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Inside one third year student's strategy for getting a Citadel hedge fund internship

18 months ago, Emma Wardle wasn't sure that she wanted to work in financial services. As an electronic and information engineering student at London's Imperial College, Wardle was keeping her options open.  Maybe finance. Maybe a technology start-up. Maybe consulting.

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"I went in not knowing what I wanted to do and being open to try anything," says Wardle, who was in her third year of university. "My strategy was to see which offers I got and then to decide what I wanted to do."

Among the responses to 30 varied applications, hedge fund, Citadel, got back to her. Citadel offered Wardle an internship with its London fixed income and macro team. Until that point, she says she knew almost nothing about finance. "I came from a background where I'd done a lot of maths but where I had very little knowledge about things like rates and markets," she says. "It was a steep learning curve, but I received a lot of help and there were always experienced people around to answer questions."

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Wardle interned with Citadel in summer 2023. The summer before, she interned with a small London tech firm. Comparatively, the tech firm internship was chaotic: "In a start-up everyone is so unbelievably stretched that there's not as much support," Wardle says. 

At Citadel, there was more structure. The 11-week internship began with a week at South Lodge, an "amazing" hotel and spa in Horsham, Sussex, where there were workshops, team building events, resilience coaching sessions and a vineyard tour. It segued into time in the London office, where Wardle was given a project to design a new trading strategy for the fixed income desk. "I was paired with a mentor and a manager who gave me a lot of support with the project" she says.

 The project evidently went well, because Wardle returned to work for Citadel's fixed income strats team full-time in October 2023 after the internship ended. Much of her current role entails creating analytical capabilities, models and tools for the investment professionals focused on inflation markets."There's also some statistical research and analysis," Wardle says. "It's about looking at the market and understanding what's going on in terms of how assets are moving and what's causing that movement."

In time, Wardle hopes to become a quantitative portfolio manager. "You can see your career trajectory here and that's a real point of attraction," she says. "The next stage for me will be to create a trading process that embodies my trading style. Then I would become an associate portfolio manager and ultimately a portfolio manager.

Going from strat to portfolio manager can take several years, says Wardle.  "There's a real appetite to promote people here. If you're performing well, there is no holding back"

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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