Sunday, February 1, 2009

I Join DRW Trading

Well I'm back in Chicago to work for DRW Trading. It was tough leaving ThoughtWorks but this was an opportunity I just couldn't pass up.

The interview process at DRW is the toughest I've seen in my career. It's the only company that has ever put me through eight interviews (six technical). I love interviewing. One of my dream jobs is to be a professional interviewer. It's also why I like presenting. I love the last ten minutes of a presentation because I never know what someone is going to shoot at me.

When I interview I'm not just there to do my best at answering questions and asking questions. I also want to see if the interviewers are asking the right questions. If I get an offer after getting through the interviews without being quizzed on unit testing, iterative delivery or continuous integration ... I know I'm probably going to regret taking the offer.

Other bonus points for me were the catered breakfast and lunch, a lot of health benefits I'll never use, and an iPhone. I don't like working in structured environments with a lot of rules, so I was very relieved by the fact that there is no dress code at DRW. Still very impressed at the compensation package they put together for me right in the middle of a global recession. I'm also looking forward to working with so many fellow ThoughtQuitters.

Anyways, tomorrow I start a new job and boy do I have a lot to learn about trading. I'll be investing a lot less in my technical knowledge portfolio and lot more in the domain, at least for the short term. Besides, software is about to enter a pretty boring period. Concurrency and mobile are obviously going to matter more, but I keep telling people "the next big thing in software is going to be a little thing in hardware". I've got my eye on gumstix and GPU development.

I am certainly missing San Francisco though. I spent a little more than a year at my last two clients out in the bay area and I sure will miss the weather. I'll also miss the travel opportunities I got with consulting. Living on the road always fit well with me. Relocating back to Chicago was pretty easy this time because everything I own fits into a single trunk and a single piece of luggage. Now that I will have a permanent address, or at least a permanent city, I have to go buy things like dishes and chairs.

Well, that's about it for me. If any of you are in Chicago and you want to meet up just to talk about technology or trading, shoot me an email.

14 comments:

Vivek said...

Bobby joined DRW too?! Good luck Dennis.

Michael Klynstra said...

Congrats on the new gig. We should grab a beer.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dennis,

I’m a Masters in Financial Engineering student at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. I have been granted the opportunity to interview on campus for DRW Trading for a Trading Assistant position.
I just read what you have posted on your blog on February 1st, 2009. Well, congrats for getting the job!
DRW Trading is a company I would love to work for. The size, the philosophy, the entrepreneurial direction and the location of DRW would definitely be the environment I would want to be surrounded by while working and learning.

I was researching about the structure and rigorousness of the interviews held at DRW.
It seems that you love interviewing and I assume you are good at it!
I would mostly appreciate you sharing some insight that can be helpful to me determining what DRW look for in a person when interviewing for a Trading Assistant Position.

Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.

jonathan said...

@Anonymous

I interviewed for trading assistant in 2004. They were a high energy workplace: lots of smart people, moving quickly. I really enjoyed the interview. It was one of my favorite ones of all the companies I went to.

For instance, play with mental math calculations and some puzzles. They want to see how you think, so as you are answering their questions, talk and show your thought process. If you're wrong, that's okay generally, at least you show them you are logical and they can evaluate your thought process, not just your answer. Also, ask questions to make sure you understand the questions.

On the way home I was multiplying and dividing mile markers by speed limits or any other number I saw on the highway. I really felt charged up and smart after the interviews.

But it is more than just math. Much more than that. You'll probably do several team building exercises, or case studies / scenarios, as well as social events. Be yourself and get to know the other candidates -- you want to see if you fit in as well as if you can get an offer.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Dennis,

I am an undergraduate (3rd year) in Computer Science at UIUC. I recently had the pleasure of meeting some of DRW's software engineers at our campus Engineering Expo. In turn, I have been invited to an interview for a software engineering internship position with the company.

I came across your blog while doing some further research on DRW (it appears you are quite the fan of Erlang['s concurrency]. I am also interested in the Actor Model, especially considering the multi-core future). That said, I will get to the point.

I would appreciate if you could share some thoughts on being a software engineer in the financial ecosystem, especially with regards to working at DRW, or any prop-trading firm for that matter.

Will having more than the customary entry-level knowledge of trading and finance significantly aid someone in a software engineering position in either the short or long term? Or would said person be better served by honing their technology and programming abilities?

Looking back to your introduction to the industry, what did you wish you knew, tech and finance-wise?

What technologies are essential? Are there any specific libraries or modules in use that I should familiarize myself with?

Is the interview process generally testing programming and language expertise or more focused on your problem-solving or analytical abilities?

What is the general ratio of work on new systems vs refactoring old code (for both interns/entry-level positions vs more senior ones)?

What do you find new hires and interns are most direly lacking?

How does Chicago compare to other cities for the young and restless?

Best and thanks for your thoughts!

Bob said...

Hi Dennis,

Do you know how DRW conduct interviews with folks out of state ? Do they do all phone interviews followed by a final in-person interview ?

Thanks very much.

Not Dennis Byrne said...

@Bob - We conduct interviews w/ folks out of state and out of the country. This involves many phone interviews and many in person interviews.

Bob said...

Thanks Dennis.

You said you had eight interviews with them before you were offered the job. How long did the entire process took ? In other words, I am wondering how long does it typically take (for a position in trading) from the time you apply to the final offer you get ?
Thanks.

Not Dennis Byrne said...

I can't tell you what it's like for a position in trading. In SE, it's different for everyone. For me it was about two weeks or so.

Bob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melvin said...

Hello Dennis,

I Have done Bachelors in Computer Engineering.I have around 3 and 1/2 years experience in Software Programming,Business Analysis etc.Now,I am doing Masters in Management Information System from Texas A and M,CS.Through the DRW Website,I have applied for "Business Analyst Intern".
What are the different criterion applied for offering Internship Interview Calls?

Can you tell me the "Intern-Business Analyst" Interview ?

Thank You.

Not Dennis Byrne said...

Hi Melvin. Here is what I got from recruiting ...

We look for people with a business (finance specifically) or economics background who have a strong desire to learn more about the trading industry. Any programming skills are a bonus. We also want people who are highly inquisitive and will challenge our current ideas and ways of doing things. Any work experience/internship in the consulting field or even as a business analyst is helpful as well.

Melvin said...

Hello Dennis,

When will the Interview Process for "Business Analyst Intern" start?.Has DRW offered Interview calls already?I have basic knowledge of Finance Domain(Trading,Algorithmic Trading etc) experience, But i have required Business Analysis,Requirement Engg,IT Architecture Skills.Most Important thing is strong desire to work in Financial Services Firm.Do i stand a chance for Interview Call?

Not Dennis Byrne said...

@Anonymous

- Let me start by saying that these are my opinions and not those my employer. That goes for everything on the blog actually. OK, that being said, here goes ...

I would appreciate if you could share some thoughts on being a software engineer in the financial ecosystem, especially with regards to working at DRW, or any prop-trading firm for that matter.

- DRW has a very Agile approach to software development. We are big on TDD and Continuous Integration. This is not an environment with a lot of solo programming. It's a shame academia is so far behind in these areas.

Will having more than the customary entry-level knowledge of trading and finance significantly aid someone in a software engineering position in either the short or long term? Or would said person be better served by honing their technology and programming abilities?

- This is a domain where you're going to need to know both how to code and the business domain. If I had to choose between the two though, I'd recommend just focusing on core SE skills.

Looking back to your introduction to the industry, what did you wish you knew, tech and finance-wise?

- I took calculus (in college) when I was 16 and turned my back on math the day after the final. The only exception was a lot of stats in college, but that's another story. Anyways, my point is that quitting math at that age was pretty stupid.

What technologies are essential? Are there any specific libraries or modules in use that I should familiarize myself with?

- Do not study specific libraries to do better on an interview here! I would focus on the basics ... Object Oriented programming and data structures and algorithms. Have you noticed that LISP is more than half a century old? Smalltalk and "The Mythical Man-Month" go back to the 70s. It really does blows my mind when I think of how many engineers keep making the same mistakes (that were solved so long ago). You don't have to have experience in an Agile work environment but you should be open to working this way. Wouldn't hurt to know a little about concurrency also.

Is the interview process generally testing programming and language expertise or more focused on your problem-solving or analytical abilities?

- You will not be expected to know the specifics of a language. I can think of a half dozen we use just off the top of my head (although I'm not at liberty to say which ones).

What is the general ratio of work on new systems vs refactoring old code (for both interns/entry-level positions vs more senior ones)?

- Most interns/entry level people are doing a little bit of both. By the way, working with code written by other people is a much better learning experience than green field application development. Personally I don't trust a developer who hasn't worked on a legacy code base.

Good luck!