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My life at DRW: Why I chose Chicago over the Silicon Valley

When I was nearing the end of my college career, I saw two options: Silicon Valley or anywhere else in the world. Now, I just needed to choose. Easy, right? 

Like many of my peers, I started down the path towards Silicon Valley. Most of the companies I was interviewing with had big names and even bigger products that I had used or heard of before. But, as I got deeper into the process, I saw more of what my actual day to day would look like at these companies. I would start out as a junior developer, sit in a small desk in some corner of a huge global enterprise and write code that would have a minimal effect on the application as a whole. With product lifecycles of three years or more I would never know if the work I did actually ever made an impact.

Despite the clout of these companies, it seemed like an outdated approach to my career. I needed to find a job where I could see my contributions making a real impact.

DRW showed me a very different opportunity. I would sit on the same desk as the people using my software and get instant, honest feedback. I could see myself working on a close-knit team solving interesting problems with complex code. That code I created would be used by the trader next to me, and if things went really well, could be used by colleagues in London or Singapore.

So, I took the job at DRW and haven’t regretted it for a second. Okay, maybe in January when it’s -10 F outside I regret it for a second or two. But then I walk into the office and am exposed to a huge breadth of knowledge and any regret goes out the window.

At DRW, we’re all invested in creating the best piece of software we can. You’re involved in the entire lifecycle of a given product, writing code that will be in the user’s hands in a matter of days.

I’m constantly being brought into new, interesting projects. At times, it’s for me to take full reigns on a programming project, or just to share a second opinion with traders, developers or quants on other desks. These projects are always exposing me to a new topic – a new market, exchange, product or programming language – and it makes me a better engineer.

I now work on rather complex software. It’s the kind of stuff I’ve always been interested in – C++, high performing, very robust and critical — but I wasn’t on this code base when I started at DRW in 2015. My interests lied in lower level code and DRW gave me the flexibility to work on a team whose software more closely aligned with those interests. So, I started doing a few projects for a new team and eventually was pulled into the area I’m in now purely because of my work – not because of my age experience or job title.

At DRW, you research a problem and you try to make the software as robust as possible to solve that problem – and that’s exactly what I wanted when I imagined my dream job as a senior in college.