What Does a Software Engineer Do in Electronic Commerce? The life of a software engineer at Citadel Securities

Kelly He is a software engineer at Citadel Effects in New York City. She graduated from MIT with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science in 2022 and interned at Facebook before interning at Citadel Effects and joined the company full-time two years ago. This is what a day in her life looks like.

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8am. Last year I had a big window in my bedroom and woke up with the sunrise, but since moving to another apartment in Lower Manhattan, I can avoid that these days. Now I wake up at 8am and quickly get ready for work. To save some time, I take the subway to the office instead of a 30-minute walk.

8:30 am. I usually get to the office around 8:30 am. I work in-house at Citadel Securities and am responsible for client execution services for stocks and options. – What I do contributes to the work of our traders and sellers. I’m on the User Interface (UI) team and we own multiple applications with different use cases and internal users from across the organization. UI matters – if you have a great system but can’t easily interact with it, it won’t be very useful to the people it’s intended for.

9:00 am. I have an appointment with some colleagues who use one of our apps. My role includes talking to our internal users about their needs. I have conversations with different users all day long so that we can understand how to develop the apps that meet the needs of as many people as possible. This can be complicated – users have different needs depending on their industry, role or focus – but it is also very rewarding. I talk directly to the users and quickly see the impact of my work.

10am. I’m back at my desk working on an issue with one of our apps. I spend part of my time fighting fires. Because my team works most closely with the users, when an issue arises, we are usually the first to hear about it and act quickly to resolve it. During market hours, part of my role is troubleshooting and providing support. This can mean a lot of context switching; it also means I’m never bored.

10:30 am. I’m doing some quick work to improve the functionality of our data pipeline. Since most of my work involves apps, I usually code in React or Javascript for our web apps.

11:45 am. We have our first release of the day. Some days we have as many as three releases. Because we work on internal tools, we can release regularly and immediately see the impact of our work. This keeps it interesting. Everything is going according to plan, thanks to our strong test environment,

12.00. Lunch! The company provides lunch every day and there are many healthy options, which is good for preventing food comas. I usually eat at my desk, but sometimes I also take the time for a coffee chat.

13.00 I follow some traders. I have never been a trader, so I see them working to understand what they are doing and the problems they face. If I were to work on something I use personally, like Instagram, I would have a lot of experience as a user and be able to feel improvements myself. By following the traders, I get to understand the reality of their processes and develop the user interface based on their experiences rather than my own assumptions.

The traders make some suggestions for improvements, and I go back to my desk and consider how best to implement them.

14.00 hours Every weekday around 2 p.m. I have a short stand-up meeting with my immediate team, where we discuss what we are working on. Once a week we also have a whole development team meeting of 30-40 people to get a broader perspective. Our leadership wants us to be aware of everything that’s happening so we can build the best overall systems and be creative in our approach to UI.

2:30 p.m. I spend a little more time responding to the feedback the users provided earlier in the day.

3:30 PM. We still need to fix a bug. This one is more complex; it takes about an hour before I can get back the improvements I was working on.

4:45 p.m. We have another release.

5 p.m. When the market closes, it will give me the opportunity to focus on coding. Some days are busier than others, but often there is a time when I can sit and learn new things or come up with a new solution. That’s something that’s really encouraged here. Because engineering is seen as key to a company’s competitive advantage, we are about much more than the pursuit of great code; it’s about commercial thinking and identifying and pursuing projects with real business value. That mandate extends to everyone, regardless of how long you have been with the company. It creates some exciting opportunities for more junior team members like me.

6 p.m. I usually finish between 6:00 and 6:30 PM and walk home to unpack. Every now and then I stay a little longer to do extra work.

After work I usually go to the gym or hang out with my friends. I also try to keep up with creative hobbies: I sew and do some woodworking. I recently checked into a makerspace where I’m trying to make a ladder. I watch a lot of DIY on YouTube and really enjoy crafting – it’s a complete contrast to my day job!

1 hour. I tend to stay up quite late. I’m a night owl and am ready for the day after six or seven hours of sleep.

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