Is learning Slang a good career move?

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It's rather predictable (and fairly well-known) that Goldman Sachs uses its own in-house programming language, Slang, to gain an edge through its electronic trading processes.

Currently, it's facing a headache as the bank looks to spin off its prop trading desk in that the new venture will no longer have the rights to use Slang, according to a report on CNBC.

Consequently, it's "scrambling to hire computer programmers and project managers" in an apparently cloak and dagger recruitment spree to "translate its trading programs into a more standard computer code usable by the new spin-off trading company".

But this all this begs the question as to whether joining Goldman, and immersing yourself in a computer language which is not industry standard, is a very good career move for a technologist. Particularly if you harbour ambitions to eventually leave the hallowed halls of the US bank.

Yes, according to one headhunter who has recruited for the bank in the past. They claim that all the top jobs internally go to people who have mastered Slang because "they are the best techies" and that should they choose to leave "their business knowledge and object-oriented programming ability are so strong that they will be snapped up."

Others are not quite as glowing in their assessment of long-term career prospects.

Dominic Connor, headhunter at P&D Quantitative Recruitment, says: "Technologists benefit from having the Goldman brand name on their CV, and are paid very well, but can also end up with skills that won't be particularly beneficial if they want to move to another bank, which is why so many stay put."

Still, while other firms don't might not have their own programming language, this doesn't mean that it's easy to gravitate between investment banks with generic development skills in languages like C++, C# or Java.

"Getting to grips with the nuances and syntax of a particular banks' system is part and parcel of joining a new firm. Re-acquainting yourself with mainstream development having spent time with a proprietary language shouldn't be an insurmountable challenge; regardless of systems environment there's always a period of adjustment when starting a new role," says Paul Bennie, director of IT in finance headhunters Bennie MacLean

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