How do I get a job at a proprietary trading firm?

Hey Mr. Bellafiore, 

… I am about to go off to college at the university of Oregon. I’ve been trading for 1 year now and even though I am not yet consistently profitable, I am getting closer and closer to that goal through the help of your two books and SMB’s videos on YouTube. 

One of the best things I’ve learned from your books is how to review my trading and I believe that professional review implementation will be the next step for me and becoming consistent. But my question is how should I go about trying to get a prop firm trading job in New York? (the dream would be at SMB but I understand how competitive it is).

See I understand that I’m not going to be coming from an Ivy League school and I won’t be a collegiate athlete, so I’m a bit worried my resume won’t be able to cut it in the New York prop firm world. I love trading, this without a doubt in my mind will be my career…. I will make that happen whether I can trade with a prop firm or just on my own. But man oh man, I think about how much better I could get if I was around other traders who spread ideas and push each other. 

The whole idea of that grindstone trading culture where everyone is trying to bring others along but also still be top dog is so appealing to me. So my question to you is how should I go about trying to get a prop firm job in New York that will give me the best chance of getting one? The one thought I had that gave me hope was that if I do become consistently profitable and a very solid trader over the next few years here (I will be actively trading in college) …. then would there be a way for me prove my abilities, like putting my statements or something on my resume that might help me stand out and be able to compete on paper with Ivy League applicants and former collegiate athletes.

Again, thank you Bella and the whole SMB team for what you do for the trading community, even though I’m not where I want to be in my trading yet, I would still be miles away from where I am right now if it wasn’t for you guys. I hope you get a chance to read this, and have a good rest of your day.

Bella responds

Let me offer some perspective from my seat.  We have to hire great people.  Our firm is only as good as the traders we recruit.  We are often asked why we share so much free training on our SMB Capital YouTube channel and the answer is simple: to attract the right traders to our firm.

We hire most of our traders through our internship program.  If you are a US college student you can apply to intern with SMB, usually Sophomore or Junior year.  We need to attract awesome college interns to apply. In return, interns are on track to stand out and be hired by the firm.  And then receive access to immense firm resources: training, capital, proprietary technology, automated trading technology, senior traders, team trading, serious developing traders, Dr. Steenbarger (trading coach), firm partners, risk manager, and much more.

So what makes you an awesome college intern candidate in our eyes?

  1. We love how you are actively trading in college.  This will stand out.
  2. We love how you are planning to put yourself in the best position to be hired.  This shows diligence.
  3. We would love to see your serious working on trading: keeping trading stats, building a PlayBook.
  4. Excel at what is important to you in college, ex. academically, athletically, and/or extra curricular.  A history of success in school portends your chance of being successful as a trader.
  5. Do you fit our culture?  Our traders work every day to improve and do so intensively.
  6. You are a team player.  You will work to help others get better at the firm and not just think about your personal PnL.
  7.  You are a good person that we will all be proud to work with.

You do not need to go to an Ivy League school.  You do not need to be a college athlete.  Those can be variables of an awesome college intern, but they are not essential nor dispositive.  Awesome college interns come in many shapes and sizes.

We are very grateful for the success we have had at our firm.  We are grateful for the elite traders who have developed at the firm.  The most fun from our success as a firm is watching young traders grow and become amazingly successful.  In some cases, more successful than they ever imagined.

Important disclosures

Mike Bellafiore is the Co-Founder of SMB Capital, a proprietary trading desk, and SMB Training, which provides trading education in stocks, options, and futures. Bella is the author of One Good Trade and The PlayBook. He welcomes your trading questions at [email protected]