they fired me, and now I can’t find a new job in what's a very difficult employment market.
I shouldn’t even be looking for a job right now. I’m only on the market because I became surplus to requirements. Effectively, I was “fired” for being too effective in my previous role.
I joined the startup hedge fund last year. In the short period while I worked there, I built an order management system which allowed the firm to make its first eve trades. A typical week for me included working between 70 and 80 hours a week. I worked almost every weekend, and almost every day for the entire time, without a single day of holiday.
I did this for two reasons. Firstly, I was told repeatedly that the faster the firm was able to start trading, the faster I would start earning bonuses from the firm's PnL, assuming that the strategies indeed were profitable. (It is my understanding that they are highly profitable.)
Secondly, I loved my job. Every day, I got to build really cool stuff, all while learning a new language which was unfamiliar to me – Rust. Every day, I was learning more about Rust, Kafka, and the range of other technologies which we were leveraging. It was pretty great.
After months of hard work, the system finally went into production, and trades started flowing around the system. Two days later I was let go. I arrived in the office the morning after 48 hours of profit making, and was called into a private office. I was told it was “with regret” that my contract would be terminated that day, and that the “substantial bonus” which would be paid to me was “thanks” for the critical role I played in starting the company.
While I in no way regret working for the fund, as I gained a fast amount of experience in a relatively short period of time, I do regret not being more tactical with my work. I could have simply worked 40 hours a week. Had I done so, it is likely I would still be employed, still building the platform today.
Since the day I left, I have been relentlessly job searching. But so far I have found nothing. I was told in an interview for a junior quant position that it was “a bit of a red flag” that I worked somewhere for such a short period of time.
So is that it? I know the job market is tough right now, but have I snookered myself and made myself unemployable for working too effectively during my last role?
I think I have applied to every hedge fund and investment bank in London. My applications either received an automatic rejection, or simply no response in the majority of cases. In the handful of cases where I have been offered an interview, most have been initial conversations, followed by radio silence – not even a rejection email.
It seems that during such a dire economy, the dream of a junior quant role is out of reach, for now. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Milan Gill is a pseudonym
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