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The most fun part of my projects have been the back-end algorithms work. I have worked on projects where I implemented Gaussian Mixture models, a Remez algorithm and a few Monte Carlo schemes. I loved figuring out how these processes worked and tuning them when they didn't.

I recently graduated and my problem lies in the work I was able to find. The only jobs I have found, with my Electrical Engineering degree, are for writing user applications. Tasks such as fashioning web interfaces or front-ends for hardware devices.

When I speak with potential employers about my interests they say they have no work of the sort. Where does one find work that involves implementing these kind of schemes?

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Maybe game development, or somewhere else where efficiency can matter. –  George Duckett Mar 21 '12 at 8:59
    
Most of the bread and butter work in this business is making simple stuff usable for normal people. –  user1249 Mar 21 '12 at 9:02
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Operating systems, compilers, embedded development, some parts of game development, CAD/CAE, AI, database engines - there's a lot of heavily algorithmic stuff out there. Probably you're looking for the wrong kind of jobs? –  SK-logic Mar 21 '12 at 9:18
    
The trouble for me is that even companies that I think will be doing algorithm work such a few financial companies don't want me for that. Is it something that you work your way up to? –  Mikhail Mar 21 '12 at 9:41
    
@Misha, have you tried applying for, say, CAD-related jobs? Finance is a too broad area, getting into a place like Jane Street Capital is not that easy. –  SK-logic Mar 21 '12 at 10:17
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2 Answers

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The problem with algorithms is that for a single algorithm implementation you have a huge array of work around that, which does not involve any significant algorithms. In other words, this work is rather rare.

Personally, I have never seen an open job position for an algorithm developer/engineer outside of academia. On the other hand, I see employers interested in people with algorithmic backgrounds everywhere.

One additional problem, which I encountered in projects, is that management and sometimes even the SW engineers have such a lack of algorithmic background knowledege that they do not even realize when a proper algorithm is needed. Often I see "algorithm" being used synonymously to "piece of code". Once you are in a moderately complex project though, you can bring in your knowledge on algorithms to score such a job simply by driving your current job towards that area.

There's also the option to work for a company, which essentially lends its employed software engineers to third companies. This is especially nice for for recent graduates for multiple reasons:

  • payment is usually quite attractive
  • your company will try to score jobs for you according to your profile. So if you emphasize the algorithmic part in your profile, you will be more likely selected for job openings in that area
  • it gives you the opportunity to work for various different companies in a relatively short time. Again, this helps you in more thoroughly identifying which sort of company you want to remain with (if not the original one even, because you simply like the change itself).
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"Gaussian Mixture models, a Remez algorithm and a few Monte Carlo schemes" sounds like a thing a quantitative analyst could do. You might need to improve your knowledge of market instruments first, but that might even be not required. So if you don't have problem with working in investment banking industry, that's probably something you might consider.

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