Physics grad student: how to build employability in programming & finance

I’m a the­o­ret­i­cal physics (quan­tum com­put­ing) grad stu­dent. I re­ally like what I do, and would like to con­tinue do­ing it for a long time.

But I’m aware that the job mar­ket in academia for freshly minted physics PhDs is not spec­tac­u­lar. For per­sonal rea­sons, I may not be able to go through the post-doc tread­mill and I might want to make good money. Thus: pro­gram­ming & fi­nance. I cur­rently lean to­wards pro­gram­ming.

I thought LW is a good place to ask for ad­vice re­lated to this.

Cur­rent skills: Good at math, definitely not “gifted”. I know C++, and some Python; nei­ther in­side out. I don’t know spe­cific tech­niques to de­sign good al­gorithms for prob­lems. For ex­am­ple, I tried my hand a few times at pro­gram­ming con­tests (in­clud­ing those at small scales) and got my ass handed to me. I’ve only taken ba­sic col­lege courses in pro­gram­ming.

I’m not very aware of the skills tested in quant in­ter­views. I’m sure googling and talk­ing to a few peo­ple will fix this, but please feel free to add your thoughts.

I have about a cou­ple of years left till I grad­u­ate, so I can do this prop­erly: What is the best way to make sure that when I grad­u­ate I can eas­ily take a job in soft­ware or fi­nance af­ter the PhD? Look­ing for the most bang-for-the-buck (the buck here be­ing time and money) way to do this.

Also, I may have blin­ders on. Are there other well-pay­ing jobs out there for physics PhDs? I’m not an Amer­i­can cit­i­zen, so many of the gov­ern­ment/​gov­ern­ment-funded lab jobs are out of the ques­tion.

Thanks in ad­vance.

Some re­sources I’ve iden­ti­fied:

1. USACO train­ing gate­way.

2. SICP. (How much is it worth go­ing through this?)

3. Crack­ing the Cod­ing In­ter­view.