How to get the attention of a top quant hedge fund when you haven't worked in finance

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Man AHL Hackathon

Quant investment management firm Man AHL is trying something new. In the past, it ran an annual Python coding competition to identify the best young coders aged between 16 and 25. Now, it's running a Hackathon. And anyone can apply to attend.

"It’s open to anyone over the age of 18, whether they’re professionals, students or academics," says Gary Collier, Man AHL's chief technology officer. "Age is an irrelevance - we’d be as happy to have an application from someone who’s 21 as someone who’s 67. All that matters is an ability to code and a passion for technology," he adds.

The hackathon will take place at AHL's London office during the weekend of 21-22 April 2018. Interested parties have until 12pm GMT on 20 March to apply. There are up to 100 places for external applicants (and another 30 Man employees will attend too) and the event is likely to be over-subscribed. Successful applicants will already have a focus on Python and data analysis, says Collier: "When we’re screening hackathon applicants, we’ll be looking for evidence of passion for Python and some prior experience of contributing to the open source data science ecosystem.”

Man AHL is a champion of open source libraries, having released its own Arctic high performance data store to Github in 2015. The 24-hour hackathon will be spent working on open source data analysis libraries which AHL uses regularly. These include Arctic, numpy and Pandas. Collier says the investment firm is particularly keen for coders who contribute to these libraries to attend. "It’s intended to be an intense and fun period of work. People will work through the night and we will provide them with food and drink," he says.

What will coders get in return? Not a job, exactly, but "exposure" and maybe even a sense of fulfillment. "We won’t be offering jobs as a direct result of the hackathon, but we are expecting a lot of good people to participate and are always interested in seeing good applicants,” says Collier. "Ultimately we’re hoping that people will have a fun and collaborative weekend and come away with a sense of satisfaction from doing something that’s generally helpful to the community – the huge amount of time that people put into this often goes unnoticed."

Man AHL was named quant hedge fund of the year by Risk Magazine in December 2017. The investment firm has around $24bn in assets under management and has long been a pioneer in the use of quantitative techniques for systematic trading. Nowadays, it's a pioneer in the use of machine learning and is already applying machine learning techniques to its multi-strategy funds.

If you're a highly competent Python coder who wants to get in front of one of the top quant firms in the industry, despite not working in finance, this could therefore be your chance.

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