From a maths graduate to a full stack developer

Who am I?

I joined Adaptive in September 2019 as a software developer after graduating with a degree in Mathematics from Imperial College London. It wasn’t an easy decision as I was also thinking about doing a Masters degree in Finance, the route that most of my classmates took. Retrospectively, it was the right decision as I have spent the last 12 months gaining both theoretical and hands-on experience with finance and technology that I could not have learnt at school.

During my time at Adaptive, I had opportunities to work on both front-end and back-end projects for 6 months, and am now about to start on a new client project with greater responsibilities.

How did I get in?

I applied through LinkedIn (much better than doing lengthy online application!) after meeting our Chief Talent Officer Marie at our university careers fair.

After a 4 hour grilling on technical knowledge and skills (don’t freak out, interviewers were super supportive and brilliant at making you feel comfortable and relaxed) and one other interview, I got my offer!

What is Graduate Training like?

I started my training alongside other graduates in Barcelona, Montreal and New York. At the start, I had very limited coding experience, but as the training exercises got bigger, I became increasingly comfortable with writing code. I was able to use JavaScript and HTML to build an Apple stopwatch app in the same timeframe as others who had more relevant background.

After another month of extensive training, we completed a full stock trading app, which is one of my career highlights so far. It’s also worth mentioning that, without the support from my manager Bhavesh Desai and the other grads who had more coding experience, I wouldn’t have survived this challenging yet rewarding graduate programme. A supported group is always provided at Adaptive.

The graduate scheme is not just about coding. We had talks from the head of each practice to get to know about other areas in the business. I also ran a book club for people to share their knowledge on finance, which was really useful for people like us who build applications used by large financial institutions. The regular presentation practices then helped us become an all-round consultant.

Life at Adaptive

Adaptive really goes the extra mile to create an inclusive and supportive environment. Everyone is willing to help out and activities like the monthly bake-off, poker and film night, certainly make us a very close-knit family.

After almost 12 months on the scheme, there is one thing that I really want to highlight, which is that I have learned how to learn. I have learned to be unfazed by challenges and to break down problems when they get too complex. Also, teaching is the best way to learn. The company has always encouraged us to share our learnings in brown-bag presentations.

Some photos from our graduate programme:

Writing coding together.

Our coding exercise during training.

After work drinks.

The projects

Frontend Developer - Reactive Trader®

Reactive Trader is an internal project, and it’s the first one that I worked on. I had to study new concepts in a short amount of time and work with a large and complex codebase. Fortunately, the training that I had prepared me well for such a challenge. Throughout the project, I learned to avoid ‘regression issues’ by testing my ‘stories’ before submitting them. And not being afraid to ask around for help when I got stuck, was also key to success.

Backend Developer - Hydra Exchange Project

In the backend division, I worked on a real crypto exchange system where I had first-hand experience learning how finance works. My mathematics background gave me an upper hand in understanding the risk model and linking our system to the database that clients provided.

I was on a very steep learning curve, going from having zero experience in Java to being competent in it. Due to the project being client-facing, I gained strong client management skills. I was also constantly under pressure to deliver high-quality work on time. We had to be very careful with the new feature design; a small mistake can break the whole system which was already in production. Harsha, my project manager, was very supportive and the project management techniques he taught me will be hugely beneficial for the rest of my career.

What’s next?

With the great support at Adaptive, I am working towards becoming a full-stack engineer. I am also looking to develop my business and soft skills, which can be gained through close interactions with clients and early responsibilities on projects at Adaptive. Trading platforms are complicated and fast-developing where I need continuous learning and practising. I am looking forward to being constantly pushed to the limit and achieving my career aspirations.

Hope you enjoyed reading my blog. If you want more information, please add me on LinkedIn or speak to the talent team at Adaptive.

Related blog posts: Adaptive Graduate Programme 2020/2021


Yuhe (Cindy) Zhou

Java Developer, Adaptive Financial Consulting


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