“I interned at Google, Meta & Citadel Securities. I chose Citadel”
Teodora Argintaru wasn't short of options when she graduated in computer science from University Politechnica of Bucharest in Romania last year. After achieving 100% in her university qualifying exams, she completed internships at Google, Meta and Citadel Securities while she studied. And when she graduated, she chose to work for the electronic market maker, and not for the top tech firms.
With Google and Meta now laying people off and Citadel Securities seemingly not, Argintaru appears to have made a fortuitous choice. Her selection was partly pragmatic – Citadel Securities offered to sponsor a visa, but it was also informed by her internships. She says the work she did as an intern at Citadel Securities was more interesting than the work she did interning in big tech.
“The work you do at Citadel Securities is meaningful,” says Argintaru. “You take on a lot of responsibility, even early in the internship, and the work you do has a real impact on the business. It’s not just a project that’s been created for the internship.”
Her own project involved writing code to sends orders to a European exchange as the firm transitioned from one IT architecture to another. That code is now in production. "My internship project contributed to increasing the profitability of one of our trading approaches," Argintaru says.
Internships at tech giants can have a more limited focus. “In a larger, more traditional tech company, you may not get to see how you fit into the bigger picture or be aware of the other product areas and projects that exist,” says Argintaru.
Citadel Securities isn’t a pure technology firm, but technology is a big part of what it does. As an electronic market making firm, it uses trading systems to automatically match buyers and sellers - often at high speeds, and needs swathes of technology staff to build and maintain its platform. “We’re solving complex problems at scale to achieve high performance and reliability, so the work is very interesting,” says Argintaru.
Universities in Eastern Europe are a popular repository of talent for finance firms in search C++ developers. Argintaru learned to code in C++ during her degree and now uses it daily. “Though you’re not expected to be an expert in different coding languages on your first day, I’ve found it helpful to have a good command of C++ since it’s used for a variety of systems,” she says.
She joined Citadel Securities full time in February 2023 and embarked on the firm's early careers training program (which includes intermediate and advanced training in Python and C++). Based in the London office, Argintaru says she typically starts work at around 8am or 8.30am and ends at around 6pm. "Before I started, everyone told me that work-life balance is what you make it," she says. "I have time to pursue my hobbies before or after work, and I often go to the gym or out with friends in the evening."
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