A day in the life of an Intern
I am an intern in the FPGA Dev team at iRage. Before discussing my day-to-day activities, let me give you some background on my internship. My day-to-day work involves working on the FPGA designs being used at iRage, to make optimizations in our trading decisions at the nanosecond level. Prior to starting my internship, my manager/mentor discussed with me potential project options. I chose a project which I deemed to be a good mix of challenging and independent, so that I would not need to have a long on-boarding period. I was given a general overview of the FPGA design currently used, and a brief overview of the project I will be working on, and I was good to start working in a couple of days.
Once I was in the middle of the project, my days started looking pretty busy and productive.
Every morning, I would grab a cup of coffee on my way into the office from the free coffee machine in our common area, and sometimes, the kitchen staff would offer to make me one too. Since I was working on an orderbook design, something that requires inputs from the Software team as well as my own FPGA team, I found it pretty convenient to just get up from my desk, walk up to a fellow Software or Infrastructure team member, and have my issues resolved fairly quickly. Luckily, I was seated near a host of other co-interns, so it was always great to take a break from work and chat about random things for a bit before getting back to work. I always looked forward to lunch-time, because that meant getting lunch with the other co-interns, hearing about their college life and sharing mine. Since I have no formal training in finance, it was great to hear from the other interns about their projects, and how they are maximizing profits, and I would excitedly tell them about my domain, i.e. digital logic design! Back to our desks, the next milestone to look forward to was 3.30 PM when the markets close and everyone gets a fruit snack to celebrate the occasion. A foosball game often followed, since a lot of company members take a break at the end of the trading day. Finally, as evening rolls around, it is time from one of several things - sometimes a game of cricket with the coworkers, sometimes it would be games of the company foosball tournament, sometime it would be an intense round of poker, or all else failing, dinner with the co-workers to cap off the day.
The times in between the downtime were all filled with periods of intense focus and productivity - and often a lot of collaboration across teams - something that has taught me how to work in an environment as fast paced and competitive as high frequency trading. These soft skills learned are a great bonus to the technical skills picked up. My favorite part about working with the company definitely has to be the close-knit community-like feeling of the office owing to the relatively small office size, which made it possible to approach anyone regardless of their team and chat with them about their work.