After getting a master’s degree in finance at Florida International University’s (FIU) College of Business and completing several internships, Sofia Bitela (MSF ’10, MSHRD ’08) thought it was time to strike out on her own. From her experience transitioning from the university into the workplace, she saw how important it was to be proficient in the hands-on analytical skills employers were looking for. To meet this need, she created Wall Street to Main Street, with then-classmate Joshua Emory (MIB ’10), now an investment banker. The firm teaches discounted cash flow and other financial modeling skills that companies look for in potential financial analysts.
As one of the first students to participate in FIU’s Student Managed Investment Fund (SMIF), Bitela credits the experience with giving her a real-world perspective on investing. In addition to teaching classes on campus, she now returns to FIU as a member of the SMIF Advisory Board, and visits Finance and Real Estate Department faculty member Helen Simon’s class to share her perspective.
“A lot of what I’ve gained comes from FIU and SMIF,” Bitela said. “What I teach is not in the traditional academic curriculum. There’s not a separate financial modeling course. They will be applying the accounting and financing concepts they learn to what they will be doing on the job, and our course helps them.”
Speakers provide insights into the next step after graduation.
In helping them prepare for the world of work, “I tell students to be persistent, realistic and understand your strengths and weaknesses,” Bitela said. “If you know yourself, you’ll recognize the perfect job when it comes your way.”
Simon said that in addition to providing training for her students, Bitela offered an insight into what life is like as an entrepreneur.
“Students need to know that sometimes, you can make your own niche instead of being hired,” Simon said.
Bitela’s visit is part of an ongoing effort to provide students with a perspective on career options after graduation. During the fall semester, Simon’s class also heard from members of the Financial Planning Association of Miami, and representatives from Bloomberg, Wells Fargo Advisors, Cross Keys Capital, State Farm, JP Morgan and Cumberland Advisors.