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Finding Your Fit: How this Philly technologist found his dream job at Susquehanna

Once he found Susquehanna, Nick Petaccio stopped looking.

Nick Petaccio. (Courtesy Susquehanna)

This article is sponsored by Susquehanna International Group and was reviewed before publication. Susquehanna is a Technical.ly Company Builder client.

Finding the right company can be daunting, but sometimes the best fit is one you’d never expect.

This was the case for Nick Petaccio, a systems engineer at Susquehanna International Group, LLP (SIG). He knew he wanted to grow his technical expertise, work with innovative technology and continue to learn. He thought he might have to go to a technology company to find that — until his first Drexel co-op.

Petaccio’s experiences at the global trading firm helped him realize he had found a place with unique and complex problems to solve using world-class technology, along with unparalleled mentorship for technologists,

He was an undergraduate studying computing and security technology at Drexel when he accepted his first role at Susquehanna’s Bala Cynwyd headquarters. While a financial firm may not be top of mind for a tech student, Petaccio had found his place.

“Rather than trying on three different companies for my co-operative work experiences through Drexel, I completed all of my co-ops working on different teams at Susquehanna,” Petaccio said.

It was the freedom and ability to think about intriguing problems that kept him coming back. “Susquehanna let me experiment early on, allowing me to follow my curiosity and pursue new initiatives,” he said. “As a result, I was able to discover the problems that most resonated for me, while providing value for the firm.”

During his co-ops, Petaccio worked in data center operations, server administration and platform engineering, the team he joined after graduation. Since starting full-time, Petaccio has increased his influence and responsibility; he’s now on the trading platforms specialist team. There, he helps optimize Susquehanna’s trading capabilities through adopting and implementing new technology across software, servers and networking devices.

See available jobs at Susquehanna

“What’s most exciting about my job is finding technical solutions for open-ended questions,” he said. “There are so many interesting problems to solve here and Susquehanna has unique ways to work through them.”

For example, the time his team discovered that cables from a certain vendor were incompatible with devices from another vendor.

“We researched why that incompatibility existed and, in the process, learned about what metadata is stored on a cable and how we could query it,” Petaccio said “This led us to a software configuration option that resolved the incompatibility.”

A culture of continuous learning

While the problems at Susquehanna are complex, its supportive and non-hierarchical environment leads to individuals finding success while navigating uncharted waters.

Petaccio was interested in performance testing hardware devices, but his questions required writing his own utilities in C/C++, with which he didn’t have a lot of experience.

“I mentioned this to some folks who pointed me to introductory resources and then reviewed my code to help me improve further,” he said. “Now we work collaboratively on projects using those languages.”

Susquehanna’s culture of tackling tough questions collaboratively leads to many opportunities for relationship building and mentorship.

“No one is off limits when it comes to whom you can ask questions,” Petaccio said. “I’ve been exposed to problems and technologies I didn’t expect to be interested in by people who have been so willing to teach me. They understand that you do your best work when you’re excited about what you’re working on.”

Petaccio now often teaches newer hires himself.

For example, an issue was causing systems to crash halfway through updates on a particular network card. Once the system recovered, the device wouldn’t recognize the card, rendering it useless and leaving the team with a pile of “broken” hardware. Petaccio devised a solution and recruited a student to collaborate on it.

“I noticed that the devices had a J-Tag connector, which I’d used on a previous project with our FPGA developers,” he said. “I used the skills and tool sets from that project to recover one of these ‘broken’ devices and showed the process to one of our current co-ops who was able to automate the process and recover the cards.”

The culture of learning is integral to Susquehanna. Classes are taught in areas ranging from subjects purely on technology to lessons in finance and game theory.

“The more you know, the more problems you can solve,” Petaccio said. “After every project we take on, we ask ourselves, ‘Does the product function as we intended? Did we learn something new? How can we apply this in the future?’”

While a financial firm may not seem like the natural destination for STEM students, technology is core to Susquehanna’s business, and home to many technologists like Petaccio.

Susquehanna relies on technologists — who aren’t expected to have prior knowledge of finance — to leverage their technical expertise to create proprietary hardware and software solutions focused on scalability, speed, and stability.

Susquehanna is always looking to hire motivated technologists who are eager to learn and challenge industry norms.

Visit this link to learn more about career opportunities at Susquehanna.

See available jobs at Susquehanna

Companies: Susquehanna International Group, LLP

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