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  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Nicole Stallinger

Optiver stood out to me as a unique opportunity in high-frequency trading (HFT) with a hands-on, collaborative environment. My background in computer science provided a strong foundation, but Optiver's culture encourages continuous learning and growth.

What attracted you to apply for Optiver?

I didn’t know about HFT as a career path until a friend of mine got the opportunity to intern at Optiver. The internship seemed super fun, and the style of work struck me as extremely hands on. The environment is really unique in this industry, you have a high level of responsibility on interesting technical projects that are largely unblocked by red tape. This is largely because we are developing products for use entirely in house, so you can have an idea and release it for use within the same day. The work environment here has been a great opportunity for me to hit the ground running and grow quickly in a wide variety of domains.

What did you study and how is it relevant to your role at Optiver?

I studied computer science with a heavy focus on software engineering. It was quite a good baseline for my role here, both with the fundamental technical skills, and the soft skills around learning quickly and collaborating. You don’t need to come as an expert, the culture here is for us to learn on the job. I had no background in our programming languages (C++ mostly and some Python among others), let alone a background in finance. My technical skills as well had plenty to be desired.

Do you have interests outside of work that help you in your role?

Work life balance is important! My hobbies aren’t technical, but they are priorities to me. At the moment, I’m doing plenty of running and playing lots of poker 😊.

What do you do in your role?

I am a developer in our Statistical and Index Arbitrage team. This team works on our position taking strategies that use macro-economic trends to predict price moves. This is different to the standard Optiver trading loop where the focus is on making good decisions, as quickly as possible. Building a system like this requires a close collaboration of dev, research and trading know how, so I get to learn lots about these areas in my work with these tribes.

What are some of the projects you are working on (non-confidential)?

We wear lots of different hats here, I do a fair amount of work in our production environment to deploy new products and improve existing ones for my team. I’m also doing some projects in our backtest/research pipeline. This is the environment our researchers and traders use to test and iterate on strategies. These two areas touch a wide variety of technical domains and almost every aspect of these domains was foreign to me before joining as a graduate.

What are some of the key skills required for your role?

I think the soft skills are key. Optiver is a highly collaborative environment so things like communication and project management are at the forefront. And as well, this is an environment where you will encounter things you don’t understand every day. Having the mindset to ask for help and continue learning and tackling these challenges is important. The technical skills come with time and are important as well, and they help you deliver quality projects in a timely manner.

What’s your favourite part of the job?

One of the best parts I’d say is the release of a big project. We are often responsible for the full development cycle of a project from planning, designing, testing, to deploying. Achieving all of that is always a satisfying feeling, and the culture here is pretty big on recognising and appreciating achievements when they happen. I also like being able to look back on my previous projects, I find it encouraging to see my growth and increased capabilities from the last years of effort put in.

How were you supported to learn during your graduate program?

The learning environment here has been a highlight of my experience. Starting out I got to benefit from the education team who took me through my introduction courses to both options trading and C++. We learned through lectures as well as through hands on means, such as doing trading games against each other and competing in an auto trader building competition. When I was placed into my dev team, I received lots of direct mentorship and was given projects that built in complexity over time as I became capable of more. There is no lacking in mentorship and learning support, and that certainly doesn’t go away as you move into your second year and beyond.

If you had one piece of advice for those that are looking to apply, what would it be?

Give it a go for sure. I think the application process goes both ways, and it’s a good opportunity to talk to employees here and figure out if Optiver is the right place for you. I’d recommend you ask lots of questions, and don’t worry if you feel like you don’t know everything up front: I didn’t and still do not!