Life at Optiver  · 

The Optiver summer: A transformative experience

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This summer, we proudly welcomed our largest intern season to date across our Amsterdam and US offices. They came from top schools and dove headfirst into the fast-paced world of market making, where they underwent comprehensive training, completed impactful projects, learned from industry mentors and formed lasting bonds with their peers. This wasn’t your average summer internship – it was a dynamic journey that unveiled true potential and paved the way for future long-term careers. Let’s take a closer look at the Optiver summer internship experience.

“The best thing about this internship is that it has given me so much confidence – both in succeeding in the industry, but also enjoying the industry.”

– Nancy Wang

Trading: From theory to action

Our trading interns kicked off their summer with what we call the “Trading Game,” a time-honoured rite of passage and practical introduction to the world of making markets. Utilising an open-outcry trading format and theoretical scenarios ranging from predicting the standard deviation of uniform distribution draws to uncovering the favourite number among Optiver employees, interns gained valuable insights into market dynamics and decision-making processes.

The foundational phase of the program was an advanced Options Theory class, where interns delved into the intricacies of sophisticated financial derivatives. This immersive course encompassed concepts like the Greeks – essential risk metrics that influence options pricing and behaviour. Exploring delta, gamma, theta, vega, and rho, interns learned how these parameters quantify the sensitivity of option prices to factors like underlying asset movement, time decay, implied volatility and interest rates. Even interns with a background in PhD-level math or their university’s options theory courses found that our curriculum delved much deeper.

“The things we learned in two weeks, this is probably what I learned in two semesters at university.”

– Zad Abi Fadel

Next came the fun part: trading on simulated markets. Taking their places on the trading floor, the interns traded against real-time options prices, closely mirroring actual trading scenarios. Guided by our seasoned traders, they honed their decision-making skills while being shadowed for several hours each week. What set this experience apart is that interns utilised the same cutting-edge applications employed by our production traders, experiencing first-hand the tools and strategies that drive trading success at Optiver.

Finally, our trading interns learned about harnessing the power of big data in a volatility project. Armed with access to an array of Optiver volatility data, they back tested intricate trading strategies. This involved meticulously analysing historical data to gauge the potential success of various trading approaches. The standout strategies were then put through simulated trading, providing a trial of their effectiveness.

Technology: From ideation to production

On the technology track, this summer’s interns steered projects to solve real trading challenges for the firm. In mere weeks, they began to craft latency-critical applications that amplified market efficiency for their teams. Guided by mentors and seasoned developers, they owned their code from inception to production. Here are some project highlights by region:

United States
  1. Data Factory Integrated Storage Tier Management by Berke Lunstad: Berke expanded Optiver’s Data Factory by introducing python-based tools and an audit. He streamlined data lifecycle management, enabling effortless transition into cold storage while enhancing cost-efficiency. Through centralised tracking and extended APIs, his solution empowered teams to extract more value from their data while significantly reducing storage costs.
  2. Back Populated Dataset Framework by Nicholas Grill: Nicholas created a versatile Python framework for the back population of historical datasets that empowers software developers, researchers, and traders by abstracting away infrastructure complexities. By leveraging familiar tools like Numpy and Pandas, Optiver researchers produced data frames while the framework handled storage and organisation. The framework continues to offer invaluable applications beyond research, such as streamlined regression testing, ensuring code changes are thoroughly validated before deployment.
  3. Expanding Research Factory Access by Krishna Reddy: Optiver’s Research Factory is a crucial tool for enhancing the efficiency of financial market analysis. Researchers use it for reproducible and flexible workflows, but it had limitations in providing real-time insights. Krishna developed a system to access live data across millions of running jobs. This system recorded job progress in real-time, allowing for quick introspection and failure analysis, making debugging easier. It also assisted in monitoring job performance and detecting potential issues, enhancing both research and platform stability at Optiver.

“I did not expect an intern would be given such great responsibility or even power to modify Optiver code. And I’m happy that I have finished my project and am actually releasing it, and excited to have it in production.”

– Nicole Lam
  1. Breaking Free of a Single Process in Python by Torin Felton: Torrin enhanced Optiver’s Amnis framework, transitioning from a single-process to a multi-process scheduler, addressing challenges like deadlock. Real-world testing showed a reduction in computation time from 78 minutes to 16 minutes, significantly boosting efficiency for trading scenarios.
  2. Infrastructure as Code with Terraform and AWS by Anita Sledz: Anita developed a flexible AWS infrastructure using Terraform for an external-facing application, emphasising multi-zone fault tolerance and efficient traffic distribution. She replaced previous methods with reusable modules and introduced an automated CI/CD pipeline, underlining the importance of robust infrastructure at Optiver.
  3. Let’s Make Automation Scalable by Andreea Nica: Andreea crafted a versatile command-line tool to automate the configuration of Autotraders components, with adaptability for other elements, reducing manual intervention. This scalable solution enhances Optiver’s automation processes and efficiency.

Life outside the office

This year’s summer internship experience wouldn’t be complete without exploring our vibrant host cities through activities that promoted wellbeing and camaraderie. We know the importance of building connections and creating lasting memories, so our program this summer achieved just that.

US summer interns enjoyed an eclectic blend of activities to enrich their experience. Welcoming them to the buzzing cities of Chicago and Austin, dinners and welcome events at classic restaurants set the stage for connection. In Chicago, interns embarked on a breath-taking architecture boat ride, immersing themselves in the city’s rich history and iconic skyline. The thrill of a professional baseball game captured the spirit of summer entertainment. Our teams hit the waters as interns and staff went on a kayak adventure. They also enjoyed beach volleyball and arcade games in the spirit of light-hearted competition, fostering friendships through shared fun.

“My summer with Optiver has been absolutely incredible. We’ve done everything you can think of within the city.”

– Nicholas Lopez

In Amsterdam, Optiver’s summer interns enjoyed an array of social activities to complement their professional development. After working hours, they relaxed with engaging games like chess and pool. Interns soaked in the city’s history and charm during a scenic boat tour along its iconic canals. Embracing Amsterdam’s spirit, bicycles were provided to explore the city’s beauty in true local style. They also participated in an escape room experience, honing teamwork and problem-solving skills.

A summer to remember

As we bid farewell to another exceptional summer internship season, we are reminded that this journey is just the beginning. The seeds of knowledge and camaraderie have been sown, and we eagerly anticipate the future contributions and successes of our interns. The Optiver summer internship is not just a section on a resume; it’s a launch pad towards a future that’s rich with promise.

“I’ve gotten a lot better at decision making, a lot better at trading, specifically a lot better about quantitative reasoning and about working in a team. I feel right now like I’m going to turn trading into something that’s going to be my entire career.”

– Shariar Vaez-Ghaemi
To participate and experience an Optiver summer first-hand, please apply below:
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