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Is joining my college’s investment club worthwhile?

Some clubs will have more impact on your life than others, investment clubs fall into the former category. Colleges do not generally offer classes on investing and personal finance so a club can be a great place to network with like-minded people.

The primary aim of a college investment club is to educate you about investments, the stock market and personal finance. You will also gain knowledge on trading and build up a good network of contacts. Many clubs offer training on how to select stocks, and even have you investing real money on occasion.

The club may categorize the stock market and assign different sectors and industries to groups for further research. This way you learn how interrelated stocks respond to markets changes.

Speakers from the industry may be invited to make presentations at the club, providing insight from professionals. For example, the complex world of FOREX trading is a $3-trillion daily market and critical for prospective young investors. Attending these group meetings generates a powerful network to garner business cards and contacts from those in the trade. Possible internship opportunities may also arise and you can reach out to the network when applying for jobs in banking and finance.

Note that the club does not control your money, only you can decide whether to invest or not. You must take charge of your own financial choices. Investing often means going against the group and making your own decisions.

The college investment club is complementary to your degree, and will provide real world experience. Indiana University for example offers stock market simulations at their investment club. Hands-on portfolio management can be another perk to club membership. Some clubs can even serve as a boot camp for Wall Street.

Investment clubs are usually student run and aimed at undergraduates, often supervised by an independent faculty advisor. Some clubs have complex screening processes, while other welcome all participants.

At the University of Delaware for example the Blue Hen Investment Club requires a resume and interview. This high-flying club is run by an executive committee, has an annual report and a class every semester. It manages a $1.8 million portfolio.

Some clubs offer structured training and certification where students can learn by investing. Tutoring services are offered to members of the Harvard MBA’s Club. There are investment dinners where members exchange ideas and the highlight is an annual trip to visit Warren Buffet.

Boston University’s Finance and Investment Club has an annual Wall Street trip which includes networking with alumni and visiting financial companies. Some college investment clubs focus on specific areas and sectors, others are more socially oriented with hands-on activities, events and meetings.

All of these clubs provide investing experience and are worthwhile for anyone considering a career in finance.

Successful investing is anticipating the anticipations of others…

John Maynard Keynes.

Written by Suzanne Hite, former publications editor serving the technology services sector.

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