After an intensive summer boot camp, Tandon’s FRE students are ready to tackle the semester head-on

lecture hall full of students paying attention

Master’s students arrive at NYU Tandon’s Department of Finance and Risk Engineering (FRE) with a wide variety of undergraduate backgrounds, but they all have one thing in common: a determination to excel in one of the world’s most competitive industries. 

It’s fitting, therefore, that they’ve chosen to attend one of the highest-ranked and most-competitive quant programs in the world — one that will require them to be on top of their game and ready to work at a high level. In order to prepare members of its new cohort, FRE offers an annual Pre-Program Boot Camp, and as the name implies, its mission is to make sure “recruits” start the official semester with a solid intellectual foundation in such areas as basic finance, linear algebra, probability and statistics, advanced calculus, and computer programming and to introduce them to topics like capital markets and risk management.

The two-week in-person summer boot camp, which kicked off this year in mid-August, tackles those topics with an emphasis on solving problems that are typically asked in quant interviews, since the top financial firms recruit in October for quantitative internships beginning in June of the following year, and the interview process begins soon after the start of the Fall semester.   

“In these interviews, candidates' skills are often assessed with quizzes and brain teasers, the aim of which is to assess both technical knowledge but also the ability to think outside (and inside) the box. Some problems have more than one solution, and it is essential to practice. With this one-of-a-kind course we try to provide students with the training they need,” boot camp instructor Pasquale Cirillo explains. “So the purpose of our module ‘From Brain Teasers to Black-Scholes,’ for example, is twofold. On the one hand, through exercises and problems, we review some important mathematical, statistical and probabilistic concepts, which the students will need in their studies at NYU FRE. On the other hand, we help students prepare for their job interviews.” 

The types of questions faced by aspiring interns can be broad, and few people (if anyone) have mastered it all, but attending the boot camp is the fastest way for students to become familiar with the landscape of topics important to the modern financial services industry.

Another instructor, Conall O'Sullivan, describes the challenges and benefits of another module: “The Econometrics & Machine Learning with Python component of the boot camp is designed to get students up to speed with Python in a short space of time (or as a refresher for those experienced with Python),” he says. “We do a whistle stop tour of some of the main models used in Econometrics, Time Series and Machine Learning using Python throughout. Students will not be experts when they finish the boot camp but will hopefully have the confidence to talk about these topics in a knowledgeable and assured manner in their internship interviews along with being able to answer technical interview questions on Python. We also hope to foster student enthusiasm and interest to further develop these skills in full semester courses that follow the boot camp and in projects that they undertake during their master’s program.”

Members of the 2023 cohort — the majority of them women for the first time in department history — hail from around the world, including China, India, United Arab Emirates, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Azerbaijan, and the United States, and they’re already proving that they have what it takes to take the world of finance by storm!