Last week, a Hunter College High School student and Rock The Street, Wall Street participant attended the Women’s Association of Venture & Equity (WAVE) conference. Here’s what she had to say about the experience:

On Friday, November 8th, 2019, I attended the third annual Women In Alternative Investments Career Forum hosted by the Women’s Association of Venture & Equity (WAVE) in New York City. The career forum brought together 300 young women and industry leaders for a day of networking designed to continue to advance the diversity of the field.

The event began with four panels featuring industry veterans answering questions submitted by the scholars. Students asked a wide variety of questions, but primarily focused on advice for how to be successful in the field. While each panelist came with their own perspective to these questions, they agreed on key themes for finding success: be proactive and go above and beyond what is asked of you; hard skills are the same among everyone, attitude and perspective are what makes someone stand out; find mentors, advocates, and challengers; push yourself outside of your comfort zone, don’t underestimate yourself and don’t be afraid to try.

 After the panels, everyone broke off into smaller round-table groups, each with a combination of scholars and professionals. Splitting into smaller groups allowed us to ask more specific and personal questions to the female financial professionals. The round-table captains I met with came from diverse backgrounds, who demonstrated and explained to the scholars that there are endless ways to achieve success in the financial services industry and that a unique approach is not only more rewarding but valued by potential employers. For a lot of the students, hearing this was a tremendous relief, as many of us are often pushed to follow a more traditional path.

Following the small group session, I met with Chrissie Chen Pariso, Senior Portfolio Manager of Private Equity at Exelon and Co-Chair of the career forum. She explained that after meeting with Rock The Street, Wall Street, she felt like the career forum could benefit RTSWS students, despite the fact that the forum is normally designed for college students. From my perspective, the forum definitely proved a great opportunity to not only network with professionals in the industry, but also to learn more about what life in the industry is like. The career forum ended with a career expo where the scholars could visit booths representing over 50 firms, learn more about them, network with them, and potentially open the door for future employment.

Overall, the WAVE career forum was a great experience and very educational and helpful. The involvement of so many large and successful companies showed their dedication to finding and recruiting new and diverse talent. As a high school student, the advice I learned at the career forum will be useful as I enter internships and jobs in college. Additionally, the welcoming nature of every attendee, both the professionals and the scholars, made me feel wanted and accepted in a stereotypically cold and cutthroat industry. Attending the career forum helped reaffirm my interests in finance and made me more likely to pursue a career in the field.