Today’s featured volunteer is Elijah Levine, a rising junior at the Wharton School of Business who is currently taking a gap year to work as a Real Estate Investment, Business Strategy, and PropTech Analyst at Bridge Investment Group. Elijah recently talked with First Generation Investors about his childhood adventures in investing, longtime dedication to expanding financial education and literacy, and excitement about FGI’s work, including a recent project in which he helped bring high-profile speakers to the FGI community.
Describe the first time you made an investment.
My father, Noah, taught me about investing. I was lucky enough to grow up in a household with both of my parents, and where my parents were extremely supportive and wanted me to succeed. As my dad is a longtime financial advisor, he would always stress the importance of long-term investing and compound interest. However, it wasn’t until I made my first investment that I truly came to understand both of these concepts. When I was probably 12 or 13, my dad told me that he had been investing in Google for quite some time. He explained to me why it was such a good company and how Google has and will continue to change the lives of many people, stressing the democratization of information. I was easily convinced that Google was a great company to buy into, but more importantly, the experience helped me understand the value of long term thinking when making an investment. When I finally made the purchase (under his guidance), it felt like something much bigger than just purchasing shares in a company, it felt like I was joining a movement, a movement that was making a real positive impact on the world.
How did you get involved with First Generation Investors?
I heard about FGI through my friend, Josh Baek, and I knew instantly what a special organization it was. After taking a couple of business classes in high school, I was astonished by and frustrated with the lack of financial education that takes place across the country, so my friend Jack and I started working on an app (which was never fully built) to bring a financial literacy program to young people throughout the country. When I came to UPenn and Josh first told me about FGI, I knew that I wanted to get involved immediately. I loved the idea of providing actual money for the students to invest; I know that when my dad first started teaching me about investing, it was difficult to get excited and focused until I learned using actual money. After my first FGI meeting, I could feel the passion of all the other team members, and I became even more excited to work on such an important mission.
What have you found most rewarding about your time in FGI?
I have found many different aspects of my work with FGI to be very rewarding. However, working on the Speaker Series last summer was something that I felt was especially rewarding. As an example, I helped with the marketing for a talk given by David Magerman, legendary quant investor and personal hero of mine. I had read and heard about Mr. Magerman for many years, so it was surreal being in a position where I was across the screen from him with only 20 other students on the call, I can’t imagine how some of the other audience members felt! Thinking about the work we did specifically with the Speaker Series, it makes me proud to know that we have connections to some of the most incredible people on the planet and that we are helping bring them to the people who have the most to benefit from them. Just one of the countless examples of why FGI is such a unique and remarkable organization.
Do you have a favorite memory of working with First Generation Investors?
My favorite memories of working with FGI are typically from my time on the marketing team. Being on the front lines engaging with our members, tutors, donors, and students opens your eyes to the real impact that we are making. I have also enjoyed strategizing on and curating creative partnerships between FGI and other outside organizations. I look forward to making more memories with all the incredible people in the FGI community and working directly with students as a tutor once I arrive back on Penn’s campus in the fall.