Alma Mater: University of Maryland
Hometown: Annapolis, MD
SIG offered the opportunity to learn a lot more about software development in ways that were very different than my experience at the time. I knew that I could learn more about the finance field, which I was unlikely to have exposure to otherwise. I was interested in the number of classes that SIG offered the interns in both technical content and decision theory content. I also liked that as an intern, you work on projects that the business actually needed, instead of a “dummy project” to keep you busy.
First, the culture is extremely open. As an intern, I was able to go out to dinner with the founders and hear talks from the founders or senior members of SIG. It is almost like a start-up environment in this way. When I would tell my friends about SIG, I would call it the Silicon Valley version of a finance company. As an intern wearing shorts and parking next to a founder, I felt like I was not far off by describing the firm in this way. Additionally, the people I worked with are brilliant and this could be intimidating if the culture was not so open. But the combination of brilliant people and an open culture creates the perfect feedback loop where smart people learn more from each other.
The most rewarding experience was working on a real project where I made most of the technical decisions and then saw it through to production. As a full-time employee now, it is rewarding to see my intern project still being used. This experience made me a much more confident developer.
As an example, I worked on the Market Data team and I was responsible for finding gaps in our historical market data. This dataset was petabytes large, so there were many unique challenges. Other than the size of the data, there were hundreds of different formats and it was not known exactly when some of the feeds had stopped supporting specific formats. My system needed to find the gaps and find when parsers failed on feeds. I wrote the tools to do this and was given access to very powerful machines to process this dataset.
As an intern, my team treated me like a regular employee. They gave me all of the information that I needed and included me in the team meetings. If I had a problem, I would just walk over to the desks of my teammates to go through it with them. I didn’t need to create a formal meeting just to ask a question. I also had the chance to demo what I was working on several times to iteratively solve the problems I was solving.
The technology at SIG is extremely fast moving and iterative. You spend your time coding and demo-ing instead of countless meetings about theoretical designs. This is not to say there is no planning, but planning is used where it is needed and iterative design is used everywhere else. At SIG, “the best idea wins,” so technologists are encouraged to try a new approach or technology, even if it is not the way we normally do things.
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