History Major Jordan Nach Talks Shop

May 3, 2012

Dr. Randy Kidd interviewed Jordan Nach about his summer job and how it relates to his major in History.

Kidd:  You had a rather unusual job for an historian last summer, which I understand may become your full-time job after graduation next term. While some of our students had internships in teaching, museum studies and archaeology, you worked for a derivatives firm in Chicago, is that correct?

 Nach:  Yes,  I interned in both the IT, and trading aspects of the business.  That gave me the opportunity to understand both the marketplace and the technical side of options trading.  Keeping trader’s hours proved a challenge for me as a history major, but the experience was well worth it.

Kidd:  What is derivative trading and what particular skills do you bring to bear on the job?  That is, what overlap is there between your historical studies at BU and your position at the firm?

Nach:  Without getting too technical, options trading are a way to bet on the price or the change of an underlying security like a stock or a future.  The main historical skill I carried over to this job was my ability to make connections.  Options are priced based on volatility, so any small change can swing the price of an option significantly.  Seeing seemingly unrelated things as interconnected helped me to understand otherwise random moves in the market.  It’s not always clear how strife in the Middle East can bring oil prices down, or how a successful US bond auction can affect the exchange rate of Euros and Swiss Francs, but by examining historical trends and applying reason, I was able to make some sense of the market.

 Kidd:  Did your employer take into consideration that you were a BU upperclassman in the hiring process?  That is, do you feel your standing at BU helped you?

 Nach:  I don’t think I was asked what school I was from until after I was offered the job.  I got the internship by impressing one of the executives with my chess playing.  Trading is one big game, so they were looking for people who have a passion for strategy.  Being a Bradley History major didn’t prevent me from working with math and economics majors from some of the top universities in the country.

 Kidd:  What interests you most in history?

Nach:  I’m most interested in the history of science.  I think that it’s important to study the only aspect of humanity that has undeniably advanced.  I also like connecting the technical aspects of science with the story of its creation.  Keppler’s laws hold greater significance when one understands where they fit in the historical scientific framework and how Keppler was able to quantify the way he saw the heavens.  Those connections are what draw me to the history of science.

 Kidd:  Where do you see yourself in ten years?

 Nach:  One thing I learned through this internship is that everything is governed by probability.  I wouldn’t want to speculate with too many unknowns in front of me.  That being said, I would definitely like to be working in the trading industry either in Chicago or New York.