How to get a job at Jane Street
If you think that internships and entry-level jobs in investment banks are generously paid, you might want to check your benchmark. Electronic trading giant, Jane Street Capital, recently revealed it earned $7bn in just the first nine months of 2023, and a lot of that cash is being pocketed by its very, very well paid employees.
Exactly how much Jane Street pays its entry level hires isn't clear, and the firm isn't commenting, but its numbers are the stuff of legend. Data from Levels.fyi suggests that entry-level engineering hires at Jane street are the highest paid in the world, earning $325k on average. Graduate level quant researchers there are thought to earn a $200k base salary, a $100k sign-on bonus and a $100-150k performance bonus to boot. There are also unconfirmed reports that Jane Street interns made $64k last year in just 11 weeks. 😱
Jane Street is growing fast, but that won't make it any easier to get a job there. While it listed just 845 global employees on LinkedIn at the start of the decade, the number has more than doubled to 2,073 today. In the UK, for example, Jane Street had 483 employees in 2022 (the most recent year for which figures are available), and paid them an average of $755k per head (£584.5k). 234 of those people were traders, up from just 69 front office staff in 2019. Standards are very high, however; you'll need some solid previous internships or something like an impressive Math Olympiad record to catch its eye... and of course be attending one of its target universities.
Like quant trading hedge fund, Renaissance Technologies, Jane Street likes to hire people with an interest in finance and economics, although what you will really need to do is to know how to code. The firm famously codes almost entirely in OCAML, a functional programming language which it uses for building its own Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) and which you can observe in action in the firm's open source libraries here. Traders, engineers and researchers at Jane Street all work in OCAML. However, the firm is clear that although you'll need to be a proficient coder you won't need to know how to use the language before an interview and that nor will you need any experience in other functional coding languages to get the job.
You will need expertise in your language of choice and - if you want the highest paying front office jobs at Jane Street, an ability to solve some fiendishly difficult brainteasers (through coding if necessary). Jane Street is well known for posing increasingly challenging brainteaser-type questions to its quantitative trading candidates at interview. When he interviewed at Jane Street in 2014, Sam Bankman Fried, for example, was asked things like "What are the odds that you have a relative who is a professional baseball player" and given a hand of poker chips and told that people who lost them all in a subsequent poker games were never employed.
Jane Street's recruitment process may have changed in the decade since SBF got a job there. Helpfully, the firm provides regular examples and challenges showcasing its interview questions on its own website, several examples of which we've listed below.
If you can solve these challenges, you're potential Jane Street material. However, given that up to 200 people typically submit the correct answers to each question on Jane Street's site, even answering these correctly will not be a shoo-in... Good luck.
1. A random line segment of length D is chosen on a plane marked with an infinite checkerboard grid (i.e., a unit side length square grid). What length D maximizes the probability that the segment crosses exactly one line on the checkerboard grid, and what is this maximal probability?
2. Call a “ring” of circles a collection of six circles of equal radius, say r, whose centers lie on the six vertices of a regular hexagon with side length 2r. This makes each circle tangent to its two neighbors, and we can call the center of the regular hexagon the “center” of the ring of circles. If we are given a circle C, what is the maximum proportion of the area of that circle we can cover with rings of circles entirely contained within C that all are mutually disjoint and share the same center?
When submitting an answer, you can either send in a closed-form solution, or your answer out to 6 decimal places.
3. Two friends, Alter and Nate, have a conversation:
Alter: Nate, let’s play a game. I’ll pick an integer between 1 and 10 (inclusive), then you’ll pick an integer between 1 and 10 (inclusive), and then I’ll go again, then you’ll go again, and so on and so forth. We’ll keep adding our numbers together to make a running total. And whoever makes the running total be greater than or equal to 100 loses. You go first.
Nate: That’s not fair! Whenever I pick a number X, you’ll just pick 11-X, and then I’ll always get stuck with 99 and I’ll make the total go greater than 100.
Alter: Ok fine. New rule then, no one can pick a number that would make the sum of that number and the previous number equal to 11. You still go first. Now can we play?
Nate: Um… sure.
Who wins, and what is their strategy?
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