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Working at Optiver

Optiver Internship: Ten weeks to discover your future of improving the market.

August 5, 2021

Imagine learning as much in 10 weeks as you might in 10 months of college and having a seriously good time doing it. That’s the Optiver Tech and Trading Summer Internship. It’s 10 action-packed weeks of immersive education, hands-on experience, and countless opportunities for professional and personal growth.

The goal is that by the end of your internship—whatever the future may hold—you’ll be fully equipped to join the Optiver team as a trader or software engineer. That’s why you’ll receive essentially the same training as our full-time hires. For our trading interns, that includes simulated trading using our proprietary data and systems. For our tech interns, that includes real project assignments and multiple opportunities to release code into production, with the high likelihood that you’ll have code running in production before your internship is over. Throughout the internship, you’ll be surrounded by mentors who will eagerly share their knowledge with you.

Of course, the internship experience isn’t limited to the work you do within the walls of our office. Everything is catered for during your time with us, including a furnished apartment, meals, and a full calendar of fun, social events. All to help you more deeply connect with your fellow interns, the broader Optiver team, and the city of Chicago. So by the time the internship ends, we hope you’ll feel less like an intern and more like a full-fledged Optiver team member.

But don’t take our word for it. The best authority on our internship is the interns themselves. Hear firsthand from some of them about their experiences.

NAME: Julia Ruskin
INTERNSHIP POSITION: Software Engineer Intern

What attracted you to the Optiver internship?

I was impressed by Optiver’s collaborative culture and the internship program’s emphasis on learning. Coming into a new industry, I wanted to make sure I had all the training and resources to succeed. I was also excited about Optiver’s two-week tech bootcamp for interns. I also wanted to work in a fast-paced, yet cooperative environment where my projects would be challenging and impactful, and I could tell throughout the interview process that Optiver checked all those boxes.

How much experience did you have in trading or finance before this internship?

Before this summer, I had no trading or finance experience at all. I hadn’t taken any classes about the field or interned in the industry before, so I came in with an open mind and ready to learn.

What about your background best prepared you for an internship at a trading firm like Optiver?

Last summer, I interned at a tech startup in a computer vision engineering role. Since the company was so small, I was able to make an immediate impact and take full ownership of my projects, and I had to learn a lot about the field very quickly. I think that even though Optiver is a larger company, it still has the same feel as that startup company in some ways: Within my first week, I was able to release my code into production, and the environment is also fast-paced. My internship experience last summer helped me become comfortable with asking lots of questions, learning and adapting quickly, and taking responsibility for all of my work. Each of these skills has come in handy during my time at Optiver.

What has been most surprising about your experience at Optiver?

I’ve been most surprised by how willing everyone is to answer questions and lend a helping hand. I was worried that in a fast-moving environment like Optiver, my mentor and other engineers might be too busy to take the time to answer my questions, but that could not have been further from the case. Whenever I’ve run into an issue, I’ve been able to reach out to engineers across the firm and get my questions answered within the hour, and my mentor has consistently prioritized my learning and helped me through every step of the development process.

Talk about what you’ve learned during your time here, thus far.

Since this is my first time interning at a larger company, I’ve learned a lot about the development workflow. I’ve familiarized myself with new programming languages and IDEs, learned to use all the development tools at my disposal, and become more comfortable with asking questions and reaching out whenever I need help. I’ve also become a much better developer due to all the feedback I’ve received from my mentor and other engineers on my team. Prior to this internship, I’d never had to work within a large codebase, so I’ve learned a lot about writing good, clean code. Finally, I’ve gotten a better sense of what it’s like to work at a trading firm, and now, this industry that I once knew virtually nothing about seems a lot less daunting and more inviting.

NAME: Charlie Koudsi
INTERNSHIP POSITION: Trading Intern

What attracted you to the Optiver internship?

There were many things that attracted me to the Optiver internship. One of the aspects I liked most is how centered the internship is around education. Rather than giving the interns menial tasks, Optiver puts us through the same training program the full-time hires go through. I was especially excited by the prospect of doing simulated trading using the exact same systems and software that the full-time traders use.

How much experience did you have in trading or finance before this internship?

I didn’t have much experience in trading or finance prior to starting at Optiver. I spent my previous two summers doing data science at a cryptocurrency trading firm, so I had a small amount of trading knowledge, but I knew close to nothing about options theory.

What about your background best prepared you for an internship at a trading firm like Optiver?

I think my constant drive to solve problems and my competitive spirit are both tremendously helpful for a role at a trading firm. I think a big part of trading is problem-solving on the fly, so coming in with this skill set is quite helpful. Additionally, trading is ultimately a zero-sum game, so my constant motivation to be the best version of myself lends itself quite well to a role in trading.

What has been most surprising about your experience at Optiver?

I’ve definitely been most surprised by how collaborative trading is at Optiver. I had this impression that trading was a hyper-competitive space where people were afraid to work together, but I could not have been more wrong. Traders at Optiver are constantly collaborating and sharing insights in the pursuit of a common goal.

Talk about what you’ve learned during your time here, thus far.

I’ve learned so much in my time at Optiver. I started this internship with near-zero knowledge of options theory, so the four weeks that we spent learning in the classroom were instrumental. Although we’ve only started sim trading within the last week, with each passing day, I gain a wealth of knowledge spanning trading, Optiver’s systems, market structure, and options.

NAME: Andrew Shao
INTERNSHIP POSITION: Trader Intern

What attracted you to the Optiver internship?

What attracted me to the Optiver internship the most was the fact that I could trade on a real trading desk with similar responsibilities as a full-timer. No other firm offers this same opportunity to trade in the markets and gain an understanding of what traders actually do. Most other places will have you just go through an education program, work on projects, or play trading games, even if you have had experience working as a trader intern in previous summers. At Optiver, I’ve been able to work directly on the trading floor and trade products that would normally be the responsibility of a full-time trader, which has been an invaluable experience.

How much experience did you have in trading or finance before this internship?

This is my second internship at Optiver, but before my first internship, I didn’t have any experience in trading or finance. I didn’t even know what traders really did before I interned here. The initial education program teaches you everything that you have to know and doesn’t assume any prior knowledge about trading.

What about your background best prepared you for an internship at a trading firm like Optiver?

My mathematical background is what best prepared me for a trading internship. Having a good understanding of multivariable calculus and probability is very useful for learning option theory, but I also apply the logical thinking and quick mental math skills I’ve gained from my math background.

What has been most surprising about your experience at Optiver?

The most surprising thing about my experience so far has been the level of responsibility I’ve been entrusted with. Given my inexperience and the fact that I was an intern, I thought Optiver would limit the size of trades I could do. However, almost from the moment I was certified to trade by FINRA, I was able to (alongside full-times) trade with the same limits as anyone else on the desk. Within the first month, the other returning intern and I were trading the product on our own. It was scary at first but really helped us learn quickly.

Talk about what you’ve learned during your time here, thus far.

Aside from option theory and trading principles, the most valuable thing I have learned so far is what working as a trader is actually like. Coming into my first internship, I didn’t have any idea what traders really did on a day-to-day basis, so the opportunity to work alongside full-time traders every day was exactly what I was looking for.

If you’re excited at the prospect of joining us for an internship, you can apply below for next year’s open intern roles.