From an internship in renewable energy engineering to working on a trading floor, Liam’s curiosity and drive brought him to IMC. We sat down with him to hear about his work as a Graduate Trader in our Sydney office.
My name is Liam O’Donnell and I am a Graduate Trader at IMC. I studied a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) and Bachelor of Commerce (Finance). I graduated from the University of Queensland in 2017. However, I didn’t start out at university with a fintech company in mind.
Born and bred in Queensland, I went straight from high school to the University of Queensland and started engineering. I decided to add a commerce degree after a year of studying engineering. I worked a couple of different engineering internships in renewable energy and biomedical devices and then tried the trading floor at a bank and realised it was great. In my final year of my Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) and Bachelor of Commerce (Finance), I applied online at IMC. I started in early 2018 and have been here for almost a year.
What does a day at IMC look like?
IMC is a high-frequency trading firm. We buy and sell financial instruments on global exchanges using computers. IMC develops software, systems, and ideas to stay ahead of competitors.
I am responsible for a number of things in my day to day role. I run trading systems and analyse trades data to generate new ideas or change what we are doing in response. I am also responsible for getting new software packages up and running for my team.
There no such thing as a typical workday at IMC, which is one of the best parts of the job.
I’m always learning new information and skills because the markets can change very quickly.
I try to get in to work early to read the major headlines from overnight, do some emails or meetings and then set up my trading systems. I will trade while the markets are open and if it isn’t too busy, I can work on other projects. After the close of trading, I write an end of day wrap-up, do some analysis and tie-up any loose ends from the day. Running systems, trading and data analysis are the largest parts of my day most days. When a large project is on sometimes it takes precedence. If the trading day is busy, I’m happily glued to my screens and actively involved there.
What kind of graduates make great traders?
If you’ve studied a degree that gives you strong numerical and problem-solving skills, you’ve got a solid platform to become a trader. Generally, the graduates that perform the best are those with degrees in engineering and sciences. On a personal level, it takes a certain type of person to succeed at IMC.
You need to be the kind of person who makes things happen.
At IMC, you need to be able to get results in a faced paced and competitive external environment. The people who are results driven seem to do the best here. It’s not all about numbers. At IMC, you need to work effectively with people from different backgrounds and be able to communicate concisely about technical topics. The job is not physically demanding but it is a mental sprint and you are always thinking while at work.
The ups and downs of being a graduate trader
I love a challenge, so IMC has been great for me. I have been given more responsibility at IMC in 6 months than most other companies would give me in a few years. I don’t bear this responsibility on my own, people are always there to help. As a junior, people cut will you a bit of slack and help you learn from mistakes. This is one of the best parts of the job
People trust you to be capable and support you in your development along the way.
IMC is an interesting place to work but what we do is niche. On the flipside, working here you learn a broad skill set and it’s rare to work on weekends – which is unheard of for most graduates in finance.
Liam's advice to students
Get involved with as much as you can while at university, whether it be in student societies, sports or social justice programs. Because you’ll get out much more than you put in.
Learn to get disciplined and balanced in life, this is something that is helpful and beneficial no matter what you do. And, always give yourself options – it makes life easier.
Find out about our graduate career opportunities in Sydney and around the world.