Macalester students invest in their future

The Macalester Investment Group may not be one of the flashiest student orgs on campus, but it is certainly one of the most useful. “Investment is a really important skill to have. It’s so relevant—whether you want to work in finance or for a nonprofit, whatever you want to do, investing really is the backbone of creating funding,” Nadine Penkovsky ’16, a board member of MIG who has been involved for the past two years, said.

The organization has four major components. First, there is a focus on job preparation, with networking opportunities, resumé building and interview practice. Second, each club member has a simulated portfolio of $100,000, which they use to explore different methods of investment and compete with other members. Third, MIG educates its members about the different options for investment, from stocks and bonds to real estate and commodities.

The fourth component of MIG is perhaps the most well-known on campus. The org manages a portfolio of real money from alumni donations. The initial donation was $20,000, and in 10 years it has grown to about $40,000. “We have a template, and someone can pitch a stock to the group. Then the group will vote on whether we want to invest or not, and that is managed actively throughout the school year,” Penkovsky says. “MIG has been around for a while, but the real meat of it is this portfolio that we manage. The money was donated by Karl Egge [a former Macalester Economics professor], and he started it so that we could actually start managing money and get people exposed to that.”

Experience is not necessary for students who want to join MIG, noted Jose Caballero Ciciolli ’15, another board member. He had no formal experience in finance or investment before coming to Macalester, but he joined the club because he he was interested in the topics and wanted to see what upperclassmen were doing in terms of internships and job opportunities.

“Don’t be intimidated,” Caballero Ciciolli said to tell potential members. “We take a super educational approach in how we go about meetings. In every meeting, we start with a term of the day, have interview questions and try to provide a safe space for people to start thinking about these things and get some experience.” The club also maintains an online presence, posting Google docs so that students not able to attend a given meeting can keep up with new concepts.

Meetings are held on Wednesdays at 8 p.m., and most have an attendance of around 20 Macalester students. Conrad Lichty, an associate at CarVal Investors who used to work in hedge funds, spoke to the group a few weeks ago, and MIG often collaborates with Women in Economics and Mac Consulting Group to bring speakers to campus. “We’re also trying to expand it and to do Investing 101 or Finance 101, for people who want to just understand a very, very basic overview,” Penkovsky added. “But we’re not sure if the demand is there, and we would need more funding for it to actually go through.”

Ultimately, MIG is an investment in your life after Mac. “Learning these skills is so important, whatever you want to do. Learning these job, resumé and interview skills as well as how to make alumni connections is really important for life,” Penkovsky said. “We like to say that our focus is Mac Investment Group, but we also teach a lot of life skills so that you can graduate from Mac and feel confident in whatever you’re doing.”