Oh me!

We are so small between the stars & so large against the sky. and lost in subway croud, I try to catch your eye …..

More thoughts on Columbia MSOR

July25

Good things:

  • Brand name of Columbia University
  • Opportunity to take good courses and learn useful skills
  • New York location advantage
  • Flexibility of choosing courses and study plan

Bad things:

  • IEOR Department is at best apathetic and at worse discriminatory towards MSOR students
  • MSOR course structure does not follow a nice pattern like MSFE courses ( staggered  in Summer, Fall, Spring)
  • Some courses are restricted to MSFE students

Job prospects

  • In general job prospects for MSOR grads are inferior to MSFE grads
  • This inferiority results from :
  1. MSOR grads being less qualified, OR
  2. MSOR grads being less aware of things in general, OR
  3. MSOR grads simply not being given the opportunity to apply to certain jobs.
  • Qualified, perseverant  and hard working people from any program at Columbia University (MAFN, MSOR, MSE, MSFE, MS Stats etc) will find countless doors being opened for them.

Should I join Columbia MSOR?

  • YES, if:
  1. You are self motivated and hard working, AND
  2. You have a good idea of what you want to do, AND
  3. You possess the skills to learn advanced math, stat and computing concepts in school ( read you’re not afraid of Math/computing) , AND
  4. You have a back up plan if you don’t get a job out of school
  • NO, if:
  1. You ‘think’ you like finance/consulting but are not sure of it, OR
  2. You do not possess good mathematical skills, OR
  3. Not getting a job will severely impact your next 7+ years, OR
  4. Your financial position makes you taking a USD 50,000+ loan prohibitive, OR
  5. You get easily discouraged…for the job market is Nasty

I took a risk and it paid off. For some others it didn’t.  Should the wheels of time turn back and I be given the choice of accepting MSOR or rejecting it,  I would still accept it. I am much indebted to Columbia (and to God)  for how my career turned out to be.

How to find a job

December7

After spending countless hours preparing Cover Letters, Resumes and networking, I finally found a job last week. It took me 4 months, 174 applications and countless hours before I found a job that I was really excited about. Over the past 14 months, I constantly asked seniors, alumni and mentors the question – How can I find a job in these choppy markets? When every institution is in firing mode, how do I as an international student differentiate myself?

I’m writing this post to summarize what I learnt. I hope the reader ( perhaps a Columbia University IEOR Grad student like me) benefits and adds his/her observations along. I did not do all these things, at some of them I failed miserably. But a wise person is one who learns from others mistake.

Before Starting College

1) Your job hunt does not starts 1 semester before graduation. It starts from the day that you get your college admit letter. You should have only 3 focus areas in college. a) Learn (study) as much as possible b) Enjoy your college life in a responsible way and c) never forget the end result of education – a dream job.

2) When you arrive in college, You should already have the first draft of your resume ready. You should have ideally spent atleast 20 hours on making your resume. The only thing that should change is the top line of education heading, where you decide your courses and put relevant courses,

3) You should read every page of your university’s career website. For Columbia University, it would mean that you have read everything at http://www.careereducation.columbia.edu/resources/

4) Make a Linkedin Profile. Your goal should be to have 500+ connections before your last semester.

The First Semester

5) Arrive in US one month before course starts. Give yourself sufficient time to find an apartment and to acclimatize with the new culture. Contact seniors. Get all stupid things like phone, housing, food etc sorted out so that you waste minimal time thinking about them once school starts.

6) Talk to seniors and alumni before selecting courses. Although you should select courses that you like, keep in mind that certain classes are very important for jobs. For example, Security Pricing is a must if you want to be in finance.

7) Dont bite more than what you can chew. Select at least one ‘easy’ class each semester to maintain a decent GPA.

8) in light of points 6 and 7 above, Talk to your advisor ( or better still Jenny Mak in IEOR department ) before settling on a course,

9) Once college starts, You’ll be always short of time. For the first month, try to participate in everything possible. After first month, concentrate on a few things that suit your interest. Don’t compromise on studies for extra-curricular work. The only thing that may take a upper hand is interviewing where even if you have to miss classes, its ok.

10) GPA is not absolute. There are “bands” of GPA. below 3.0 you are pretty much screwed. 3.0 – 3.3 is just ok. 3.3 – 3.5 is average. 3.5 – 3.8 is good. 3.8 to 4.0 is very good. 4.0 + is excellent. The positive impact of a 4.0+ GPA is very high, just like the negative impact of a 3.0 and lesser GPA. That said, a higher GPA is always better

11) Sometime after the mid-sems, start applying for Spring and Summer Internships. I suggest you concentrate on CCE and IEOR job postings for the start. I ask you to wait till mid sems so that you can make some sense of job postings’ work description. This way, u’ll come across as a smart applicant who knows what he/she is talking about in cover letter.

12) A spring internship will mean that a) Your free time will disappear completely b) You’ll have to compromise on your social life c) You’ll have to work extra hard for grades d) you’ll miss out on some required extra-curricular activities. The good thing is that you’ll add a US work experience on your resume which will help you find a summer internship as well as a full time job.

Winter Break

13) Take 3-4 days off after the hectic first semester. Then, get down to work. The two odd weeks should be used to remedy your coding and math skills. I suggest you pick up 1 language – VBA or C++ preferably, otherwise MATLAB and try to code as much as possible. Make a schedule so you don’t waste time in spring semester to learn these things. ( I regret that I did not do this – big mistake)

14) Go to various companies website and note the deadline for summer internships. Make an excel sheet where you note the designation, deadline, and required documents. Mark your calendar so you don’t miss any stuff.

15) Good time to go to Linkedin ans see where your school alumni are working. On the excel sheet in point 14, make another column for people you should contact about jobs details in the specific company. EG. “UBS – ER Intern – 12 Jan 2012 – resume/CoverLetter – Contact Mr XYZ of MSOR 2004 to know more”

Second Semester.

This section assumes you have a GPA of 3.4+

16) This is when you’ll learn the most. There are amazing courses available in this semester. Asset Allocation, Term Structure, Volatility smile, Security Pricing, Application Programming etc are all good courses. You should try to audit as many courses in the first two weeks as possible. Remember, what you choose to learn in this semester will modify your job hunt in a major way.

17) If you are not interning this semester, study very very hard. Don’t limit yourself to 3 hard, 1 easy course rule. Take all those subjects where you think u’ll learn the most. In addition, audit another subject if you so wish. Crux – this semester forms the bulk of your knowledge base for any job you will do. Think of this semester as on-job training.

18) The only other objective in Spring semester is to find a Summer Internship. Be ready to apply to 50, 100 or even 150 places. Your objectives in the internship should be – firstly Brand Name, Secondly job content and thirdly Money. . Don’t feel bad if you are not earning as much as some others in summer internship. Brand Name and job content are far more important in long run.

19) Again, CCE and IEOR postings are my preferred way of searching for jobs. Others say that websites like internship dot com, monster dot com and efinancial careers are also good. But as you will observe, you’ll get around 200 – 500 job postings for relevant internships. For me, that was more than enough.

20) Don’t be disappointed if you don’t get an internship by April. People got internships as late as June. In the end, about 70% of my (known) classmates of MSOR ‘2011 had internships. Some unpaid, some paid. Mostly paid between $9 and $43 per hour.

21) The best way to find internship/jobs , apart from CCE, is networking.

Summer Internship

I’ll post another article here mentioning what you can do to maximize your benefits from Summer Internship.

The Last Semester

22) Try to have a light courseload in your last semester because you want to focus all your energy on job hunting.

23) Right after summer internship, make at-least 4-5 types of cover letters. Rework your resume. Have 3-4 types of resumes ready as well.

24) These cover Letters and resumes should not be longer than 1 page each. They should be easy to read and be specific to major types of job roles that you are planing to apply to. For example, in finance they can be one each for Equity Research, Portfolio Management, Credit Risk, Market Risk, Aset Allocation, Quant Research, Quant Trading, Technical (coding), Structured Finance etc. Bring out your different qualities as needed in each job. For Example, Equity Research should focus on your ” seeing the big picture” trait while Quant Trading should focus on ” Quick mathematical mind”.

25) Get your Cover letters and Resumes reviewed by someone in CCE.

26) For heaven’s sake, make sure you are addressing the correct company/person/job in your cover letter. Dont be stupid to send one cover letter to another company. ( I did this and I truly regretted it)

27) Not all jobs in CCE will be for Grad students. Some of them will only be for undergrads or postdocs. For these posting, go to the website directly and apply.

28) Not all jobs will be open to International Students. Don’t waste your time for jobs that require US Citizenship !!

29) My personal experience with job fairs is that they are useless if you haven’t researched the company and roles before visiting the fair. If you go there, the only way u can separate yourself from 100’s of people is when you ask quesntions like, “So I saw your profile at website and you mention that you need so-and-so. I have this-and-this and am good at such-and-such. Do you think I’ll fit in/ can you enlighten me abt this/ can i speak to someone in your this department/ I met XYZ and really liked the role, can you tell me what differentiates a good candiate from others?” etc. Moot point is – don’t sound dumb and ask stupid qns which amazingly enough, 90% of people do.

30) Don’t loose heart if you are rejected! Everyone who got a job amongst my friends received at least 40-50 rejects. Some people like me received 174 rejects. You’re not the first one who’ll receive a reject nor the last one. There will be times when you’ll just not know why u didnt get a interview call, when you clearly were the best. Instead of pondering too much over it, move on.

31) In light of point 30 above, if you are tired of job hunt, take a break, for as long as a week. Leave some applications. Its ok to miss a few deadlines. Don’t take it too hard on yourself. I suggest after every 30 applications, you take two days off and do no job hunting.

32) If everything fails, mobilize your networks and LinkedIn to full force. If you have been diligent, you would have already spoken to a number of people over the past 15 months, and now is the time ( on your 3-4th interaction) to very tactically ask, “is there any job that you know of? “. Please note that you’ll need to raise this topic very sensitively with your networks, I’ll write another post on this topic sometime.

33) If you have done all the above things, the only thing that can stop you from getting a job is your poor luck. And if that happens, remember what happens, happens for the best. Have faith in the Lord for He who creates is He who feeds.

Columbia MSOR placements / job offers

December3

I had to wait, as usual, for Kaushik to get ready for dinner. So in the 30 odd minutes of waiting for his highness to ‘suit up’, Mittal and me did some rudimentary analysis on the job statistics of MSOR / EMS class of 2011. Here’s the results

First the disclaimers : We only surveyed people whom we interact with and took into account facts known among friends. There may have been job offers that were not disclosed. Also, the sample size is 31 while the class size is perhaps 200. We did not consider any visa restrictions and our facts may be horribly wrong. Most importantly, The course has not even finished and people still have 1 month of course + 2 months of grace period + 3 months of OPT = 6 months more to search for a job offer. It is highly likely that (almost) everyone will get a job in the next 6 months. It is certain that the next round of great jobs will come from freshers ( first quarter of 2012 )

Now the results:

Sample size = 31
Of which Indian citizens = 31
People with job offers = 15 ( 48.4%)
People with job offers who are happy with status quo ( no more job huntng) = 8 ( 25.8% of sample size)
People with Work Experience = 19
…. of which who got offers = 12.
=> 63 % of work ex junta got offers as of December 2, 2011

People without Work Experience = 12
…. of which who got offers = 03.
=> 25 % of freshers got offers as of December 2, 2011

Number of people who had a summer internship = 24
…. Of which got offers = 13

=> internship considerably inreases your chance to get an offer.

Sample list of companies: AmEx, PwC, E&Y, Thomson Reuters, Goldman Sachs, Nomura etc.
Sample Designations: Analyst, Senior Analyst, Associate, Consultant, Sr. Consultant

Notes:

1) Work experience is defined as anyone who has more than 12 months of work experience in any field.
2) Only relies on publicly available information
3) Salary disclosure is rare, so no statistics are available.

Protected: Of interviewers

November8

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These interviews..

November5

I often think, had I only said this – or more often, Not said that – I would have cleared the interview. But then I think, what’s the point of getting a job through deceit? Why should I start a career on foundations weak?

Lord, give me the job that I deserve, not the one I lust after.

The Finest Hour

October20

मई जून 1940 की बात है. हिटलर ने पूरे महाद्वीप पर कब्ज़ा कर लिया. Blitzkreig कामयाब हुआ प्रतीत होता था. france ने घुटने टेक दिए थे. अब britain की बारी थी. हिटलर ने कहा, आत्मसमर्पण कर दो. churchill ने parliament को कहा –

“… we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the new world, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old…”
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/We_shall_fight_on_the_beaches#Peroration)

और फिर उन्होंने कहा,

“…. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, This was their finest hour....”
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_was_their_finest_hour)

===

साला देश के देश नहीं रुकते परेशानी में,पर उनकी बात छोडो.. siberian crane नहीं रूकती हिन्दुकुश पार करने से, चींटी नहीं रूकती दाना उठाने में, spider नहीं रुकता बार बार गिर कर उठने की कोशिश करने में, गड्ढे में गिरी गाय नहीं रूकती निकलने की कोशिश करने में … इंसान होकर मैं रुक जाऊं तो धिक्कार है मुझ पे!! जब चीज़ें आसान हो तो कोई भी नाम कर सकता है. मुश्किल से जूझना ही तो मर्दानगी है. और अगर इतना पढ़ के, इतना कर के, इतने अच्छे रिश्तेदारों और मित्रों का साथ पाने के बावजूद मैं घबरा जाऊं, तो मुझमे है की क्या गर्व के लिए??

अच्छा और बुरा

October19

क्या अच्छा है, क्या बुरा? आजीवन सोचता रहूँ तब भी किसी नतीजे पे नहीं आ सकता. जैसे की मेरे घर के बाहर लगा maple का पेड़. जब कोई interview call आती है और मेरे पैरों में उछाल होता है, तब वो कितना प्यारा दीखता है. जब कोई मुझे नकारता है और मैं ज़मीन में गढ़ा जाता हूँ, तब वो कैसा मरणासन्न लगता है. पेड़ तो पेड़ है. autumn तो autumn ही है. columbia university तो columbia university ही है. मैं भी वोही का वोही हूँ.

नज़रों में जरूर फर्क है…

Of Job Hunting – part 2

October16

I am feeling much better now. And the reason is that I spoke to my mom and she made me see some basic things, which i had forgotten in my panic.

I have started getting some interview calls. Some more are in the pipeline. 3 interviews for their final round are scheduled this month…something should come out of it I hope! And then, there are still 6 months to go before my Visa requirements force me to go back to India. Assuming the worst case of 3 calls per month – that means 20 interview calls. Lets think I get an offer only in 1 of 5 companies. That means I should have 4 final decisions to choose. In the rarest case of cracking only 10% interview – I still should have 2 offers to choose from. If even that doesn’t work, I’ll do some research or something, try to be here for 3-4 more month and get a job. And frankly, If I don’t get a job even after 12 months, then I am better off going to India.

So what’s the worst which may happen? I’ll go back to India. India is a booming market. There is Finance, there is IT, there is education. I did very good work at ICICI Bank and I think people still remember it. I may get a job at ICICI, if not in some other bank. If not in Finance, I will join an IT company. If even that fails I will join an MBA college/coaching. Heck, I may just open up a institute myself.

Strange that my mom should put some sense in me, of all the people whom I know of.

Protected: Of Job hunting and the stuff that comes with it.

September28

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