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 …..

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More thoughts on Columbia MSOR


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


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


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


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.

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These interviews..


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


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…”

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....”


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??

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Seventh Week at Columbia University


A part time job does not mean that you save some money. It only means that that you spend more without feeling guilty.

In my Greek Architecture class, prof showed a sample whose size was 10 metres. When asked how many feet, he was confused (He is Greek). When no one could figure how much is that after about 30 seconds I said “33 Feet”. Professor was impressed

In my Stochastic Calculus class, when I asked why dont we take the third order derivatives of Brownian Motion, the professor gave me the “What – a – dork – he – doesnt- even – know – that” look

In my Time Series class, the prof showed us 3 graphs, whose x axis and y axis were not labelled. He said , ” to anyone who can identify even one graph, a drink is due”. I guessed two ( including one which was the brightness magnitude of a double star system over 300 years). And yet I did not get a drink.

My first midterm was OKish. I made some silly mistakes. Forgetting the calculator at home was not a mistake, it was a catastrophe.
My part time job involves taking notes and forwarding phone calls to concerned people. I sort of miss ICICI

The punishment for plagiarizing is suspension. If you are caught cheating for the second time, you are sent back to your country. Needless to say one can never come back.

US is amazingly rich. Even after staying here for 3 months, I still think that’s true. Yes, you can find beggars here. Yes you can find homeless people here. But for every one of them, you also see 10 coffee makers thrown in the garbage because it is discolored or 20 chairs on the street because their handle is loose. Or a wooden chest in the garbage because one drawer is squeaky. Very few people repair stuff, its all just thrown away.

Sixth week at Columbia University


The mercury has been dropping on a daily basis here and it seems that pretty soon I’ll be exposed to the infamous NY cold. It is 9’C today and over the weekend the low may reach 7’C. Funnily I am getting used to “F and dont feel intimidated by something that reads 62/44 ( 17/07)

Another thing that I realised this week was that everyone keeps bumping into me. It happened thrice on Sunday and finally I understood (although pretty late) that I’m the one who’s walking on the wrong side. I’m used to walking on the left of a stairway/road and like driving, that’s opposite in US. It’s a conscious effort to correct myself these days.

Last Friday on a whim, me and my friend decided to walk from our house to Times Square, and back. It was a 16 KM (10 miles) walk that took us 4 hours. We crossed 170 streets and three avenues. Columbia has this wonderful program of giving discounted movie tickets at $6.50 instead of the regular $13. These tickets have no expiry date and are valid throughout the US. Making use of this opportunity, we saw “Social Network” a movie about facebook. This movie hall (AMC) is located near the 42nd street Subway station, and the subway lines pass under the movie hall. As a result, every 5 minutes or so there was a 10 second vibration period. Amusing at first but irritating later on.

As a classic case of stumbling upon happiness, I was offered three part time jobs at the same time this week. I’m not very keen on working too much as I’d rather focus my energy on other things, but having sid that working for 10 hours per week isnt that bad an idea. I was offered a job at Engg Library, at the International Affair library and at the Dean Student Affairs’ office. Library was offering me $ 9 an hour. At the Dean’s office the lady who interviewed me said, ” We normally pay $10 – 12 per hour, but since you’re a CFA, we’ll give you $14 an hour.” This was the first time CFA was of some monetary use to me :). She pressed me to work 15 hours a week but I accepted 10, which turns out to about $ 550 a month.

My courses are getting more and more difficult with every passing class. Midterms are due next week and I dont see myself free for at least a week now.

That’s pretty much it.

Fourth week in Columbia University


( I am writing this post in a hurry, so the language may contain many flaws)

This week was notable for three things:

1) I took two long walks in the city. The first was from 9th street to 90th street, and across 4 Avenues. That would be roughly 10 KMs, which was quite long by my standards! It was a beautiful day and I walked almost half of this big Island with my brother who was visiting me from Washington. Me and Golu saw all the beautiful buildings, and explored all the nooks and corners in our way. So, e.g, we now know where can you find the cheapest I love NY shirts here! Golu also took me to a very good coffee shop at 9th Street, where the to-go coffee was really nice!
My second escapade was yesterday when I walked the length of Riverside Park.. About 60 streets and then crossed the Central Park to the MET museum. About 7 Kms in total. Riverside Park is, well, on the river. It starts right behind my house and I had the opportunity to see the sun settle across the river. A very nice evening indeed. By the time I reached the museum, it was closed. And for the first time I observed the magnitude of that huge building , being made only more colossal by the lack of thronging crowds .

2) While coming back from my second walk, I was noticing the price of a haircut – from $13 to $ 20 – in different barber shops. I briefly toyed with the idea of giving myself a haircut, but then realised that my life’s worth is more than $20. Anyways, I located a saloon at 96th street for $12. Overcoming the idea of spending Rs 600 on a haircut is a major roadblock away for me now!
BTW barbers everywhere are the same. They are quiet a chatterbox. This one, someone from Uzbekistan, was no different. He spoke at length about the Indian movies he saw in the USSR days, and asked my opinions on them. He did not pay much attention that I was more interested in talking about Samarkand instead. Anyways, I emerged
a more decent looking person &
much more knowledgeable about bollywood ; from this adventure

3) We have to study a subject known as “Stochastic calculus” . It is considered to be difficult and deals with the Probabilities and Mathematical Inferences. While doing some homework on something known as ” Wald’s Equations” , I got curious about this equation and googled the term. As it turns out, Abraham Wald was a research scientist at Columbia University, and my professor didn’t even mention this! The fact that my university has produced such great people makes me humble and ambitious at the same time.


Update: Third week at Columbia University


This was a hectic week. My workload has suddenly taken a quantum leap and I’m literally hitting the books and computer keys for the most part of my days. Interestingly I have classes only on Tuesday and Wednesday, but the HW is just too much to do. A key differentiator of US education is the depth it provides Vs the breadth of Indian Education. And this suits me fine. I am a jack of all trades and master of none. I hope after 3 semesters I am still a jack of all trades and master of one.

On a more concrete note, this week I learnt how to identify American trees by looking at their leaf. I walk to college every day and while coming back collect leaves of 2 or 3 trees. then at home I look and identify them on the net. I now know that we have Pin leaf oaks, Sugar Maple, Red Maple, Ginkgo and other trees in and around the university. This is really fascinating! When I went to Houston I saw a fossil imprint of Ginkgo leaf next to a bird’s remains, and it so turns out that this tree is among the oldest surviving species of trees in the world. It sort of amazes me that how some things are permanent in this ever changing life of ours.My roomies have declared me a weirdo for collecting leaves although :) They are eagerly awaiting Fall when our house would be leaf-free.

In Architecture , I spent some more time on understanding “Beaux-Arts”, one of the prominent architectural styles in New York. My house was itself made in Beaux Arts (1905) and has the defining features of this era – Gibbs Surround, Egg and Dart Motifs, rusticated first floor, a Cartouche under the front door, neo-classical pilasters etc. I’m really fortunate to be staying in a house that is made in a particular architectural order. On a person note, I find cities that have an order appealing to me. India has a lot to learn from the western world on the urban planning.

By the way, I stay opposite to the “Manhattan School of Music” at Claremont Avenue. This is considered to be a prestigious institution and many of the performers – teachers and students – live in my building. It is not uncommon to hear a piano playing Beethoven or Mozart on a lazy Sunday afternoon. While I’m deeply immersed in Markov Chains and other arcane mathematical fundas, this comes like a breeze to me.

This week also saw my birthday. A number of people wished my by email/phone/Facebook and I’m thankful to them. I did not imagine that my roomies would have any idea of my b’day and went off to sleep, but these guys woke me up at 12. And with them were 10 more classmates who live nearby. Really nice of them. We cut a cake and ate some other stuff. But otherwise my b’day was quite drab. I had to study for 16 hours, I did not have people whom I could say, “let me treat you”. The day was spent in coding MATLAB programs that didn’t work. So on and so forth. However, at 3 in the night, when I was just about to call quits to the sad day, my computer program finally executed and I was really happy that something good came out of it. Also, the next morning I found a parcel from India that had a B’day card and two coupons of the Haagen-Dazs ice creams, the ones I’ve always thought of eating here. This made my day!

Today was an Indian fresher party. I went there for the sole purpose of having food, so I wouldn’t have to cook. (I had tons of assignments to do). It was pretty boring till dinner time. But after that they thought of starting the music and it was really fun. I think letting your hair down once a while isn’t that bad an idea.

My days are getting more and more hectic. There’s just toooo much stuff to do, too much to read and too much to code. I have to study at least 12 hours per day including weekends. Strangely I’m enjoying it till now. I hope my interest persists.

I survive


I try ,I fall.
I retry, I fall again.

And it goes on and on and on.
And then, when I reach the Nadir,
Making a mess of myself
I shall rise, Like a Phoenix
Yet again.

And I shall fly
and fly and fly and fly
to the Zenith,
I shall rule again.

And mark my words
I’ll dazzle you
yet again!



“Just because something is difficult, doesn’t mean we should not try. It only means that – we should try harder” रमन आर्य का ये status message पढके मुझे सहसा सत्य का ज्ञान हुआ . पिछले कुछ दिनों से मुझे अपने पर विश्वास नहीं था.. US जाने के दिन करीब आ रहे हैं और मुझे डर लग रहा था – कैसे घर जाऊँगा? कोई लेने नहीं आ रहा है, कुछ गड़बड़ हो गयी तो? अपना घर कैसे ढूँढूँगा manhattan में ? Computer programming कैसे करूंगा? Maths कैसे करूंगा ? नौकरी कैसे मिलेगी इत्यादि, इत्यादि….. डर ने आत्मविश्वास को ग्रहण लगा दिया था.

लेकिन मैं मूर्ख तो नहीं हूँ! भगवन के सहारे और अपनी मेहनत और बुद्धि के बल पर मैंने भी सफलताएँ पायीं हैं! CFA किया है, MBA किया है, नौकरी में बेहतरीन प्रदर्शन किया है, Clubs और societies का नेतृत्व किया है , और सबसे अच्छी बात अपना ऐसा व्यक्तित्व बनाया है की बहुत जन मेरी तारीफ करते हैं.

मैं अपनी तारीफों के पुल नहीं बाँध रहा, लेकिन अपने को दूसरों से कम क्यूँ समझूं? अगर maths नहीं आता तो सीख लूँगा! अगर Computer programming से फटती है, तो घंटों मेहनत कर कर के पता कर लूँगा! New york में 19 ,541 ,453 लोग रहते हैं, मैं भी अपना घर ढूंढ लूँगा ! हर साल २ लाख भारतीय अपनी नौकरी ढूंढते हैं, मैं भी ढूंढ लूँगा! साला किसी भी चीज़ से डरूं क्यूँ???

और अगर मुझ जैसा पढ़ा लिखा समझदार व्यक्ति -जो Architecture से linear algebra तक, और nietzche से Graphology तक जान सकता है – यदि मुझ जैसा व्यक्ति नूतन भविष्य से डरेगा, तो साला दुनिया का होगा क्या? हमेशा धरती पर रहना अच्छी बात है, अपने में घमंड न आने देना अच्छी बात है ….लेकिन अपने को दूसरों से कम आंकना तो बेवकूफी की चीज़ ही कहलाएगी.

नवु कहता था, ” अगर कोई चीज़ मुझसे हो जाएगी , तो मैं उसे क्यूँ करूँ?” उसकी बात अब मेरे समझ आती है. ये वैसे ही बात है जो अन्चालिया कहता है, “Run towards your fears.”

मैं क्यूँ रुकूँ धरती पे, जब मेरा ठिकाना तो असीमित अंतरिक्ष है????


” …and I search deep in my soul,
Beyond the doubt and the debris,
I’ve found out that all along,
There has been a king in me…
And I’m gonna Fly,
fly fly fly….”

After the result


There isn’t much that now you can do

So have a smoke and melt in the night dew

Listen to the tick tock of your pocket clock

Wondering if naught is all, all things come to.

Or probably you can have a beer

And look at your despicable self with a sneer

Mediocre you, always knew,

My efforts were impotent, there or here.

So sip the whiskey, soda and scotch

Sit alone on the backside porch

Lo and Behold! As the truth be told

“You were always useless”, Says the watch.

Oxford MFE 2010 Interview Experience


Before I forget, here’s what happened on 19 Nov 09:

Started with me going to Mr Joel Shapiro’s room on first floor. Mr Shapiro had just moved in and some of the boxes were still there. It was a very comfortable setting with me sitting opposite Mr Shapiro. The interview lasted for about 40 mins. It was 100% technical. No standard questions like Why MFE, Why Oxford Etc.

1) What’s your math background?

2) What is Baye’s theorm? ( Had forgotten this, could not answer)

3) How to solve a system of equations? Tell me 3 methods.

4) How to find the area under a curve for discrete points? How is this different from continuous functions?

5) How much Economics do you know? ( told him that I’ve cleared CFA level 3 )

6) Lets play a game. 2 firms produce same good, unconstrained supply, unconstrained demand. Rule is if one price is lower than second’s, all the demand will go to the lower one. Otherwise demand split in two. Is system in equilibrium?

7) What will happen to game at start?

8) how will it progress?

9) what will happen in end?

10) Can the firm earn profits?

11) How can they earn profits? ( told him abt differentiation)

12) how will differenciated goods work?

13) what if differentiated products work? lets say coke and pepsi?

14) How else can they earn profits? ( told him constrained supply)

15-17) how will game start, progress, end in constrained supply?

18) Lets play two period game. What will happen in two periods?

19) any questions ( I said no, had already asked them in the Open day)

I have not studied game theory, so I dont know if my answers were correct or incorrect. But I have a feel that it wasn’t very good interview from my side. That said, Mr Shapiro was great.

Oxford MFE 2010 – Interview Call !


Yay!!! I got an interview call again from the MFE program at Said Business School, Oxford University.

This time they have an open day scheduled on 19 Nov 09. It is a day when u can tour the campus, meet professors and students, and can even attend a dummy class. I plan to attend this open day function and will be flying over to Oxford only for this interview call.

Although my interview went very well last year, I was disappointed that I could not convert it. This time around I think attending the interview in person might make a difference. It will also give me a first hand experience of the place I want to go

BTW, Did I tell you that my Maternal Grandparents (post)graduated from Oxford in 1962? I’m very excited to be going to that place…

Lets hope the VISA falls in place now !

Oxford MFE 2010


My fascination with Oxford’s MFE program refuses to abate even after my unsuccessful attempt last year. I just submitted my application once again ( tata £75.00 !). The interview decision is awaited on 30th October while final decisions are due by 11 December 09.

I am aware that Berkeley’s MFE and Princeton’s MiF are supposed to be much better than  Oxford’s program, however Oxford remains my dream college. I think it might be because of the beautiful campus, 800 year old history, so many notable indian alumni or may be I’m just bewitched by it.

I think about 120 odd people will apply in the first deadline . I’m quite sure of this statistic. If I’m invited for an interview, there is a strong chance that I’ll fly to Oxford only to give it a shot. Last time I could not completely understand the Corporate Finance question asked to me.

Since last year, three new things have been added to my resume:

  1. I cleared CFA level 3
  2. I’ve done lots of distressed assets deals
  3. I’ve restructured an MBS

Yes, there is the £26,000 + living expenses to worry about, but I’ll cross the bridge when i come to it.

posted under English, MFE, Oxford | 3 Comments »

Oxford MFE Interview


काफी लोगों ने कहा है की अपना ऑक्सफोर्ड का interview experience कहीं लिख दूं. आप सभी के लिए यहाँ post कर रहा हूँ. क्यूंकि कुछ लोग हिंदी नहीं जानते, सो अंग्रेजी में लिख रहा हूँ.

My MFE (Masters in Financial Economics) interview was scheduled at 9 30 Am on 27 Feb ‘ 09. As this was a telephonic format, i had to call an international Number at 3 PM IST. I booked a conference room in my company and called Mr Alan Morrison(AM), My interviewer, at 5 mins to 3.

Me-> can I speak to prof Morrison?
AM-> Hello, i guess you’re calling for an MFE interview. Ok, Tell me why you want to join oxford.

AM-> Why MFE

AM-> Tell me about securitization market in India
I told him abt the dynamics, both present and past

AM-> who are the players?
Me- MFs, LIC, Banks Etc

AM-> why do you securitize?
Me-> profit/CAPAD/Liquidity

AM -> Compare US and Indian MBS/ABS
Me-> told abt structures, AAA nature, wat gets sold etc

AM-> WHy do people buy these PTC in India
ME-> told good return, no default. AM seemed interested

AM-> Can US Subprime happen in India?
me-> No.OFS not present. CDO square not present

AM-> Tell me abt pricing of ABS
Me-> Risk Free+ premiums

AM-> OK, you have done MBA.tell me about Miller modigillani propositions.
me-> told him abt prop 1 and prop 2

AM-> connect Miller modigillani proposition 2 with Securitization market i India?
Me-> Stupified. Didn’t get the question.

AM-> Tell me why is a 300 bips spread between AAA and AAA(so) ?
me-> liquidity premium

AM-> Thanks, Any questions?
Me-> scholarship?
Me-> why has TARP sometimes given only $ 1 as aid to some banks?

AM-> Responded.
AM-> Thanks for calling us, expect result on 27 march.

Me- Thanks.

Interview lasted for about 15 mins. Overall it was OK. No cross questioning.It was much more technical than I had expected. I was satisfied, don’t know what will happen although

My article in Business Standard & Rediff Money, 25th December 2007




Varun Agrawal: The market`s coming of age
Varun Agrawal / New Delhi December 25, 2007

Sebi’s intention of introducing a volatility index (V-I) and derivatives based on it for Indian markets is a welcome move.The Rammohan Rao committee’s proposed V-I, among other things, signifies the financial sector’s coming of age.
India’s futures and options market has seen a boom in the past five years. While a total of only 176,000 index put/call options worth Rs 3,800 crore (Rs 38 billion) were traded on the NSE in 2001-02, those numbers have skyrocketed to 25 million and Rs 7,92,000 crore (Rs 7920 billion) respectively, in 2006-07. Similarly, the total trading volume in NSE options has jumped from a paltry $555 million in 2000-01 to $1.7 trillion in 2006-07. That’s a neck-breaking 214 per cent compounded growth rate y-o-y. With such growth in volumes, the time is ripe to introduce long-awaited new products.
The V-I will measure the market’s expectation of Nifty/Sensex volatility over the coming month (30-day period). Since 1993, VIX, the first volatility index introduced by the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), has been a huge hit. A number of other exchanges around the world have also introduced some mutation of it and have had the same experience.
The V-I will help Indian markets in more ways than one.
First, it will be the most direct measure of the increasing market volatility and will thus be helpful in the pricing of options. Second, this measurement will help investors hedge and speculate over the very property of volatility. Third, its input will enhance better prediction by Value at Risk (VaR) and other risk management models. Fourth, it will reduce transaction costs for betting on volatility because the speculator will have to buy only one VIX derivative, instead of at least two for constructing strangle/straddles. Fifth, it will encourage market participants to move ‘onshore’ instead of playing in private offshore arenas.
But even beyond these uses, it sends a very important signal worldwide, that India is ready to move to the next level of financial maturity. While our capital markets are very well-developed (the BSE is the world’s largest in terms of the number of scrips listed, while the NSE is the world’s largest by stock futures trading volume), there is a dearth of modern financial products. Sebi’s wish to introduce seven new products including V-I is a well-thought out decision to break out of the shackles.
According to recent news reports, India Index Services & Products Ltd (IISL), a joint venture between CRISIL and NSE, has expressed a desire to be a leading player for devising the index. It is likely to do so because of its experience in this space.
However, it’s not that the rollover will be smooth. There are certain unique issues that will have to be tackled. The single biggest problem in devising the index will be liquidity concerns. Indian derivative markets are still in the budding stage. While the number of puts and calls traded on the index has risen significantly, their depth and liquidity is a major concern. All this might lead to ‘holes’ while constructing the proposed volatility index.
According to my preliminary research, in all likelihood, we’ll follow the old VIX methodology for calculating V-I. The new VIX methodology might be unsuitable for calculating the Indian volatility index because options on Nifty, though aplenty at at-the-money strike, show an erratic behaviour for out-of-money and in-the-money strikes. Thus, a better and more practical method would be to go for the old VIX methodology which uses eight at-the-money options. These are relatively easily available and are more traded than their counterparts.

The first to cash in on opportunities in new derivative products in India are large institutional players who have already tried their hands at similar products in other markets, like the CBOE, NYSE or LME. The situation might not be any different here. The first to jump on the bandwagon would be foreign banks and other large institutional players. Retail investors will be the last to try their hands at V-I futures and options because of the classic risk-averse mentality. They are likely to wait and see what other participants are doing before giving it a shot. That said, even the average retail investor is expected to use the V-I as an index to gauge where the market is going and use the insights in buying options on other securities and shares.

One of the problems cited in Mumbai’s way to becoming an IFC is the lack of innovative financial products. While the V-I is not the panacea for all financial problems, it certainly is a very good indicator of Sebi’s long-term reforms to align India with global best practices and vision.

The writer, a student at New Delhi’s Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, can be reached at cfa.varun@gmail.com

अरविंद मामा


मुझे मामा के साथ बात करना पसंद है क्यूंकि हर बार उनसे बात करने पर कुछ नया सीखने को मिलता है और उनका point of view मुझे एक और दिशा दिखता है।

उनसे बात करने से मुझे प्रेरणा मिलती है कि मैं सतत बेहतरी के पथ पर बढूँ। हम रूक नही सकते। हम थक भी नही सकते। मैं नही सोच सकता था कि मैं कभी Oxford/LSE/Stanford कि बातें करूंगा। शायद मैं उन जगह न भी पहुंच पाऊँ, लेकिन यह बात कि आज कमसकम मैं वहाँ जाने की तमन्ना रखता हूँ, क्या यही कुछ कम है?

यह मत सोचो कि अभी क्या मिल रहा है, यह सोचो कि आज से ५ साल या १० साल बाद क्या मिलेगा ।हम जीते या हारे, ये मेरा bhavishya teh करेगा न कि मेरा vartmaan

आहूति बाक़ी, यज्ञ अधूरा
अपनों के विघ्नों ने घेरा
वर्तमान के मोहपाश में ,
आने वाला कल न भुलाएं,
आओ फिर से दिया जलायें! “
~~ वाजपेयी , आओ फिर से दिया जलायें

My first Post


Decadence is setting in. My ideas & ethics are dying and am everyday getting more and more materialistic.

A number of thoghts cross my mind everyday. This is an attempt to word my emotions on a gamut of things.

If you’re here to find some fun stuff, you’ll be dissapointed. This is meant to be more of a chronicle rather than an intellectual/entertainment portal!

However, if you’re here to see what have i been up to; you’re more than welcome.

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