Our Team

An interview with Karl Kareem Melaimi, Investment Solutions Intern

Karl Kareem - Website.PNG

Could you tell us about yourself and your background?

I am a third-year Electronic & Information Engineering (EIE) student at Imperial College, undertaking a six-month placement at Aspect Capital. I have an interest in the application of statistics and machine learning to data rich problems such as those that exist when trading. I love sports too and take part in Judo and Football. Although I do not watch as much anymore, I find the NFL to be an extremely interesting case study of data driven sport; a good example of how data is slowly transforming the world.

You are currently doing a six-month internship at Aspect. How did you hear about the role?

I heard about Aspect through two avenues! First, through 100 Black Interns which landed me an interview for the Investment Solutions team and secondly, through the Algothon organised by the Algorithmic Trading Society at Imperial College that was hosted (virtually) by Aspect. As soon as I visited Aspect’s website, I knew this was a good place!

Why did you apply for a placement in financial services? What attracts you to a career in this industry?

As mentioned previously, I like data rich problems. They allow for a lot of creativity in forming solutions and conducting research. Even more important is the opportunity to continue to learn, grow, and discover new facets of knowledge to delve into. I see the financial markets as an unsolvable beast and only by working on it with intelligent and experienced people will you expedite the learning process.

Could you tell us about your experience and the kind of projects you have been involved in?

I have been lucky to work in three teams during my time here: Investment Solutions for three months, Volatility Research for two months and Systematic Global Macro for one month. During my time I have worked on a variety of projects, including:

  • A dynamic simulation environment for the Investment Solutions team to extract key statistics from a time series of simulated performance.
  • Improving reporting within the Volatility Research team to include the “Greeks”, which are first and second order derivatives of options which allow us to attribute PnL to certain factors in the market and understand how shocks have/will affect our portfolio. I have also started developing a real time dashboard for viewing important risk metrics.
  • Assisting research in the Global Macro team to uncover various properties of a signal such as correlation to certain markets and drawdown properties.

It has gone by incredibly quickly, I almost can’t believe it! I have spent the last few weeks wrapping up projects and shifting focus to ensure all my work is still usable when I leave. I know it is going to feel strange to wake up at 7am one day soon and realise I don’t have to be in the office!

I’ll cherish the time that I’ve spent at Aspect, as well as the valuable friends I’ve made in the other interns, however, I’m pleased to say that I’ve been made a return offer, so I’m looking forward to coming back as a Researcher after my final year at university.

What are the main benefits such a placement can offer?

A placement or internship is an incredibly valuable experience that can shape the rest of your career. By working for a prolonged period, across many teams, you get a very thorough understanding of what you do and do not like. As well as all the value you gain from learning new technical and interpersonal skills, I believe that getting an understanding of what you truly want to do is the most valuable takeaway from an internship; it inches you toward what you’re good at and, hopefully, what will make you happy.

Any pieces of advice to those considering similar internships?

When applying, be very honest with yourself about what you wish to get out of an internship. Remember, you are there to add value, but you are also there to learn. Relay to HR exactly what you want to do, because if you don’t ask, you will not get. This is the main reason I have been able to work in three different teams during my time here: I asked!

Lastly, I hear you’re a fitness instructor in your spare time. You’re a busy man! How do you juggle your studies, work and fitness regime?

Yes, I teach a couple of spin classes during the week straight after work and during the weekends. This comes naturally as I’ve grown up around fitness; my dad is a Personal Trainer and the Gym Manager where I teach my classes. If I wasn’t teaching a class, I’d be in the gym anyway, so I may as well earn some money from it! Balancing my time is always a process that could be improved, but I think you always find time for the things you need to do, even if it comes at the cost of sleep!

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