How to Become a Trader on Bay Street Part II

This is a guest post on trading from Tusk Trader (check out the newly launched site:, an experienced Bay Street trader who will be writing here until Tusk’s own blog is set up. Tusk had a front row seat to the twists, turns, and almost collapse of our capital market systems a few years ago and provides a unique perspective you won’t find anywhere else. For most people, financial literacy is the elephant in the room. Let Tusk Trader help change that. If you are on twitter, make sure to follow Tusk at @TuskTrader

For Part I, click here.

The second most asked question I get is, “What can I do to get hired as a trader after I graduate?”

The answer starts well before you graduate. While you are still in school, try to get the best summer job you can. It is not easy, but most people have 3 summers between school and graduation to try to achieve that. There is no reason to not aim high right from the beginning. The most ideal option for a wannabe trader is to get a summer position on or near a trading floor in a capital markets centre (Calgary, Toronto etc.).  The type of summer job that larger firms often hire for are positions in the back office. Back office jobs (like the clearing department) will offer you contact with a number of trading departments within a large firm. This will give you some great experience in the functionality of the capital markets as well as a basic understanding of what each individual department does.

The goal of your summer job at a capital markets firm is to gain capital markets experience and to meet as many people in the capital markets as you can. The closer you can get to the people who do the hiring on trading floors, the better. Most great summer jobs start their hiring process around November the fall before. If those coveted spots go to others, reach out to people in your own network who might know a guy or gal in the capital markets and try to get a summer job that relates to the capital markets in some way. The guiding idea is that you want to be in a position to be able to have a face-to-face conversation with your ideal future boss at some point in the summer. It is okay if you are handing him or her a memo from the department you actually work in. You want to be able to say “Hi, my name is X. I would really like to work for you when I graduate from Y school next year.” Make sure to have something ready to say incase you get lucky and they engage you in a conversation about yourself and why you want to work for him or her. The best skill you can teach yourself is how to have a conversation with someone you do not know and leave a good impression. You need to be humble and sell yourself at the same time. This is a delicate balance.

There are also a lot of people who end up in great trading jobs after graduation because they had summer jobs that leap off of a resume to the attention of a hiring manager. The type of summer employment that just stands out on it’s own, not because it put them in contact with their future boss. Jobs like working at the UN, interning for someone in a high political office or something else that demonstrates some form of over achieving.

A junior on a trading floor often spends much of his or her day working with or very near their boss. This has a large impact when their boss is recruiting, as he or she is on the hunt for a level headed, over achiever they think they will enjoy spending a lot of time with. A junior on the trading floor is often in the seat right next to their boss all day, every day.

Trading is tough industry to break into these days but I think it is well worth the effort. My overall advice to young people is actually quite simple. Go to the best school you can, take what you love, get really good marks and meet as many people in the capital markets as you can. The pathways people take to wonderful, fulfilling careers are rarely straight. The best way to have great opportunities come your way is to work in an area you have a passion for and to do well.

Thanks Tusk. Make sure to check out the site: or follow Tusk Trader on twitter: @tusktrader

Preet Banerjee
Preet Banerjee an independent consultant to the financial services industry and a personal finance commentator. You can learn more about Preet at his personal website and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.
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Showing 6 comments
  • Ross Taylor

    Thanks for this series Tusk. My seventeen year old is already a budding stock trader, and has enjoyed the articles very much.

    • Tusk Trader

       @Ross Taylor Wonderful! glad to hear that. 

  • FinEng88

    Hi Tusk,
    I did a double major in math and economics to eventually get into teacher’s college. At the end of my bachelor, I realized I had more potential and looked into the financial sector for inspiration. After completing a master’s degree in Economics (concentration in financial economics), I find myself at Schulich Business School in Financial Engineering. Since this change of career path was unexpected, I did not acquire the summer job experience as mentioned above. Do you have any tips on landing a job upon graduating beside going to the career centre at my school?

    • Tusk Trader

      From your post I am going to assume you have no work experience in the capital markets yet. Based on that, I would try to get into the Capital Market rotation programs offered by the big banks. The irony is that the best place to get into the pool of candidates for that is through your Business School. I personally feel that you pay for the recruitment opportunities as much as the education at most B-schools. If you are graduating next year, you should get on that ASAP. The process has already begun to get into those rotations. You basically get 3 or 4 months experience in a variety of jobs within the Capital Markets. Tell them you want your focus to be trading but I suspect that with your background they will direct you towards Risk. Risk is a booming area. With your economics background you might shine on a currency trading desk. Investigate that career path and push that in your recruitment meetings to try to get something in trading. Those positions are no guarantee of a job at the end, you still have to prove yourself, but you will meet all the right people in a short amount of time and get to test drive a few pathways. The pay is also reasonable (if you get in at the associate level, not the analyst level, which is possible with your 2 masters degrees). I hope that helps.

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