As a student, finding a part-time job that aligns with your career goals can be a challenging feat. But for those interested in the world of finance and trading, a part-time job as a Trading Analyst (TA) can offer a unique opportunity to gain practical experience, build professional skills and make valuable connections while still studying. But what does this role really entail? And what is it like to balance studies while working on real impact projects?
To help shed light on these questions, we sat down with a Guyon, a Trading Analyst who will transition into a full time role upon graduation.
Q: Can you tell us about your journey into becoming a part-time TA at Optiver?
Sure – I decided to apply to Optiver after participating in the student coding competition Ready Trader Go. I wanted to get some practical experience before I graduated, so I thought this would be a great opportunity.
The unique thing about the part-time TA role at Optiver is that it provides a platform to apply some of the theoretical knowledge I’m gaining during my studies to the real-world, so it acts as a good transition from studying to working.
Q: When you joined the team, what did your training or learning process involve?
When I joined, I was initially paired with a mentor, an experienced data analyst, who guided me through Optiver’s database and trading systems and answered all of my questions. I was also given the opportunity to sign up for Python and SQL courses, and because I didn’t have any coding experience, this really helped to get to grips with the programming languages we use day-to-day.
But most of my training was hands-on and interactive, like direct shadowing of a trader. They walked me through their thought processes, explaining how they determine prices, understand the market and make trading decisions. This gave me a better understanding of the trading desk operations and an insight into their thinking process that’s impossible to gain when you’re studying.
Another aspect of the learning process involved working on real tasks, like building dashboards and doing research based on a trader’s idea or question.
At Optiver, you need to be proactive in gaining knowledge. Everyone is very open and willing to share their experiences and insights, you just need to take the initiative and ask questions and show a willingness to learn.
Q: What do your day-to-day responsibilities look like?
Every day is different. For example, one of the things I work on are projects for traders. When a trader has an idea about a certain product, we conduct research to determine whether the idea has potential. We might investigate whether certain data patterns are one-time occurrences or if they repeat consistently. This could involve using data to predict future market behaviours, investigating why specific market patterns occur and then presenting our findings back to the trader.
Another responsibility I have is building dashboards for the trading floor. Traders have multiple screens at their desks, and having a dashboard that presents vital information in a clear, accessible way is crucial for efficient trading. What I really enjoy is seeing my dashboards being used in real-time by traders—it’s incredibly satisfying to see my work having an immediate impact.
Although I didn’t have any coding experience when I started in the role, a big part of my job now involves working with our data analysts to improve our database. This can involve anything from cleaning up the data to making the system more efficient.
Q: Can you share your experience balancing your TA role at Optiver with your studies?
At the beginning it can take some getting used to as you have to manage your time as with any part-time position. But Optiver is really flexible with when I work, and understands that as a student, my academic commitments can really vary from week to week.
They offer adaptable scheduling that allows me to modify my 20 working hours to fit around my lectures. So if I have a tutorial on Wednesday that I need to attend, I can easily switch my working days to Tuesday and Thursday for that week.
Optiver requires a minimum commitment of 16 hours per week and 6 months of employment, which is manageable considering the level of flexibility they offer.
Q: What’s your favourite part of the role?
My favourite part has been seeing the direct impact of my work. I get to see something I’ve developed being used in real time. For instance, the dashboards I’ve created are now on the traders’ screens, helping their decision-making process.
Having direct access to experienced traders and analysts has also been extremely valuable. They’re not only my mentors but also my teammates. Their insights and advice have shaped my understanding of the financial market in ways that classroom learning alone couldn’t provide.
Q: What opportunities are available once you graduate?
The role is really a stepping stone to a full time role at Optiver. There are actually two paths you can take after getting to know the roles and discovering what you’re passionate about.
One route is becoming a Data Analyst. You get exposure to databases and get hands on experience building dashboards that are actually used by traders that inform their trading strategies. The other route, and the route I’m taking, is becoming a trader. After spending time as a TA, you get a good understanding of market dynamics, and you get a feel for the fast-paced nature of the role.
Throughout my time as a TA I have been accessed to see which route would be a best fit for me. There was a lot of open communication between me and the team to make sure my preferences and interests were taken into account for a full time role.
Interested in becoming a Trading Analyst?
Are you passionate about finance and eager to kickstart your career in trading? Don’t wait until you graduate! Apply now and gain practical experience in the field while still pursuing your studies.