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"A bachelors degree in computer science doesn't hold much weight in financial services"

I am a managing director in a quant development team at a major bank. My team converts our quants' models into code, but I don't have a computer science qualification. 

Does that matter?  Well, it has not affected my employability.

In my opinion, computer science degrees count for less than they used to.  These days, a bachelor's in computer science doesn't hold much weight unless it's backed up by some interesting projects that demonstrate your talent. You need to do this fast: universities are producing so many comp sci graduates that in a few years these roles will require much more experience. The bar will be raised due to new AI tools and salaries will go down as the supply of workers rises and AI tools amplify their productivity. 

Having a comp sci degree alone is like knowing how to use a hammer, but not knowing what to build with it.  This limits the firms you can join and the jobs you can do to begin with.

You can overcome this, but you will need to put in the extra effort to gain the correct experience, to make the right connections and to learn the business and quantitative techniques that will take you to the next level.

You will also need to be lucky: someone will need to recognize your talents and your current line manager will need to be willing to accept you moving out of their area. Politics can be a hindrance.  

Good luck. 

Peter Harris is a pseudonym.

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AUTHORPeter Harris Insider Comment
  • co
    4 October 2023

    Colleges/Uni? Total scam, man. Degrees ain't the only way to level up your skills anymore. Sure, they might be a hotspot for all that wild partying and stuff, but damn, it's hella pricey. Honestly, you don't gotta flash a degree to prove you capable of learning and can pick up new skills and grow.

  • ph
    29 September 2023

    Some schools have fancy degrees but teach little. Some schools are looked down on yet provide highly usable skills. Plus, some students put in a lot more effort, and have a lot more talent than others. My first degree was a BS in Econ, along with business admin, accounting, and piles of programming classes taught by a professor who built systems for our state college system, and he taught us well. I later added an MBA in MIS - studying OS's, databases along with more of what I had in my first degree. Neither school was fancy, it's just that the IT instructors taught based on real life experience including a good understanding of how things worked - and how to right high quality code.

    Early in my career, I was administering tests to job candidates. Simple tests, simple instructions to follow - and most flunked, in particular because they couldn't or wouldn't follow instructions. We weeded out really bad programmers.

  • Be
    25 September 2023

    With all due respect to your opinion, I do deal with people that think the same every day and most of the time they end up on losing side of the argument, I am PhD in computer science with 20 years experience teaching at college and working on multiple large scale IT projects. A degree in computer science is not a hammer, it teaches you how to use the hammer the proper way, how to use computer language with data structure to produce applications that serve to reduce costs and increase productivity, I see what you mentioned a lot from people who have no background in CS where they come and say "oh I just need a fast track class in Python and I can create the best ML application " well the moment they are put on the spot concerning something outside the scope of that 30 days class they took, they fail. There is another problem I see from people that think this way, really bad code practices and spaghetti code that is hard to maintain, a good CS major student is a million time better than any day financial expert that says I can code because he took 1 or 2 bootcamps. The one thing I can recommend to future graduates in CS is that the pool of talent will become huge, and the only the brightest and the best will get jobs, another advise look at the world differently, life after college is not about job only, look at it from an entrepreneurial perspective, have a group of colleagues during college and create something new, a new app, a new AI assistant or something totally new, Good Luck to All

  • Ha
    Haydar Al-Rikabi
    23 September 2023

    But doesn’t AI raises the bar for quants as well?

    I guess all tech professions are similarly influenced by the advances in AI, and that will leave its marks on salaries and employability across the board.

  • Sh
    22 September 2023

    Banking is no longer where comp sci students want to go anyways.... Why go to GS (or worse, DB) to become a work slave for 100k when you can create your own startup or develop for Google and make 200k for twice less politics, hours and stress.... Good luck to you.

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