Since its incep­tion in 2013, North­eastern University’s annual Col­le­giate Alter­na­tive Invest­ment Summit has attracted hun­dreds of stu­dents and inspired the cre­ation of a new course in hedge funds, real assets, and pri­vate equity.

The con­fer­ence is orga­nized by a group of stu­dents in the D’Amore-McKim School of Busi­ness, who work year-​​round to bring some of the industry’s biggest players to campus for talks, panel dis­cus­sions, and net­working ses­sions. Its goal is to bridge the gap between class­room edu­ca­tion and pro­fes­sional appli­ca­tion, according to summit co-​​presidents Rohan Venkatesh and Jake Fulton, both DMSB’16.

Alter­na­tives are a growing asset class around the world and have ties to what­ever any busi­ness stu­dent is studying,” Venkatesh explained. As Fulton put it, “Alter­na­tive invest­ments are becoming more and more pop­ular within port­fo­lios and have been making their way into the mainstream.”

The fourth annual conference—a two-​​day event for which the reg­is­tra­tion fee is $30—will be held on Friday and Sat­urday. Due to the summit team’s dili­gent work over the past 12 months, more than a dozen guest speakers will be pro­viding insight into their respec­tive fields, including Ryan Cotton, the man­aging director at Bain Cap­ital, Gary Bergstrom, founder of Aca­dian Asset Man­age­ment, and James Goodman, pres­i­dent of Gemini Investors.

The event will be divided into two parts. The first part—a panel-​​style Q&A with four D’Amore-McKim alumni working in the alter­na­tives space—will be held on Friday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Alumni Center. The dis­cus­sion will shed light on life in the alter­na­tive invest­ments sector, with a par­tic­ular focus on how the pan­elists broke into the industry. The second part—a series of talks and panel dis­cus­sions on topics ranging from ven­ture cap­ital to real estate investing—will be held on Sat­urday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in 20 West Vil­lage F.

Both panel dis­cus­sions will be mod­er­ated by Nicole Boyson, asso­ciate pro­fessor of finance and the summit’s fac­ulty advisor. She was so inspired by the suc­cess of past con­fer­ences that she launched an alter­na­tive invest­ments course this spring, designing dif­ferent ver­sions of the class for under­grad­uate and grad­uate stu­dents alike.

Based on the interest and atten­dance at the con­fer­ence, I knew that stu­dents would be inter­ested in a course on the topic,” said Boyson, a hedge fund expert. “I thought that a class cov­ering real assets, hedge funds, pri­vate equity, and struc­tured prod­ucts would be helpful for our stu­dents, because these areas are growing both in assets and in oppor­tu­ni­ties, and because I want stu­dents to have an in-​​depth under­standing of the alter­na­tives space.”

Fulton and Venkatesh noted that working to orga­nize the summit—and co-​​chairing other events, like the Seeking Alpha Stock Pitch Com­pe­ti­tion—have fur­ther moti­vated them to pursue careers in the finan­cial sector. Both stu­dents, who will grad­uate in May, have already lined up full-​​time jobs, Fulton as a wealth man­age­ment ana­lyst and Venkatesh as an invest­ment banking analyst.

Working on the summit fur­ther cul­ti­vated my inter­ests in the alter­na­tive invest­ments sector,” Venkatesh explained. “When I joined as a rising junior, I was still fig­uring out what I wanted to do and found that pri­vate equity was a very attrac­tive field.”

Noted Fulton: “Being part of this orga­ni­za­tion allowed me to grow as a stu­dent and a young pro­fes­sional. I’m bummed out that I have to grad­uate and pass this off.”