I need some help and guidance. I followed the advice on this forum about 3 years ago, and I've gotten myself much closer but not quite where I want to be. I've been working on Wall St. for some time now as a guy who develops a lot of the infrastructure for pulling in market data, cleansing it, homogenizing it and such for quantitative trading algorithms and traders. Some of it is automated, some isn't. I spent a great deal of time at an equity derivatives market maker. Prior to Wall St., I sat around designing computer hardware and writing very low level systems software. I eventually got paid a lot of money for developing high throughput systems for internet casinos. After Bush signed laws outlawing internet poker, I sold myself to Wall St., since I had experience designing very high-demand server systems. I'm very good at that. I've gotten offers for jobs from Investment Banks, but I turned them down when they were always more of the same -- there's only so much market-data system software I can write. My grades were decent as an undergraduate. Then when I applied to financial engineering programs, I got rejected. My competition had a better math background, I guess. However, I got admitted to some PhD programs and some masters programs for applied mathematics and statistics. I accepted, and I've been taking statistics classes.. I settled on Columbia University, so I could continue working on Wall St. while I'm taking courses at night. So now I'm in the Ivy League, getting a degree with value I'm uncertain about, and trying to figure out where to go from here. I'll graduate in 2-3 semesters, after which I'll have more exposure to time-series analysis and raw data analysis. Where can I go from here? My goal is to design automatic stock trading systems and have more insight into that. I don't care about derivatives -- I just want to win with efficient, slick automated mathematically driven strategies on NASDAQ and the NYSE. So many of these jobs I find are so tangential. How do I take my experience and knowledge and find some place where I can see people take a strategy from conception to implementation for stocks? Or do I just need to say, "I'm not going to get this from a job. I'm going to start doing my own research, develop my own systems, and do it on my own." ?