Alma Mater: Carnegie Mellon University
Hometown: Northborough, MA
Philadelphia was closer to my family than my other job offers, but, to be honest, I didn't know if the area would be a fit for me. When it came down to it, the work at SIG was more interesting than my other offers, so I gave it a try. And… yep, the rest is history!
I like nature. So, when I was picking where I wanted to live, I wasn't sure if the city would work for me. I decided to try it for a year, then head out to the suburbs if I didn't like it. During that first year, I started biking to work and found the Schuylkill River Trail, which gave me some of the outdoors I was looking for. Now, 6 years later, I'm still in the city, and loving it. My advice to new "transplants" is to try living in the city itself, it might be pleasantly surprising for you.
A few things I enjoy about Philly: you can walk anywhere. There's great food; we have excellent restaurants. Informal SIG happy hours also showed me some of the great bars of Philly - Jose Pistola's, Good Dog, and Franklin Mortgage.
There's a bunch of communities you can be a part of. I started finding my "people" with meetup groups - board game groups, Philly Sports League soccer, and Carnegie Mellon alumni events. This year, I joined the Frisbee community, which I highly recommend. Our games are at 6:30 p.m. right around the corner from work, and when the game is over, people pull out grills and eat and drink. It's easy to meet people here, for being the 6th largest city in the US, Philly is still very "small."
I was originally inspired by robotics. In middle school, my friend convinced me to join the Lego robotics team. I loved it, and continued robotics in high school. I also joined the programming team. I had never programmed outside of drag-and-drop Lego programming before, so I started out by helping with the logic part, picking up programming languages as we went. I knew I wanted to be either an engineer or a computer scientist. I ended up doing both in college, though towards the end, I found myself focusing more on computer science.
This year, I'm returning to my robotics roots! I'll be mentoring a high school robotics club at a local school this fall. I'm really excited to work with the students and hopefully inspire them to pursue a career in technology, too.
In my first year, I started working on trader-facing UI applications, often putting myself in the mind of a trader: if I were trading, how would I expect this feature to work? How useful would this new feature be? The traders use these front-end applications on a daily basis, and it was great to see my application up on their screens on my way to my desk.
As I grew, I took on new responsibilities. I became lead developer on a few applications, and worked more closely with traders. After a while, I realized I wanted to change up my focus and get closer to strategy development. I discussed my goals with my manager, and when a role opened up, he advocated for me. In my new role, I started working on a project that helps our Quantitative Research team implement trading strategies. Sometimes this works perfectly, and sometimes you get feedback like, this changed and we're not sure why. It's definitely a fulfilling role and what I wanted to work towards.
The environment is great. Sitting right on the trading floor puts you right in the action. When market moving events happen, you know about it. It also means I have easy access to traders and quants that I work closely with. This helps improve the application quality and speed up the feedback cycle. It reminds me of when you get a "report feedback" prompt on your computer. If it takes too much effort, you may never submit the issue. Being in such close proximity to my end users, they are more likely to report issues and requests, either by walking over and talking to me, or asking me to come by.
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