Get Whatcha Need

“If you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.”
– The Rolling Stones

I think maybe Mick Jagger needs to talk to some of today’s graduates and hiring managers. It seems that some aren’t sure what they want — and consequently don’t get what they need.

The current skills gap quandary is not a myth, but rather an expensive problem. And it seems that it is “degree agnostic.”

Consider These Are The Skills Bosses Say New College Grads Do Not Have, which cited research by PayScale covering over 63,000 managers and 14,000 graduates. The study showed that new graduates lacked hard skills, such as writing proficiency, public speaking and data analysis, as well as soft skills, like critical thinking and problem solving.

When it came to business school graduates, The Bloomberg Job Skills Report 2016: What Recruiters Want found the skills hardest to find were strategic thinking, creative problem solving, leadership skills and adaptability. Skills essential to contributing to the bottom line.

Even computer science graduates have challenges relative to other STEM degrees. Computer Science Grads Still Finding it Hard to Get a Job notes the gap in soft skills, but also points out, “There is not enough information available on what it is employers think they want.” In this sense, it’s difficult for graduates to hit a target that’s not well defined.

The simple answer is better communication and collaboration between industry and universities — but what does this look like? Efforts such as corporate relations, industry campuses and corporate sponsorships attempt to fill the bill.

At Trading Technologies, we founded the TT CampusConnect™ program to collaborate with universities and educate the next generation of capital markets professionals by donating our software, offering curriculum assistance, and connecting educators and students with potential employers. We currently partner with more than 75 universities in 12 countries, helping them prepare students for careers in our industry by providing exposure to our market-leading software along with real-world experiences. We’re always open to new ideas and looking for ways to collaborate with our university partners to bridge the classroom to the trading room.

One way we’re doing this is through our Algo Showcase, an event that gives students the opportunity to present their knowledge of commodity markets and trading to Chicago proprietary trading firms. It draws students from the Chicagoland area and beyond.

In the months leading up to the event, teams create trading algorithms using the TT® futures trading platform. The students use our ADL® visual programming platform to design algorithms, then launch them in a simulated environment driven by live market prices. The algos enter buy and sell orders while managing risk due to market volatility, economic news and open positions.

These exercises demand the students understand market dynamics and recognize the factors that drive commodity prices. Students drive their strategies using the same TT software used by proprietary trading firms. Using the TT platform in a simulated but real market, students can demonstrate to these potential employers that they have the coveted skills necessary for success.

After completing the trading exercises, we host the students and prop firm representatives at our main office in Chicago. The teams present their strategies, show how they deployed them and how they performed. Since there are multiple trading exercises, students have had the opportunity to tweak their algos as they progressed from one exercise, and at the event, they explain what they learned along the way. The trading shops have the opportunity to assess the students’ strategies, ask questions and critique their work, then they judge the teams based upon their risk-adjusted returns, algo design and presentation. The event concludes with networking at our Tech Tap.

At the end of the day, the Algo Showcase provides firms with an opportunity to evaluate candidates that goes beyond a typical resume and interview. Firm representatives can assess a student’s hard skills, like market expertise and technology proficiency, as well as soft skills, like oral communications and teamwork.

As for the students, the Algo Showcase provides them with a better understanding of Chicago’s capital markets industry and the chance to establish industry connections that may lead to an internship or a full-time job.

This year’s event will be held on January 13 with teams from Illinois Tech, Indiana University, Johns Hopkins University, Case Western Reserve University and the University of Wisconsin. We are looking forward to hearing from the students.

For more information on how you can bring TT software to your campus at no cost, visit the TT CampusConnect website.

Posted by Leo Murphy, TT CampusConnect Program Manager