Chelsea Clinton had big plans for the weekend: There was a brunch to host for her father, a gala at Manhattan's American Museum of Natural History and a Rolling Stones concert to attend. Still, when her new boss asked her to travel to Texas for work the very weekend of her dad's big 60th-birthday bash, she didn't hesitate to hop on a plane (after the brunch) without a word of complaint. "That's typical of Chelsea," says family friend Alan Patricof. "She's putting her career ahead of very attractive social invitations."

Though Chelsea Clinton has access to some of the hottest tickets in town, she seems more interested, as one friend put it, in "carving her career path"—and that path recently took a new direction. In mid-October, the 26-year-old former First Daughter joined Avenue Capital Group, a hedge fund run by major Democratic contributors Marc Lasry and Sonia Gardner. Why the switch? Though Clinton hasn't revealed her salary, insiders estimate she will easily double her six-figure starting pay at her old job, as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company. The new job also involves less travel, giving Clinton more time for hometown pursuits: gym, shopping—and boyfriend (see box). "She's hardworking," says a former Hillary aide, "but she likes to enjoy herself too."