Trade Talk Blog: TT CampusConnect

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For college students decades ago, a standard exercise was to pick a number of securities, carefully roster them in a notebook and register the closing price each day throughout the semester. Information was gleaned from The Wall Street Journal, and when the dust settled, some students made money and some lost. It’s unclear if students learned much given that they read about how their portfolios performed instead of actually experiencing the market and engaging with it.

How times have changed. For the better.

Now students can experience market dynamics, not just read about them. University professors understand that students need to move beyond the classroom and actually experience what they have been studying.

carnegie mellon university

Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is one example of a school that’s providing students with that real-world experience by leveraging our software through the TT CampusConnect™ program.

CMU offers both BS and master’s degrees in computational finance, a discipline that first emerged in the 1980s. Sometimes called financial engineering or quantitative finance, computational finance uses mathematics, statistics and computing to solve finance problems.

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The University of Wisconsin-Madison has been a TT CampusConnect partner school since 2014. Sheldon Du, an assistant professor of agricultural and applied economics in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, uses both the X_TRADER® and TT® platforms in his Commodity Markets class to help students understand the concept of managing price risk. Read on to learn more about Professor Du, his class and how it’s preparing his students for careers in the commodity markets.

From left to right, trading team members Jackson Remer, Brad Jaeger, Carly Edge, Cory Epprecht, Sam Seid, and Professor Sheldon Du. Not pictured: Nicholas Barber and Hannah Fritsch.
From left to right, trading team members Jackson Remer, Brad Jaeger, Carly Edge, Cory Epprecht, Sam Seid, and Professor Sheldon Du. Not pictured: Nicholas Barber and Hannah Fritsch.Using real-world commodity-trading software and armed with simulated trading experience in agricultural markets, some University of Wisconsin-Madison students are finding paths to jobs after graduation.


“We prepare students by providing the knowledge of the trading software used by professionals and an understanding of how these sometimes-volatile markets work in real time,” says Sheldon Du, assistant professor of agricultural and applied economics.

Du says that the market for Agricultural Business Management majors is promising, and students’ experience with professional software platforms and hands-on simulated commodity trading makes them more attractive job candidates.

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NDSU TT CampusConnect

By Drs. William W Wilson and Frayne Olson, North Dakota State University

The job market in agriculture has been particularly robust over the past 5-10 years.¹ This is partly in response to the retrenchment that happened in many companies about 10 years ago along with the evolving demographics of many agricultural firms. There are a multitude of other reasons for this including the escalation in economies of transactions, greater risk, ethanol and energy trading (e.g., oil and electricity) that tends to attract grain traders, and, importantly, a fairly robust view of agriculture by many companies. Indeed, some firms have indicated that their growth is limited only by their inability to hire enough well-qualified individuals.

As a result of these changes, most agriculture programs in the United States have benefited with increased enrollments (although this has increased the challenges in teaching) and placements, particularly for those who are well trained.
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TT interns grab some snacks from the kitchen and socialize at the Chicago headquarters. 

I’m just now starting my second month as a summer intern at TT, and to be honest, my experience was not what I originally anticipated.

To my surprise, I walked into a corporate playground—an oxymoron filled with unlimited snacks, any and every beverage you could ever dream of, an extensive game room, and—get this—a bar. I then got to my desk, which was adorned with yet more snacks and a picture of Eric Estrada (I, as a college student, admittedly had to ask who he was) awaiting my arrival. To say I was taken aback by everything was an understatement. And I was a little uncomfortable as I was the only one in the building wearing a blazer.

This all made me a little apprehensive as I was acclimated to a more corporate environment in past internships and experiences. I honestly questioned how people got work done with so many distractions—let alone how they stayed healthy with bagels every morning and Doritos at arms reach. That is until I actually started working and met the people I would be working with.

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One of the greatest challenges of running a technology company—particularly when you’re not located on a coast and your name isn’t Google, Microsoft, Amazon or Facebook—is talent acquisition. Sure, TT faces plenty of other challenges as a technology provider in capital markets: our industry has had a tumultuous few years which have seen contraction, corruption and regulatory uncertainty; the only recently abating race toward zero latency was a story of significant capital expenditure as much as it was engineering ingenuity; the benefits that technology has brought to the trading world have often been overshadowed by its high-profile failures.

TT employees gather at the Chicago headquarters.

But the challenges we face running a technology business in this space are no match for the difficulty of building and maintaining a recruiting pipeline of the brightest minds. And when your people are more important than your product—after all, without the former, you’ll never have the latter—this is a challenge that requires the utmost attention from the highest levels of an organization.

Finding success at this is as much a function of TT being an amazing place to work as it is finding the right people in the first place. Which is why I recently made several organizational changes to better focus the business, including appointing Katie Burgoon as EVP of HR, Drew Shields as CTO and Mike Mayhew as CIO. Together with them, I will be doubling down our focus on recruiting efforts, ensuring that we’re leaving no stone unturned in finding the best people and that TT is sought after by the best as a great place to work.
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