Morgan Stanley: Varun Bhave

1066 Views, Posted on: July 18, 2015

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Varun Bhave

I was elated when I first found out that I’d been selected in Morgan Stanley for their internship program. Now, more than halfway through the intern, I can say that I have not been disappointed with whatever it had in store. So far, the internship has been a valuable learning experience, fulfilling whatever expectations I had.

Pre-Intern Experience

Morgan Stanley normally opens up within the first 2 months of the first semester, making it one of the first few non-core companies to visit the campus. The department at Morgan Stanley where the interns are placed is Strats and Modelling (MSSM).

The selection procedure starts off with a test. The questions are fairly difficult, and are broadly based on probability, statistics and algorithms and coding. It is recommended to brush up these topics before the tests and interviews. Based on test scores, candidates are shortlisted for interviews. Most people typically had multiple interviews before selection, generally around 3-4 in number. The interviews were technical in nature, with questions similar to those asked in the test. In addition, there were also some general questions like ‘Why do you want to join finance?’.

All in all, if you know the above topics well, you are in a good position to crack it. The questions are fairly generic and focus on checking one’s aptitude in these areas as opposed to some specific knowledge.

Working at MS

There are multiple teams within the MSSM department and the exact work you do will depend on which team you are assigned to. The work primarily involves coding in different languages to implement certain tasks (for example, curve calibration, marking of financial instruments).

The work environment is excellent. You get an opportunity to interact with some very intelligent and helpful co-workers, who are ready to assist you in whatever projects you’re involved in (plus, the majority of people working there are from IITs, so you’ll feel quite at home with the people around you). One peculiarity which I noticed on my first day (and hadn’t expected) was the uniformity of the working place. The office is wallless, so whether you’re an intern or a vice president, you’ll be working in the same type of desk. This makes everyone much more approachable, and asking for help a lot easier.

The work timings are flexible, and depend upon what time your manager and your team members helping you out come in. In general, there is flexibility in the timings as long as you get your work done. For me, it was quite comfortable; I would go in at around 12 noon and come back late in the night.

MS

What work will you get?

Most of your work will primarily involve coding. The type of coding you’ll do will depend on your project. For instance, work could include writing a script to generate a spreadsheet, developing a utility used in analysing markets, studying an algorithm and implementing it, finding out ways to make a given system run faster, etc. (you may need to do many of these within a project.). During the course of your intern, you will have regular meetings with your managers and other senior management (who could be located anywhere from New York and London to Budapest), in which you’ll need to update them on your progress and results. Additionally, the work you shall do will be valuable to the firm company. The work interns are given is generally what that associated company actually plans to incorporate immediately in their existing code base and implement. This makes the internship a net positive for both, you and Morgan Stanley.

Currently, I’m midway through my second project. My first project was developing a cron utility that would perform certain tasks at certain scheduled predefined times.This project was pretty programming intensive; I had to learn new programming languages and add to some existing code. My second project is more finance-based, and is to write a program for marking certain financial instruments (retrieving their price, spread, etc). Basically, this involves figuring out how to output prices (and other parameters) of these financial instruments and study pricing algorithms and code to understand why the values are not matching with end-of-the-day market values.

Food, Accommodation and Travel

The office is in Mumbai, so accommodation is not an issue – unless you have a house nearby, you’ll likely be staying inside IIT. For me, food and travel were never issues either. The firm cafeteria was pretty good; definitely a lot better than mess food. As for travel, the firm provides transportation back to your home if you leave late in the night. For travelling to office, you’ll need personal transportation; I normally take an auto.

Pros and Cons

Pros

– You’ll learn a lot from your project (what areas will depend on your project, of course).

– Experience of working inside a financial institution. You’ll get to learn a lot about the culture inside financial companies, and just generally, how things work. If working in a comfortable atmosphere inside a large financial company sounds enticing to you, you’ll definitely love this aspect of the job.

– Get to know and interact with some really smart, approachable and helpful colleagues.

Cons

– Your work will involve a lot of coding. Of course, if this is the type of work you were looking for, then this isn’t a negative aspect, but this is what your work will primarily involve.

– It’s in Mumbai (also a positive, depending on how you look at it). In case you love travelling/going to new places, you won’t get to go to a new city (not something that should factor into your decision though).

All in all, Morgan Stanley has been an overall positive experience for me, one in which I’ve got to learn immense amounts, and one which I’d definitely recommend to all interested juniors.

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