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Routes for Programming Jobs in the UK

Discussion in 'Mac Programming' started by Eraserhead, Jan 23, 2008.

  1. macrumors G4


    I am now in my final year of University doing a Mathematics Degree at Warwick and am in line for getting a 2:1 or possibly a 1st at the end of the year. I am interested in doing a career in creating software either for Mac or another platform (I realise that finding Mac Development jobs will be difficult :p). I am skilled in Cocoa, having created D&D Manager, and also know C and Java. I will also be doing some ASP.net in a business course this term, so I don't know how serious the work for that will be :p.

    I would like to apply for a job but is that sensible? Is it worth doing further study?

    I am also looking at doing some travelling next year, I was planning to go from August to March, and then to look for a job afterwards, as that will mean I won't spend any time not doing very much. However the University advisors have said that I need to be in the UK from September to January to apply for Graduate positions.


  2. macrumors 6502a

    I used to work as an IT recruitment consultant in London, though that was about 10 years ago, but I'll try to give you some advice.

    First, Math degree from Warwick, with a 2:1 or 1st. With a grade like this you could well be looking at working in a good city financial firm, the Square Mile or Canary Wharf. Many of them stipulate that they want at least 2:1 degrees, even after years of experience. With a Math background, I would also suspect these kinds of institutions would be looking at you for things like C and Java, rather than .NET. Most of this work would probably be on UNIX, and for finance houses this usually means Solaris.

    As for Mac development, in the UK these opportunities are few and far between, though I have noticed a marked increase since I left the industry. Most of the Mac work is at operator level. Development work tends to be cross platform, web based applications, and they usually have a phenomenally long list of technologies involved.

    To begin with you should look for a permanent position, not contract. This will give you commercial experience. This is what employers want. They want someone who has done a very similar project before, knows all the problems and how to overcome them. Permanent positions will also allow you exposure to a much broader range of technologies, and usually better projects, not just bug fixing.

    As for travel, if I were in your position, I would take a job first, for a year or 18 months. Get some commercial experience, a bit of money in the bank, and then travel. I don't know where you want to go, but (and I am assuming you are around 21 years old) with some experience behind you, you could do something like go to Australia on a 1 year work visa and easily get a job there doing more or less the same thing. I worked with many developers who had done this, and the UK is full of Aussies, Kiwis, and S. Africans who are doing the same, just in the opposite direction. In fact, there is an organisation in London where they go to register the moment they step foot off the plane, which then forwards their details to all the agents in the UK. I am certain there is an equivalent agent in Australia or New Zealand. With the benefit of working in a good job in your travel time you could extend your travel significantly, and when you get back to the UK have more experience under your belt.

    Look at www.jobserve.com. This is a site all the agents used to use. There are many others that have sprung up in the 10 years I've been away from this game, but this is still used by just about everyone. It will give you a good idea of what kinds of jobs are out there. Don't get carried away by the salaries they are advertising!

    With your degree, and if you do get a 2:1 or 1st, I really don't think you will have a great deal of difficulty entering the IT market. Mac development in particular may be a different story, but with something like C or Java, you will be OK.

    I hope this helps.
  3. macrumors G4


    ^^ Thanks for the information, I'll have to think about what you've suggested :). To be honest I wasn't expecting to do Mac stuff, but as I've done more, then I would probably be better at it.

    PS To make your signature size 1, you need to change the final [size="1] to a [/size]
  4. macrumors regular

    I'm currently doing a one-year placement as part of my computing degree in Canary Wharf, and there was a guy that I met who was studying Maths at Warwick who did a 10 week summer internship. I'd say you should definitely look around in that area, with the most likely route of entry being a graduate training programme.
  5. macrumors 6502

    I've worked in Investment Banks for 10 years. The work isn't very interesting. I worked in both the Front Office and Bank Office. If you love stress and I mean stress, I don't mean that crap you call stress at Uni, I mean someone shouting at you since their software takes 1/2 second to process a trade and due to this unacceptable delay, they lost making a trade that would have given the bank 10million.

    If you're in the front office, you will need to know C.

    If you want to do interesting software development, stay away from banks. It's why I just quit and am going to work for a small company that is not much bigger than a startup doing very interesting work in mobile technology. It is serisouly dull in IBs.
  6. macrumors 65816


    Im in the same boat as Eraserhead and graduating this year but with a Computer Science Degree.

    My main skills a C and PHP, but I was wondering how you would get into the more exciting side of development, what I mean by that is more consumer orientated products, rather than the stuff garethlewis2 was talking about.

    I don't think I could cope with the stress :eek:
  7. macrumors G4


    So not programming for banks, I agree that I also don't want to do that.
  8. macrumors 6502a


    Sadly these days, unless you're doing defense work you may have to move to India.
  9. Moderator


    Staff Member

    I work for a bank, and have done since I left Uni. I actually find the work we do quite interesting: a mix of SQL, Perl and some really cool Java I've been writing over the last year. And you have to consider the money aspect too: I'd imagine that a graduate trainee in our technology areas would be on >£30k a year straight out of Uni...

    Eraserhead: if you want to discuss anything PM me, I was in a similar position 8/9 years ago and really though I did not want to work for a bank (I did a summer internship at Goldman Sachs and thought I wanted to be a games programmer)...
  10. macrumors 6502


    I hope you're kidding. Jobs in this industry are quite available unless you're very unqualified.
  11. macrumors regular

    Fair enough if you found it boring, but it's a bit unfair to stereotype all programming in banks as boring. I for one enjoy the work I have done.

    Half a second?! I should damn well hope you got shouted at!
  12. macrumors 6502a


    It is better now than it was in 2001/2002, but that's my cynicism showing through. Anybody who remembers that time and having to train their Indian replacements or else forfeit their severance will agree.
  13. macrumors 6502

    Just to add to my previous comment.

    If you're good at something. E.g. you know Calypso, Gloss, Kondor+, Sophis, that is what the IB will be putting you to work on. To be blunt, if all you can program in is Java, then that list shrinks to Calypso. Everything else is either C or C++.

    Some people find the work interesting. I find it boring. The most exciting code you will write will most likely involve comparing strings and making sure that when you round doubles, you round in favour of the bank and not the customer.

    After a while at a large bank you will begin to realise that you will be doing the same work, if you're lucky enough to work on a new project, it will be different, there will be more aspects for you to get involved in, e.g. what SCM to use, how to build and deploy to users, etc. If you are unlucky enough to work for a existing project, you will be most likely be doing maintenace work. Now in itself, this isn't dull, it allows you to see what decisions were made and how the code has evolved.

    Oh hell, I can't be bothered repeating what others have written so I will just post a link for an interview with a Wall Street Programmer, and I don't know who this guy is. I don't think anybody does.


    Just follow his advice. If you leave Uni and go straight to a bank, you will throw most of what you learned out of the window and be stuck doing very small menial tasks. Anyone who even thinks is wrong and is working for a bank has never worked for a software company. I have, you do more work at a software company, analysis, development, research, bug-fixing, etc.

    Just read the blog and the four others, and if you still want to work in an IB, and I can guarantee the only reason you will is for the money, then you must do what you believe you have to.
  14. macrumors newbie

    I'm new here but I feel I got to put 2 cents into the discussion as well.

    The TS said he was looking at a mathematics degree. Then I can almost guarantee you that the job opportunities in banks and hedge funds will be much more interesting.

    I work at a software company making front office trading systems, developing the risk calculation engine. I also have friends who works as quant/risk devs at hedge funds in London.

    The work is definetly not boring. If I compare with friends who has stuck with a "traditional" IT route, developing .NET for the web or whatever, we do tremendously more challenging stuff in the financial sector.

    The valuation/pricing/risk part really makes you use all the stuff you learn in Uni. You need the maths (even the simplest Black Scholes PDE solver needs stability analysis etc, risk stuff will have you look at Malliavin calculus etc), you need your CS skills (oh darn, that rainbow option pricer is a fraction of a second too slow - let's fix that monte carlo code) and you need good ol' programming skills.

    I mean, sure, there are boring jobs in the business as well - processing trades, writing mark-to-market routines etc, but with a math background you can hopefully avoid that.

    And the salary levels are good.

    I'll probably never leave finance. My friends at the hedge funds probably never will as well.
  15. macrumors 6502

    Unless the OP is getting a PhD in Theoretical physics or Mathematics, he isn't going to be hired as a quant. There aren't any quants in banks without PhDs. Actually if I remember rightly, there aren't any quants in Banks. They work for the companies that produce software the banks use to price trades and simulate the markets. These are usually very very bespoke consultancy firms. They also talk a load of BS. Only an idiot would sell a mortgage to a person who could not pay it bank, and that is what the quants systems do.
  16. macrumors 6502

    Just going to add another point.

    I don't really want to put anyone off working for a bank. There are a lot of good people who work there and you may find it stimulating. I personally didn't, this is why I am leaving.

    You will be paid more than in any other IT profession whilst working for a bank. Much more. Your bonus will be large if you work in the front office, not much if you work in the back office, where you will be and no bank is going to view this differently, a cost centre, not a profit centre. And since a bank is a very large organisation, you should have good job security.
  17. macrumors G4


    To be honest I'm a bit bored of the maths now, I'm not doing the 4-year masters course so I'm not up for a Phd in Mathematics.

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