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From Tiny Suburb to the Big City: University of Chicago Brings Boston Sophomore to the Joyce Foundation for Investments Internship


7/26/2018

By Lilly Athamanah, Communications Specialist

The clicks on the keyboard. The scratch of the pen. The muffle through the headphones. The sip of coffee.

These motions are all too familiar to the college student, especially rising University of Chicago (UChicago) sophomore Neha Kavi. Kavi grew up in a tiny suburb just outside of Boston, making her way to the big city of Chicago for college – a city she has come to love.

When deciding on colleges not too long ago, UChicago stood out to Kavi as a place where love of learning and engagement in interesting conversations were in abundance. Though unsure of what her area of study would be, she finally settled on a major in Economics with minors in Statistics and the Visual Arts. She originally debated the Neuroscience major, but curiosity and her father’s encouragement regarding economics won out. Kavi chose to minor in Statistics to complement the mathematics needed for the program, and added balance and variety with the Visual Arts since she loves to draw.

“When I told my parents I wanted to major in economics, their response was positive. My Dad recommended I read One Up on Wall Street by Peter Lynch, one of his favorite books,” says Kavi. “I grudgingly agreed, assuming I would be bored within minutes, but ended up flying through the book and enjoying every minute of it.”

The concepts of economics and its applications to real world situations fascinated Kavi – the field would not only provide flexibility in terms of future career aspirations, but it was also something she could see and tangibly grasp in the environment around her every day.

 “After learning about the efficient market hypothesis in class, reading about how people can—though rarely—consistently beat the market seemed almost magical to me,” she recalls. “I applied to and was accepted into the Blue Chips, a value investing club at UChicago. There, I learned the fundamentals of investing and have since helped put together a stock pitch for the club's portfolio, and though the stock was not bought, the learning process was incredible.”

With a solid foundation built for her investments interests, Kavi took advantage of a beneficial opportunity to be a part of the John W. Rogers Program at UChicago – which matched her to the Joyce Foundation and McCormick Foundation for four-week internships with each organization this summer. The program aims to encourage diverse groups of students to explore and consider careers in investments. Six months in for Kavi, the program has provided a great support system and has been an educational resource, offering great mentorship and workshop opportunities for students to learn more about a field not commonly talked about before college.

At Joyce, Kavi showed enthusiasm and sincere interest in the investment side of the organization, learning the importance of asset allocation in generating sufficient returns, the benefits of time arbitrage that endowment investment strategies have over others, and how absolute returns can add diversification to portfolios.

“It’s been a great experience so far with the Joyce and McCormick foundations. My favorite part has been meeting with investment managers, as it has exposed me to the vastness of asset management and the many niches and levels of involvement managers can have with the companies in which they invest,” says Kavi.

Jenny Patterson, Chief Investment Officer at the Joyce Foundation, remarks, “It was a pleasure to work with Neha this summer. Her intelligence and strong work ethic made her an asset to the investment department, particularly her work in building the Foundation’s first database of our investment managers’ diversity employment practices.”

Reflecting on her time at the Joyce Foundation this summer, Kavi says:

“There are so many ways our community can improve, and foundations are fundamental in instituting that change. Giving back is something I have both enjoyed and felt it was my civic responsibility to do. While I do not know yet what my career will hold or what my involvement will exactly be, I do intend to have some involvement in philanthropy in order to help continue to improve our society in any way I can.”

Neha Kavi will return to UChicago this fall to begin her sophomore year. Outside of class and the library, you can find her in a cafe, exploring downtown, or challenging her friends to a competitive match of pool. To the welcomed eye-rolls of her friends, you may even hear Neha utter the phrase: “Don’t worry about it - it’s a sunk cost!”