If you’re looking to break into the exciting world of hedge funds and alternative investing, but you’re not sure where to start, here is a great jumping off point: check out a conference! Here are a few tips to make your conference experience both enjoyable and worth your time and money.
To choose which conference you go to, think about the following:
- How much can you afford to spend? Take into account the sometimes-outrageous conference fee plus travel costs. Keep in mind you don’t have to stay at the hotel the conference is held in if it’s not in your budget. Since most conferences are held in large cities, you can generally find a less expensive place to stay.
- Is there anything in particular you’d like to learn about? Search for a conference that interests you, or has at least one panel or speaker session that really intrigues you.
- Is there anyone in the hedge fund world you’d like to meet? If they’re a bigwig at one of the larger funds, there’s a good chance they’re speaking at a conference in the next year or so.
- Is there a firm you want to work for but can’t get your foot in the door? Take a look at both who’s speaking at the conference and who’s sponsoring the conference.
Once you’ve signed up for a conference, contact the conference organizer and let them know your situation, i.e. if you’re a student, recent graduate, or otherwise unemployed. Ask if there are any invite-only events going on, and ask for an invite. Many times, various firms or vendors will sponsor invite-only happy hours or dinners, and you can meet a great variety of people at these events. They’re also generally more fun than the conference itself.
At the conference, dress appropriately. Feel free to contact the conference organizer and ask about the dress code. If in doubt, wear a well-fitting suit. Make sure you look professional without your suit jacket so you can remove it at the conference if you look overdressed.
Also, be sure to check out the vendors. You may meet one you’d like to work for, or you may meet someone that will help you later on in your career. Treat everyone you meet as if they’re just as important as the CEO of the hedge fund you’re dying to work for.
Last important tip: watch your alcohol consumption at the conference, at any happy hour or dinner, and at the conference hotel. If you’re new to this world, alcohol and finance go together like bread and butter. Set a limit and stick to it. If you don’t think you can do that, drink soda so it looks as if you’re drinking a mixed drink. As fun as it can be boozing with important people, you don’t want to be remembered as the kid who yakked on the plant at the fancy restaurant.
Check out the following for upcoming conferences:
Enjoy your conference (but not too much)!