Shaunak Natarajan – Optiver

Hello, I am Shaunak, now a fourth-year in EE, dual degree (point of interest), and am currently one of the Chief Editors of Insight, probably why I get to write this blog. (read: tyrannical)

Getting Selected, Autumn 2020

Heading into the season, I knew I didn’t want to do anything in EE or CS, which I later realised would make the number of opportunities for a DD student pretty tiny. For general pre-season prep, I had a case group. Yes, I know, DD, but it was a great group of people and was a lot of fun. While maybe not directly useful, it helped me present my thoughts with more clarity and better my general interview skills. Also, I mean, there wasn’t a lot of stuff going on for me at the time to pass up on this awesome bunch of people. Other than this, I did the usual aptitude and probability puzzles (quant) that companies love asking, and I’ve always enjoyed doing.

I got two shortlists over the entire season; one was an inadvertent Adobe shortlist in August. Inadvertent as I only wished to give the test and had left a question for good measure. My resume didn’t have anything in CS or ML, which is why I was sure of not getting shortlisted. Unfortunately, I was, which meant I had to give an interview compulsorily. However, the interview lasted only 12 minutes, culminating in my telling a somewhat puzzled IITR alum, two weeks into his job, that the call was a mistake. That was my first notable experience with the internship process; admittedly, it doesn’t really count.

My next and final shortlist was Optiver, whose IAF, promising massages and bicycles, opened in September. Their selection process consisted of a quick arithmetic test, another test consisting of probability and aptitude questions, a market-making game and a couple of interviews. The first two were standard and can be practised online. 

For the market-making game, a few of us shortlisted made a group and practised making markets. While this was helpful, the actual round was still very exhilarating and nerve-wracking. After this was two consecutive interviews, one “technical” and one HR. The “technical” interview was in line with most quant interviews, so do look up relevant books and websites (UGAC has a decent repository). Basically, be quick, accurate and crisp; trading firms love that. 

Soon after, I was given news of my selection; I was elated, also a tad relieved, and the next four months were very chill with COVID not being as much of a bitch.

End of Spring 2021

Fast forward to the end of April, at which point the four of us interns had been nearly onboarded, our tickets to Amsterdam were booked, and we were looking forward to a fresh and challenging seven weeks in Europe. We were then greeted with the following news on 26th April, a couple of weeks before we were set to fly out:

How fun 😀

This ban went on till June 1st, which meant that our intern, slated to start on 10th May, had become Work From Home. Also, because trading is fairly infrastructure intensive, our internship was truncated to 3 weeks, and we started on the 17th.

(You can now probably see why the “Getting Selected” section is that big)

Summer 2021

Optiver takes care of its interns (and employees too, hopefully, :p) and wants to give the best experience while also being exposed to their world. Those three weeks at home were engaging and educational, quite the contrast to the usual mundane drag of an EE semester (I might’ve gone a little overboard with the dichotomy). We worked Amsterdam hours, meaning an 11:30 AM IST start, which I was chuffed with. The four of us were trained in options trading basics, interacted with many of the teams and desks at Optiver, and worked on some trading problems on a platform they had improvised for this WFH setting. I had a few networking calls with alums and employees at Optiver that were insightful (and important eventually :p). They also organised a fair few HR events for us, which in retrospect are a lot more fun than what we’d felt back then. 

One of the pointers given to me by my editors was to write about the pros and cons of WFH. (To be fair, I was part of the SummerBlog team last year, and this pointer existed back then too) Unsurprisingly, there’s not a lot in favour of WFH here, maybe just lower tax rates :p

On the last day of my internship, my trainer informed me that they were offering me a job full-time after graduation. (In 2023, DD remember?)

Now one might ask what I did with the rest of my summer. Being offered a job a month into (4th June) a three-month-long summer at home isn’t the most conducive to productivity. And sure enough, I didn’t do much apart from a few outings and a ton of video calls (helo DB).

Me on Wall Street in June; seemed a little apt for the blog

General thoughts and reflections, entering Autumn 2021

I entered the season blissfully unaware of how sucky it would be for DD thirdies, and I don’t think I let the eventual realisation change my outlook; well, I tried for it not to. I got lucky in retrospect; others not so much. Some thoughts and reflections:

  • Your intern, or lack of it, isn’t a very great metric of anything, even of how good of an employee you would be. Don’t let the insecurity of a below expectation intern or the imposter syndrome of an above expectation intern consume you. These lines of thought shall knock on your door, which brings me to the next point
  • Surround yourself with awesome people, and no, I don’t mean awesome by the faulty metric your internship season might provide. I mean, people that give you energy rather than drain it out; won’t be too difficult to discern
  • Try your best to talk to seniors that were in similar situations to you, in terms of degree, branch etc. You will get the most accurate picture from that set, and it is something I missed out on doing
  • Prep hard but don’t lose sight of other important things, both tangible and intangible
  • Be a stoic

You can disregard the last one, but try to keep the others in mind.

Thank you for reading through this hastily written blog (yes, that’s my excuse). You can find my contact details at the bottom of (indeed, a shameless plug)

Reach out to me in case you have questions beyond what I have already mentioned, though bear in mind I am basically an employee at Optiver now 😉

6 months ago