Want a Career in Financial Technology? Ask A Wall Street Exec

@DadOfJerseyGirl works in finance and technology at a Wall Street firm. His current role is at an executive level leading the technology teams at an investment management firm. Academically, he has a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Computer Science and a 2nd Master’s in Finance.

He spends a good amount of his spare time mentoring students and volunteering with youth organizations in NYC to provide career counseling and college admissions guidance to underprivileged youth. This is also why he is frequently on College Confidential helping answer questions.

@DadOfJerseyGirl is happy to draw on his knowledge and experience to help students so make sure to ask him your questions below.

Are you a professional willing to share your journey and offer career guidance to our community?

Send me a private message and let me know! We are looking to host a series of forum AMAs with verified hosts in February aimed at helping students pick a major and plan their careers.


Thanks for spending time with the forum. We are from Viet Nam and my son will enroll a business school (Kelley School of Business/ Gies College of Business/ Fisher in the fall 2023)

I have three questions:

  1. How the employer like yours view majors in the business school for the work relating to financial engineering or computational finance? If a person pursuit data science, business analytics, or even quantitative economics, can he still have an edge in the field.

  2. If you ever experience any international students in the field, let us know few weakness during the works.

  3. Any recommendations for choosing business schools (few points to explore further)

Thank you and have a nice weekend.


My pleasure. Congratulations on the acceptances.

Those are all useful majors, depending on which area of business he wants to work in. Financial firms hire across all these majors and more.

Data science in particular has grown tremendously over the last decade and is used in everything from investments research to client engagement. Your son should pick the major he’s interested in, and gain as much knowledge and experiences as he can. That’s the best way to get ahead and excel.

Yes we do hire a few international students every year, but I’m sorry I’m not entirely clear what you’re asking regarding weaknesses.
There is a higher bar for international students, because of the cost and legal +HR effort involved in visa sponsorship. So that’s something to keep in mind. As such, I advise international students to not rely on finding a sponsoring employer and should plan to return home upon graduation.

Unfortunately, that’s not my area of expertise. You will need to research each school to get a feel for campus life, understand what courses are offered, what research opportunities exist (if that’s of interest), etc. And don’t forget to factor in the cost! It’s never worth over extending yourself financially.

Good luck to your son!


@DadOfJerseyGirl, I have 2 questions:

  1. Did you always know you wanted a career in financial technology? If not, when or how did you realize this was your path?
  2. How important was your major for your eventual career path?

Thanks for taking the time to do this!

Great questions @CC_Sorin.

  1. Ha ha! No, not at all. In fact, I had no idea such a career existed. I started off working at a telecommunications firm. A couple of years later, my friends and I created a startup but unfortunately that didn’t last too long and I needed a job. A recruiter came across my resume and got in touch. He had me go meet with a team at a large investment bank. I was skeptical - I had no idea what I would do there - but I met with them and was very impressed with how they were using technology to run their business. Lots of really smart techies and plenty of cutting edge work was being done. I was hooked, and honestly it’s been a fun ride. There’s always something new happening all the time. Everyone wants to get an edge over the competition, by being faster, better, more efficient, lower cost, etc. And technology is how all that happens.

  2. My CS degree was instrumental to me getting the fintech job, and served me well in my early years when I was doing a lot of hands-on, innovative work. As a CS major you learn a lot of things beyond just programming, and that’s critical if you want to solve hard problems and do something totally new, versus just coding a solution to a well-defined problem. I had done my MS in CS because that was something several of my friends had done, and many firms back then gave you a higher starting salary. But things have changed, and to be totally honest, an MS in CS probably isn’t all that helpful these days in most fields.


Why wouldn’t a MS in CS help in any field, if someone has a non-CS degree (say Social Science or Humanities) and switch into a more technological field for future career?

Yes, if you’re switching from something else into computer science, an MS in CS may help open more doors. What I meant was, if you have a bachelors in CS, then doing a masters on top of that won’t add much additional value in most cases.


Thanks for doing this!

For the masters in CS, does one have to have coding experience? I have known some people who just don’t ‘get’ coding, yet have good quant skills…is there any path for them in financial tech, or would their paths be in other areas of finance/other industries?

I also work with some underserved HS students in college admissions, and have found many of them to be graduating HS without pre-calc…especially now after the covid years. How do you advise them regarding math going forward? I have found some to be ‘scared’ of taking more math, including CS, for many reasons. Any insights appreciated!

Do you have any experience with good programs to get an MS in CS when coming from a non-STEM bachelors? Would programs with a “bridge” component be good? Or is it okay to take any required math pre-reqs at a community college first?

My pleasure. Sorry for the delayed response. Busy day yesterday.

Yes. Coding will definitely be required for many classes, and the assumption is that students already have coding experience in one or more programming languages. Some MS programs offer “bridge” classes where students can learn programming in their first two semesters, but IMO it’s not a good use of $$.

If someone wants to work in technology, but not as a software developer/engineer (example: business analysis or project management), they don’t need a master’s in CS.

Up to, maybe 15 years ago, there used to be “pure quants” - typically those with PhDs in math or physics, who were math geniuses but had no coding ability. They would come up with the mathematical models and software engineers would implement them. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case at present. Pretty much all quants these days have coding skills - in Python and/or R, and can implement the models they develop.

I suppose those with strong math skills but no coding may be able to do actuarial analysis for insurance companies, or analytics for sports teams, but I don’t have personal knowledge of those areas.

CS programs, especially the top ranked ones, tend to have a significant math component. Aside from calculus, they would typically need to take linear algebra, discrete math, combinatorics, and other advanced math in college.

If a student is interested in a programming job but doesn’t have strong math skills / doesn’t want to do advanced math, I would advise them to not major in CS. There are plenty of well paying programming jobs available that don’t require a CS degree.

Hope that helps.


I know some schools (Stevens Institute of Technology comes to mind), offer bridge or “pathway” programs for students without a coding background. I don’t know specifically about non-STEM backgrounds though.


I think that should be fine. But best to check the admissions requirement of each school.

There’re programs that accept students from any background, but they are probably not what you would call “good programs”. A “good program” will likely require math, but not necessarily programming skills (which can be more easily learned than math). That’s why students who enroll in CS MS programs tend to be math or physics majors (if they aren’t CS majors).


How does a student without a CS or Business degree get a job in Financial Technology? Maybe the student is interested in a more analytical role that doesn’t require coding.

Thank you!


You can get a quant role as a math major. But it does require at least some level of coding skill as I noted above.

There are analytical roles available outside of technology that don’t require coding.

What do you think about majors in stem econ with minor in cs or econ data science, if not cs? If fintech doesn’t pan out, how flexible would these degrees be in related financial fields, consulting, and others?

I have read that some firms like to hire if qualified college varsity athletes. How true is this?

Do you expect potential candidates to have internships starting summer after freshmen year? Do most firms offer positions from their pools of internships kids before graduation?

Thanks for doing this!

@DadOfJerseyGirl, can you talk a bit about having a fintech job? Is the schedule flexible, does it allow remote working, how would you assess the life-work balance, what’s the stress level?

Also, not sure if you are comfortable covering this, but do you have a salary estimate for a job in this field?

NYC & NYS now require employers to post pay ranges when advertising open positions.

At many of these companies, base pay is only part of the total compensation.

Here’s some info for summer internships:

For fresh grads, total comp is about double that of interns.