Research Internships with Aspect Capital

In this piece we hear from two of Aspect’s 2022 Summer Research Interns. Aditi Lapasia and Hannah Sleath share their experience of Aspect as well as their advice for those looking into summer internships.

Which team and projects have you been involved in during your time with Aspect?

Aditi: I was a summer research intern within the Risk Premia team. For my internship project, I worked on formulating a new strategy that the team could potentially add to one of Aspect’s existing investment programmes. The strategy design process included in-depth analysis of the raw indicators as well as asset classes, hypothesis testing, and determination of the optimal strategy based on different risk-return metrics.

Through this project, I was able to understand the end-to-end process of designing a systematic investment strategy as well as practically incorporate different tools I learned at university to transform massive datasets into meaningful indicators that return a viable and profitable trading strategy.

Hannah: I spent my internship working as a summer quantitative research intern in the Risk Premia team, using fundamental analysis to predict the price movements of commodities. This involved researching commodities and factors affecting their price; conducting exploratory data analysis; quantitatively studying the relationships between potential forecast indicators and the markets; and designing strategies based on these indicators. Throughout the process, my mentor offered guidance and support whilst also giving me the chance to come up with my own ideas and conduct independent research. Overall, the internship has been a great opportunity to learn about finance and hone my research, coding and data analysis skills.

How did you go about applying to Aspect?

Aditi: I came across the research internship at Aspect through the GAIN Empower Investment Internship Programme, which is a diversity initiative by GAIN (Girls Are INvestors) and Level 20 that provides women and non-binary candidates in the UK with an opportunity to intern with investment management firms.

Could you describe the culture you have experienced at Aspect?

Hannah: Having heard of Aspect’s culture of scientific innovation, collaboration and inclusivity, I started the internship with high expectations – but my experience has actually exceeded these in so many ways.

Every person that I’ve encountered during my internship has been welcoming and keen to offer advice and help. Aspect encourages a culture of collaboration, with people from different areas of the company regularly discussing and working together on projects. I’ve had numerous opportunities to speak with researchers from other teams about their projects and experiences at work, as well as being kindly invited along to reading groups held by the machine learning research team to hear about the latest ideas and publications in the field. There are also frequent lunchtime sessions where employees from across the company present on relevant topics.

Aspect offers a variety of activities and initiatives to get involved with outside of work. For example, I joined the Charity and DE&I (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) Committees during my time at Aspect, which really opened my eyes to the efforts Aspect puts into supporting people from disadvantaged or minority backgrounds and raising awareness about important matters. The Charity Committee organised a charity music concert during my time at Aspect; it was amazing to appreciate first-hand the musical talent within the company (after the concert, I learned a duet with one of the pianists, regularly playing on the company piano after work hours).

The Sports Committee frequently arranges sports activities – I had a great time playing badminton (despite not being particularly skilled myself!) and running the Serpentine 5km with fellow Aspect employees. There are also regular events hosted by the Social Committee, as well as the monthly “Coffee & Conversation” where employees are randomly assigned as pairs to meet up, providing opportunities to mix and socialise with people across the company.

What has been your favourite part of your internship?

Hannah: It’s honestly difficult for me to choose a single favourite part! Given that I come from a non-finance (biophysics) background, I’ve really enjoyed learning about finance and quantitative research – both from my project mentor, team and other employees in the firm, and from the financial training sessions organised for new joiners. I’ve also really appreciated the friendly and collaborative culture at Aspect, and the chance to meet lots of smart, driven people coming from a wide range of backgrounds.

Would you have any advice for those considering internships?

Aditi: Reflect on what you want to gain out of your internship – whether it’s exploring your interest in the field or learning a particular skillset. This will also help the recruiting manager determine which project will be best suited to you.

Moreover, Aspect’s inclusive culture provides interns with ample opportunities to interact with senior executives at the firm – from new joiner sessions with the founders, Anthony and Marty, to presenting our projects at the company wide weekly meeting. Make use of these platforms to actively ask questions and learn from others’ experiences.

Hannah: Coming from a biophysics background, I was admittedly a bit nervous at first about applying without any prior experience in finance – however, after speaking with my interviewers and joining Aspect, I quickly realised that employees here have come from a variety of backgrounds, so there is no need to worry. There is a wide range of roles at Aspect, so I would advise that you look through all the options (you might come across a role that you hadn’t thought of before). I would also suggest thinking about why you would like to do an internship and what you hope to gain from it, to help you and HR to identify which role and team might be a suitable match for your skillset and aspirations. Finally, during the internship I would recommend that you fully immerse yourself in the company culture (there are so many events, activities and learning opportunities) – and most of all have fun!

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