As a tech-driven market maker, Optiver seeks partnerships to help push technology forward and support the next generation of talent. Recently it partnered with P33, a non-profit organization dedicated to driving innovation and economic growth in the city of Chicago. The partnership aims to support and grow the local tech ecosystem in Chicago while creating new opportunities for talent in the region – both large priorities for Optiver as well.
Optiver’s first opportunity to get involved with P33 was though P33’s Strong Start Initiative. The Strong Start Initiative integrates tech employees from Chicago companies into local university computer science classes to mentor students through real-world tech projects. Students are able to immediately see the relevance and value of the coding skills they are learning by applying them to realistic situations that also teach them about an industry or career they may not know exists..
The first group of Optiver mentors to participate in this initiative created a trading-related project for students at UIC. The students were prompted to create an educational game focused on the basics of trading and stocks, how global events impact the financial markets, and how to consider and manage risk. Partnering with UIC professors, the mentors facilitated the project over the course of three weeks and helped the students to better understand how their STEM backgrounds – even if not tech-related – play an important role in their future careers in tech. It also invited deeper conversations about how to best get started in a tech career, from what skillsets to learn to what types of experience set them up for success.
[The mentors] really helped me focus on what my next steps would be for getting a career in tech while still being a science major and a computer science minor. It made me feel less anxious about the future by talking to someone who has been in my place before and still made it in the tech world.”
-Strong Start student participant
The Strong Start Initiative will help to generate and retain more tech students in the greater Chicago area and help to foster a tech talent ecosystem that will benefit both organizations and the city itself. It also provides organizations like Optiver the opportunity to give back to the community, bring new resources and expertise to students and schools and help drive local economic growth. The firm plans to participate in the initiative again in the fall.
“It was extremely rewarding to connect with the students, not just on the project, but on how the skills they’re learning even in these intro computer science classes can set them up for success down the road for future careers at companies like Optiver. I’m excited for the opportunity to continue this program for future semesters.”-Optiver Program Facilitator, Heather Solov
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