I came across an interesting career advice article today in the June 2007 issue of the "Windows IT Pro" magazine. The writer, Ben Smith, is a "security strategiest" at Microsoft. Although the article is addressed to an IT audience, its five-step strategy is applicable to any aspiring quant as well.
Smith’s five steps of getting ahead are (together with my commentaries):
1) Think a job ahead. This means when you consider changing jobs, you should think about what you want to do after the next job, i.e., two steps ahead. For someone still in school and trying to find that first quant job, doing this may be a little too much — so instead I recommend you focus on getting that first job first. But my experience also indicates that ideally you should plan out your career path in advance, and know where you want to be. (It’s like that old Microsoft advertising jingle: "Where do you want to go today?")
2) Find mentors. This is discussed in my book: identify people already in the industry who’s willing to help you get started. Of course, if you are the shy type, this is extremely hard to do. But if you pay a little attention around, you might find an industry veteran — e.g., a person from the same school or country as you — who might "click" with you.
3) Obtain needed skills and experience. Nothing surprising here, and it’s discussed at length in my book.
4) Track and quantify your achievements. Exactly what I recommend you do on your resume.
5) Focus on your strengths. Exactly what I recommend in the book for writing an effective resume and acing a quant job interview.
Smith sums up his advice with this statement: It’s both who you know and what you know that gets you ahead in your career. Fair enough.