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Rising Stars: If the Fund Fits, Join It
Most of Amol's job offers were in consulting, but he applied for one position at a hedge fund because friends there recommended it. "I had a quantitative background and [the fund] fit my investment philosophy. My contacts told me the best time to get in was right after college. All of that convinced me to take the job."
School: University of Pennsylvania
Major: Electrical Engineering and Finance
Years Out of College: 0-2
It may sound like Amol was unusually well-prepared for his job, but he did rely on his firm's training program to bring him up to speed. "I did a summer-long training program and learned about my firm at a high level but didn't learn about my own job until I was on it."
The biggest shock: "The learning curve, actually. I was surprised to learn how much you don't learn in school, even though I had a finance degree. I've definitely felt a little lost at times." Amol has made a point of seeking out more experienced members of his group and claims that "the associates aren't afraid to sit down and talk things through with analysts." Aspiring hedge fund managers need to have the fundamental quantitative skills, but Amol is a reminder that a proactive attitude towards mentorship is also important.
Amol contributes to fine-tuning the economic models used by his fund and also has a hand in re-balancing portfolios. His supervising associates assign his work, but he has a fairly free hand in his research and making recommendations. The associates, if anything, are more helpful than tyrannical. Amol says the hierarchy "is pretty flat."
And he gets to do what he likes. "Research is probably the thing I look forward to most. I like exploring and coming up with improvements for our models."
Possibly the most important advice Amol can pass on has to do with compatibility. "Quantitative hedge funds are a business for people who have quantitative experience. There's lots of programming and attention to detail. You have to want to fit into the bigger process. People have to accept that it'll take years, not months to get on the learning curve. This is not the right place if you're sort of the person who likes to think on the fly."
"So think hard. And if the fund fits, join it."
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