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Optiver intern stories: careers in trading

Sean Gee
Quantitative Trading Intern

What first attracted you to Optiver?

I was reading a book on markets and was fascinated by the role of market makers. After learning that Optiver was one such firm, I joined the campus outreach event. It was a great session and I managed to learn a lot about both the culture and the business. This led me to apply for an internship role as I felt Optiver would be a firm where I can do meaningful work.

What does your role entail?

My role consists of shadowing traders and helping the trading team with projects. Shadowing is great for learning, as I get to understand the traders’ thought process and how they react quickly to different situations. Projects help the team to automate processes and improve pricing so that traders can make faster, better decisions.

What are the key skills required?
  • Data analysis – drawing insights from data and integrate it into the decision-making process.
  • Logical reasoning – the ability to reason and determine what will happen in markets based on observable events.
  • Curiosity – questioning why things are as they are and understanding concepts from first principles.
  • Teamwork – communicating with and learning from other traders as everyone has their own strengths.
What was your training like?

I attended a two-week firm-wide training, that introduced us to different teams across the business. This training also included some options trading simulations. After that, most of the training was informal and done through shadowing traders at their desks or when interesting trades popped up. This was more interactive as it also included some trading games!

What are some of the projects you’re working on (non-confidential)?

One of my favourite projects involves studying the rate at which to decay time, which is an input to the option pricing model. Time does not decay linearly as volatility is not constant throughout the day, so we need to account for that in our prices. Essentially, we want to make model inputs as accurate as possible, so that traders can focus solely on volatility and trade around it. In fact, one could say, that option traders price volatility as their profession! It’s little improvements like this, that compound and contribute to the success of the firm.

How do you start your day at Optiver?

I usually get a glass of water and a bowl of cereal from the pantry. Then I read the morning macro newsletter, and trading wraps from the past day. I try to understand how each macro event affects different markets and whether any interesting trades happened in other offices.

What do you love about your work?
  1. The collaborative environment. Institutional knowledge is freely shared at Optiver, allowing me to easily reference past research and learn at my own pace.
  2. I also had the opportunity to experience first-hand, how different teams work together, to complete major projects for the firm.
  3. Lastly, it’s great to be able to make meaningful contributions even as an intern.
What keeps you motivated?

The desire to constantly improve myself so that I can help Optiver to be the best among the competition. It’s also very satisfying to figure out how the trading process works, by learning a piece of the puzzle every day. Furthermore, every trading day is unique, so it never gets boring!

What interests outside of work help you in your role?

Solving puzzle hunts. It helps to keep me curious and approach problems from different angles. I also play computer games, which helps me to relax.

What’s your advice to potential applicants?

Before applying, think about how you can add value to the firm and use that as your selling point. During the interviews, explain your thinking process and be confident with your responses. Most importantly, stay calm. It’s fine to not know the answer to questions – what matters is how you react!

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