realities@Canada universities #Davis

Davis agreed the quality of education is good in Canada universities, but students are less aggressive (I would say hungry) than in the U.S. He studied in a lesser-known college in Canada. His (and classmates’) salary grew but remained much lower than in U.S. even in pre-tax.

I feel U.S. pays high salary to software engineers. Canada may not.

(Same can be said about U.K. and France.)

Davis said “no investment banking jobs” (Same can be said about Australia.)

He gave examples to show — job opportunities are much fewer there.

(Same can be said about Australia.)

U.S. college graduates can find internships + job in the U.S., but Canadian college grads can’t so they usually work in Canada, with much lower salaries. Like in other countries, only a minority can break into more lucrative job markets overseas. There’s clearly an invisible barrier between Canada and U.S. job market. I thought there was none. Now I think the barrier is visa —

Canadian graduates need visa to work in U.S. TN is usable but still employers need extra legwork. Overall, Davis perceives a real barrier of entry. In 2016 I experienced something similar — Beyond the heavy door there’s a land of lucrative job opportunities. I wrote a blogpost about it.

  • I overestimated the “level playing ground” in U.S. job market. In reality, local candidates have an advantage bigger than I assumed.
  • I tend to overestimate my (or my kids’) raw talent. Without extraordinary talent we can kill the interview but we are not so extraordinary.
  • I underestimated the entry barrier.
  • Best example — I can see the advantage of Wall St as a job market relative to London (per Ram) and Singapore. Even a mediocre java guy can earn 150k. However, so many competent techies in Asia experience many obstacles when they try to break into Wall St. Most of them don’t bother to try.
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G9 asset classes,by dev-job mkt depth

Beware many big domains don’t need lots of developers.

  1. Bonds including sovereign
  2. [V] Eq (including ETF) cash and swap
  3. [V] FX cash and fwd
  4. Eq/FX options
  5. [Q] IRS
  6. IR (including bond) futures
  7. [Q] CDS
  8. [Q] MBS
  9. [d=will see higher demand for developers??]
  10. [V=volume and velocity drive the demand for developers]
  11. [Q=low volume but j4 automation is quantitative in terms of automated risk and pricing.] I believe these quantitative asset classes play to my “theoretical” strength and not too niche, but these domains aren’t growing.

competitiveness: Pre-teen sprinter + HFT selectivity

I was a decent sprinter at age 6 through 13, then I realized I was not good enough to compete at Beijing municipal level.

There are quite a number of HFT shops in Singapore. I think they have a higher bar than ibanks. At ibank interviews I felt again like that pre-teen sprinter, but HFT interview is generally too hard for me

## My github profile

Some interviewers have requested my github profile. I create github content for learning and to share with my friends, not really for interviewers. I have decided not to spend too much time polishing my github content. The content would be rough round the edges. If there’s any doubt or bug report, I would be happy to discuss.

unexpected longevity@FOSS

Conclusion — my tech-bets and investment in many FOSS technologies proved to be correct. In contrast, only a few of my tech bets on commercial softwares are correct — MSVS, Oracle, Sybase, Excel+VBA,

I didn’t want to spend too much effort analyzing the forces around FOSS, but to my surprise, those forces keep growing and evolving.

  • Eg: weblogic was once dominant, but left behind by Tomcat and Jboss
  • Eg: Microsoft has to contend with Linux, Java, Apache
  • Eg: Oracle has to keep developing OpenSolaris, and MySQL
  • Eg: IBM, Oracle … have to support Linux
  • Eg: SUN, HP-UX all lost the battle against Linux. SUN has no choice but OpenSolaris
  • Most of them have to face the stiff challenge by a single FOSS — GNU/Linux

Because a FOSS needs no revenue no payroll to stay alive, there’s no survival risk or financial uncertainty in a FOSS project. Therefore, a FOSS often has better longevity.

Some of the most influential, dominant, enduring and low-churn softwares are FOSS and are unlikely to change:

  1. linux, BSD-unix
  2. java and GCC
  3. python, perl, and most scripting languages
  4. most development tools in *nix
  5. many javascript frameworks
  6. many browsers

Q: what forces power the FOSS and provide the energy, momentum?
A: alpha-geeks who want to create a impact and legacy?

Apparently, you need just one (or a few) alpha-geek to create a formidable competitor to a software vendor’s army of developers.

socket^swing: distinct(specialized skill)from core lang

  • I always believe swing is a distinct skill from core java. A regular core Java or jxee guy needs a few years experience to become swing veteran.
  • Now I feel socket programming is similarly a distinct skill from core C/c++

In both cases, since the core language knowledge won’t extend to this specialized domain, you need to invest personal time outside work hours .. look at CSY. That’s why we need to be selective which domain.

Socket domain has much better longevity (shelf-life)  than swing!

talent + attitude = great developer

In your gym, we discussed that some developers could be very sharp, knowledgeable, analytical, fast-thinking, fast-learning, but most of these developers don’t achieve the greatness like the achievement of your “Hibernate” colleague. I can think of a few other “great” achievers.

– A Citi developer who built the pricing engine almost single-handed, with so much logic thrown in. Perhaps design wasn’t great, but this engine works — no mean achievement given the tons of functionality. There’s so much logic that it took initially 2 developers and later 3/4 full time guys to support it. (One of the guys said this implementation is overcomplicated.)

– A ML manager who knows the entire trading engine (execution, offer/bid, RFQ, PnL, pricing, ECN..) inside out. The other 4 full time developers under him can’t support the app as well as he can by himself. When he is on leave for 2 weeks, we worry about if production issues will stay unresolved.

It takes more than talent + diligence to achieve greatness. For one thing, the guy must spend a few years dedicated to researching and experimenting with the core parts of the system, without cold feat. In my GS team, everyone did this. Outside of GS, i don’t see many doing this sort of hardcore inside-out system hacking, which is mandatory to mastery. Typically it takes 3 (up to 5) years to become a master, but the great developers take 25% of the time. They focus, they work (much) harder, they go deep — fearless and relentless. They seem to (quietly) believe that they “can do it” in 25% of the time, and they stick to the timeline and finish it. Determination, confidence, commitment and drive — common qualities of a few of my team leads.

They also must know when to give up on something hopeless, fruitless, worthless, or something with poor cost/benefit ratio. Without this critical Judgment, one would invariably waste time in all kinds of situations, and lose momentum, lose opportunities, lose management support, lose confidence. I believe the few great achievements I know are all achieved with a tight deadline. Wasting time is deadly. Great developers must know how to identify and avoid deathly traps.

Almost always, they also need to work with many others to finish a big task quickly, so some people skill is required, to varying degrees. I’m not good at analyzing this so let me skip.

Needless to say, none of these qualities are testable in an interview. Everything can be faked up. Therefore I believe it’s impossible to identify powerful achievers by job interview.

Singapore is a trickier work place

Singapore is a trickier work place than US. It would be great to find a mentor and a protective manager.

I usually have good rapport with users, but it's possible that I may not jell well with some traders and some colleagues.

I hope to fall back on my ability to get-things-done and my system knowledge so they would feel it's hard to find someone to replace me.

other sound byte reminders — empathy, attitude..

2012 – make people feel comfortable with you
2011 – imagine most people’s average antenna is much longer
2011 – Identify your eccentricities and unlearn — conform. Shift midpoint of your spectrum of normalcy.
2010 – Make your manager look good
2004 – “Shrink” and “Be invisible
2006 – Identify role models and imitate
2005 – Assume other people are potentially intolerant, cynical, over-sensitive, fragile, inferiority-stricken, and won’t give me the benefit of doubt
2000 – Focus the next 14 days on making someone truly happy

Seek weekly/monthly feedback — GS career advice
empathy, protocol, etiquette
Be a “teammate” rather than a mere co-worker
Be open to bitter medicines, hard-to-swallow medicines