A career in alternative assets can be personally rewarding in a way few other jobs are. Besides meeting and working with remarkably smart go-getters and learning an industry that can influence global economic policy, it is also one of the most financially lucrative.
Getting in the door, however, can be as difficult as being accepted at an Ivy League school. Investopedia understatedly describes it as “no cakewalk.”
For those committed to exploring a career in hedge funds, the website has helpfully put together a 10 step plan to landing an entry-level position. It also applies to anyone considering a mid-career change.
The first step is to make sure it’s a career you want. “If you really want to work for a hedge fund, it will show in your self-discipline, networking, knowledge of the industry, passion, and actions,” says Investopedia. “Go all in and learn as much as you can. Make the decision to change focus, commit to it for three to five years, and see what comes of it.”
Even at the entry-level, the pressure to succeed and the personal investment can be intense.
You’ll need to learn the basics. To get a feel for the industry and how it works, step two is to study. Subscribing to the several free industry newsletters is a start; many will also list career moves and discuss the moves and shakers, helping you to begin building a contact list. Join investing clubs that include hedge funds. You’ll learn from other members who will become part of your network.
Investopedia’s strategy is to next narrow your options to “consider only positions in which you can be passionate about your work, that draw upon your education and natural strengths, and that have the potential to be highly profitable.” That certainly helps you focus, but by going too granular at this stage you might miss what you don’t yet know. We suggest that as you begin to zero in, you also keep an open mind.
An important step is to find mentors. “It takes time to develop mentoring relationships, but many successful people are happy to help others out if they can,” Investopedia acknowledges. Your club members and the speakers at your meetings are a place to start. Career counselors also advise having more than one mentor. Your relationship will change as you advance in knowledge, so start at a lower level and make new connections that will open career opportunities for you.
The other steps in this program include developing your personal brand and getting noticed. You’ll also want to seek out internships to give you some real-world experience. There are some research internships that will allow you to work remotely or at times that don’t conflict with your job or school. These opportunities, as well as your mentors and network, can also alert you to job openings, Many go unadvertised.
Landing that first job in a new industry is never easy. Following the Investopedia strategy is no guarantee of success. But for those who are dedicated and disciplined, the 10 steps will vastly improve your chances of a hedge fund door opening.
Image by Arek Socha