Jamie Rizzo ‘97 claims the real world experiences the Belk College of Business provided were helpful in preparing him for his current job in New York City. His advice for students: “follow what you are passionate about… choose the career that you will be excited to wake up to for the next 30 years.”
What led you to pursue a graduate degree at UNC Charlotte?
There are two reasons I chose to pursue a graduate degree at UNC Charlotte. I planned on studying finance so I wanted to be in a major banking city like Charlotte. Also, I received a teaching assistantship position that helped pay for a large portion of my tuition.
What were some of the highlights from your program experience?
The entire experience was excellent. It was a well-rounded program that touched on all areas of business: marketing, strategy, finance, and operations. We also consistently had local business leaders come in and speak to us.
What was your first job after graduation?
I was a financial analyst for First Union National Bank (now part of Wells Fargo).
How has your degree helped you advance in your career?
The MBA program was the starting point for my entire career. It was my entrée into the corporate finance world and allowed me to eventually land a great job in New York City.
What lessons have you learned from your degree that you are able to apply on the job?
The corporate strategy class was filled with lessons around decision making that are applicable every day in my job. A big part of the course was teaching us how to make decisions that might not always be the best option, but are good enough when considered in conjunction with a deadline that needs to be met. You assess each situation, make a thoughtful decision and then move on because inevitably there is another decision looming right around the corner for you to make!
What aspect of the Belk College of Business best prepared you for your career?
All of the presentations throughout the curriculum provided me with the best preparation for my career. I have held several jobs since graduation, but all of them have a common requirement of presenting and fielding difficult questions. For my final capstone course, we got to consult with a local Charlotte business and make a presentation to their executive committee. Those types of real world experiences were extremely helpful in preparing me for my career.
What advice do you have for current Belk College students?
From a learning perspective, be analytically curious, always investigate how and why things occur.
From a career perspective, follow what you are passionate about. Whether it is developing creative marketing campaigns, investing in the stock market, closing a sale, managing relationships, financial modeling or streamlining an operational process - choose the career that you will be excited to wake up to for the next 30 years.
Are you engaged in the business community outside of work? Which organization or activities?
I am a member of the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute and the New York Society for Securities Analysts. I also play a role in mentoring young professionals through our internship program and at one of the local NYC colleges.
Jamie has also authored a book, The Ultimate Career Guide for Business Majors, and provided copies for our Buiness Honors and Business Learning Community students.