Real Estate & Finance Alliance (REFA) Mentorship Profiles

REFA Mentees

Finance 

Nikolai Bottitta


Class Year: Class of 2020

School: The George Washington University, 

Graduation Date: May 2020

Degree and Concentration(s): Bachelor of Science in Finance, Bachelor of Science in
Statistics, and Minor in Sustainability

Career Interest(s): Financial Services, Wealth Management

  1. How do you hope to benefit from and contribute to the REFA Mentorship Program?

I hope to simultaneously benefit from, and contribute to, the REFA mentorship program by
working side-by- side with other mentees, pushing each other to the next level. From practicing
behavioral and technical questions, to introducing each other to professionals in our network,
we can help each other reach our respective pinnacles. Beyond the mentees, I hope to learn
from alumni in order to accelerate my learning curve. After the recruiting process concludes, I
hope to share these experiences and the experiences of our mentors with the next REFA class,
which will feature some of GW’s most intelligent and driven students.

2. What action steps have prepared you to pursue a career in real estate or finance?

The initial steps that propelled me into financial services includes joining the Finance and
Investments Club, Delta Sigma Pi (a professional fraternity), and the DC Real Estate and
Finance Alliance. Through these experiences I was able to speak with peers, and ultimately
finding my passion for financial services. Since then, I have met with professionals in the
industry to hear about their experiences, resulting in strong interests in investment banking and
wealth management. My double-major in finance and statistics and my minor is sustainability, on
top of my multinational background, equip me with diverse perspectives I hope to leverage
during my career.

 

Suzanne Dannheim


School: The George Washington University, School of Business

Graduation Date: May 2020

Degree and Concentration(s): Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in
Finance, Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

Career Interest(s): Sales and Trading, Investment Banking

1. How do you hope to benefit from and contribute to the REFA Mentorship Program?

I am looking forward to working with my peers and peer mentors to build my financial knowledge
and prepare for one of the most competitive job markets. REFA represents a community of
students who are willing to support and assist one another towards a common goal. I believe I
will benefit from this assistance while providing to my peers.

 

2. What action steps have prepared you to pursue a career in real estate or finance?

This fall, I have taken multiple trips to New York to hold informational interviews with GW alumni
working across a variety of top performing banks. Meeting these alumni has helped me to build
a network; they have introduced me to non-GW colleagues and friends at other banks. In
addition, I have applied to internships in finance alongside my independent studies, all of which
in preparation for a career in finance.

 

Caitlin O'Brien


School: The George Washington University,

Graduation Date: May 2020

Degree and Concentration(s): Bachelor of Science in Finance, Bachelor of Arts in Economics

Career Interest(s): Sales & Trading

1. How do you hope to benefit from and contribute to the REFA Mentorship Program?

Having the opportunity to be paired with mentors who have recently undergone the internship
recruitment process, as well as those currently working in the industry, is truly invaluable and I
look forward to learning from their advice and insights. Likewise, I strive to work alongside an
ambitious and driven group of people like the REFA members, who will help my motivation and
encourage me to do better. I plan to contribute towards this effort and give back by helping and
supporting other members in the way that I have been so grateful to receive.

2. What action steps have prepared you to pursue a career in real estate or finance?

Finance has been a passion of mine and I have taken many steps to learn more about this
complex and evolving industry. I have chosen to pursue the B.S. in Finance and Economics in
order to obtain the necessary technical skills, which will be complemented by overall economic
trends. Furthermore, I have taken advantage of GWSB's Capital Markets Room and have
become Bloomberg Certified. Talking with professionals has allowed me to gain a better
understanding of specific jobs within financial services and I look forward to further expanding
my network and learning from their experiences.

Vladimir Paredes


School: The George Washington University, 

Graduation Date: May 2020

Degree and Concentration(s): Bachelor of Science in Finance, Bachelor of Science in Economics

Career Interest(s): Financial Services

1. How do you hope to benefit from and contribute to the REFA Mentorship Program?

I benefit from REFA by learning from the other mentees’ experiences and advice, as well as the
REFA network that will better position me for a competitive summer internship. I contribute to
REFA by supporting my REFA class through bilateral feedback in interviewing, motivational
support through the recruiting process, and eventually preparation for future REFA classes once
I gain more experience in the industry.

2. What action steps have prepared you to pursue a career in real estate or finance?

Some action steps I have taken to prepare for a career in finance involve joining the Finance
and Investments Club, managing and monitoring my own personal securities trading account, in
addition to regular networking and interview preparation.

 

Clare Park


Class Year: Class of 2020

School: The George Washington University,

Graduation Date: May 2020

Degree and Concentration(s): Bachelors of Arts in Economics and Political Science

Career Interest(s): Equity Research

1. How do you hope to benefit from and contribute to the REFA Mentorship Program?

Since I do not come from a traditional finance track, REFA will provide me with access to
resources in order to learn more about the finance industry, expand my network, and pursue my
career goals in finance. I hope that, as I learn and gain experience, I am able to give more back
and also provide a new perspective based on the experiences as an double major in Economics
and Political Science.

2. What action steps have prepared you to pursue a career in real estate or finance?

I discovered an interest in finance early on in my college experience despite not knowing exactly
what it was that I wanted to pursue. I joined the Women in Finance (WIFA) and the professional
business organization Delta Sigma Pi (DSP). As I spoke to people and learned more about the
finance industry, I realized I wanted to pursue a career in it. I have taken finance and accounting
courses out of interest, but now they serve as my basis of knowledge for pursuing my career
goals.

Real Estate

 Zachyriah Boussatta


School: The George Washington University, School of Business

Graduation Date: May 2020

Degree and Concentration(s): Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in Real
Estate

Career Interest(s): Portfolio Management

  1. How do you hope to benefit from and contribute to the REFA Mentorship Program?

I hope to benefit from the REFA program by expanding my network while also learning more
about the various career paths that can be taken within the real estate industry. I also hope to
gain valuable networking skills, which can then be directly applied to this industry by constantly
checking in with my mentors and mentees to ensure I am getting the most out of this
experience. I will be able to contribute my leadership and team building abilities to make my
REFA class as close as possible, while also giving back to the program when I am an alumni.

 

  1. What action steps have prepared you to pursue a career in real estate or finance?

This current and past semester, I have conducted multiple informational interviews and phone
calls with GW and non GW alumni to gain insight into the real estate industry. Furthermore, I
recently completed a finance internship where I gained valuable analytical and mathematical
skills which will be used in my real estate career. As a real estate major, I will use the
knowledge gained in my diverse range of classes to my fullest advantage.

 

Jordi Halle


School: The George Washington University, School of Business

Graduation Date: May 2020

Degree and Concentration(s): Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in Real
Estate

Career Interest(s): Capital Markets, Real Estate Investment Sales, Acquisitions

  1. How do you hope to benefit from and contribute to the REFA Mentorship Program?

Through the REFA program, I hope to gain access to the GW’s extensive real estate
community. The REFA community will help me build up my knowledge about the industry and to
expand my professional network. In terms of contributing to the REFA program, I hope to share
my knowledge gained through this program and become a resource to driven students who
want to enter the real estate field in the future.

  1. What action steps have prepared you to pursue a career in real estate or finance?

I have been able to meet a lot of business professionals within the real estate industry through
my participation in the DC REFA program. By meeting industry professionals, I have learned a
lot about the diverse ways of entering the industry, and what it takes to succeed. I have learned
a lot about how the real estate industry works as a whole, but also how each sector relates to
each other, and what different opportunities can be found within each sector.

Joseph Manzo


Class Year: Class of 2020

School: The George Washington University, School of Business

Graduation Date: May 2020

Degree and Concentration(s): Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance with a
Concentration in Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Career Interest(s): Real Estate Asset Management, Development, and Acquisitions

1. How do you hope to benefit from and contribute to the REFA Mentorship Program?

As a student who is highly interested in commercial real estate and motivated to learn more
about the industry, the REFA Mentorship Program will give me the opportunity to further
develop my knowledge of commercial real estate and connect me with a community of like-
minded industry professionals. I intend to give back my expertise to REFA in every capacity. By
providing my knowledge and background, I hope to encourage and empower my fellow REFA
members and the REFA program as a whole.

2. What action steps have prepared you to pursue a career in real estate or finance?

With technical knowledge in real estate software programs and a background in
entrepreneurship, I have prepared myself to provide a very dynamic, people oriented, and
problem-solver mentality that will differentiate me in the real estate industry.

Riccardo Monteverdi


School: The George Washington University, 

Graduation Date: May 2020

Degree and Concentration(s): Bachelor of Science in Finance, Bachelor of Arts in International
Affairs

Career Interest(s): Real Estate

1. How do you hope to benefit from and contribute to the REFA Mentorship Program?

REFA is the platform on which I would like to learn more about the real estate industry and
market myself. REFA provides industry specific networking opportunities that will eventually
help me find employment that reflects my values both as a professional and as an individual. In
the future, I hope to add value to the already brilliant group of REFA students by offering
guidance and advice similar to what I am receiving now from other REFA students and the
greater REFA community.

2. What action steps have prepared you to pursue a career in real estate or finance?

Real estate has always held a strong pull in my heart due to my father’s presence within the
industry. I have always been intrigued by matters of economics and made it a priority to stay
informed. Beyond my knowledge of the quantitative aspects of the real estate business, my
greatest strengths lies in my communication skills and my willingness to continuously learn and
improve.

Max Walder


Class Year: Class of 2020

School: The George Washington University, School of Business

Graduation Date: May 2020

Degree and Concentration(s): Bachelors of Business Administration with a concentration in Real
Estate

Career Interest(s): Real Estate, Finance, Architecture

  1. How do you hope to benefit from and contribute to the REFA Mentorship Program?

I hope to put myself in position to succeed and leave GW with a career I fully enjoy. I look
forward to learning from current mentors as well as helping future mentees discover their
passions.

  1. What action steps have prepared you to pursue a career in real estate or finance?

The importance of networking has become even more apparent throughout the application
process. I look forward to strengthening my network in order to better leverage myself for a
career in real estate. In addition, I would like to further my technical skills with both Argus and
Excel in order to stand out from a large pool of qualified applicants. I am going to get my
brokerage license. From there, I am hoping to start my career with residential brokerage.

Finance - Class of 2019

Yonatan_Kintzer_REFAYonatan Kintzer


Class Year: Class of 2019

School: The George Washington University, Elliott School of International Affairs

Graduation Date: May 2019

Degree and Concentration(s): Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs with a Minor in Environmental Studies

Career Interest(s): Asset Management, Investment Banking

  1. How do you hope to benefit from and contribute to the REFA Mentorship Program?

I am eager to begin making connections and networking with GW Alumni on Wall Street with the REFA program. I want to learn from my mentor’s past work experiences, and create relationships which will provide me with invaluable professional guidance, as I shape my experiences and education to be competitive in the job market. As a Sophomore who has completed coursework in Economics, Statistics, and Accounting, I look forward to participating in the REFA program and gaining an invaluable opportunity to jump start my career in New York. As I plan to work in the financial industry, through this program, I hope to gain an insider perspective of the industry, connect with my mentors, and to secure an internship for next summer.

2. What action steps have prepared you to pursue a career in real estate or finance?

I have participated in the DC REFA program and have taken coursework relevant to the financial industry along with gaining experience as a financial consultant during the past year.  I have worked hard to build my business skills that will help me to launch a successful career on Wall Street.

 

Luis_Polanco_REFALuis Polanco


LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/luisfpolanco/

School: The George Washington University, School of Business

Graduation Date: May 2019

Degree and Concentration(s): BBA: Finance and Business Analytics; Minor: Statistics

Career Interest(s): Investment Banking, Sales and Trading, Actuarial Sciences

1. How do you hope to benefit from and contribute to the REFA Mentorship Program?

The REFA program is an incredible importunity to expand my network and learn from professionals in the financial sector. I hope to utilize the resources the program offers to accelerate my learning curve and to interact with as many people as possible in the field I want to pursue. I hope to contribute to the REFA program by sharing my experience on networking with individuals from different backgrounds and countries, and to share my knowledge on the different fields that I learned from my past work experiences.

 

2. What action steps have prepared you to pursue a career in real estate or finance?

The combination of my leadership and professional experiences has prepared me to pursue a career in finance. During my leadership experiences in GWSB, I was able to develop communication skills that will be extremely helpful during the application process. During my past internship at Ficohsa Group, the leading financial institution of Honduras, I was able to acquire strong analytical and time management skills. Finally, readings the news and following the markets has proven to be an essential part of my preparation as it gives me the knowledge needed to understand how the financial field functions.

 

Grant_Smith_REFAGrant Smith


LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/grantsmithgwu/

School: The George Washington University, School of Business

Graduation Date: May 2019

Degree and Concentration(s): Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance and Accounting

Career Interest(s): Wealth and Asset Management

1. How do you hope to benefit from and contribute to the REFA Mentorship Program?

I hope to benefit from the REFA program by connecting with the vast alumni network, current REFA members, and the program’s supervisors to prepare myself for a future internship. By taking advantage of these opportunities, I hope to further develop my understanding of finance and gather crucial skills needed to start a career on Wall Street. As an alum, I want to expand the presence of REFA Mentees and ultimately GW students on Wall Street by giving back to the program in the way current alumni have been.

2. What action steps have prepared you to pursue a career in real estate or finance?

 

I have geared my concentrations, finance and accounting, and my minors, economics and statistics, specifically to prepare myself for the competitiveness of Wall Street. My time as a research intern at Di Renzo Realty has furthered my skills of analysis, communication, and time management which I hope to leverage in an internship and ultimately a career in asset management.

Rafael SosaRafael Sosa


LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rafael-fernando-sosa-azpurua-28842010a/

School: The George Washington University, School of Business

Graduation Date: May 2019

Degree and Concentration(s): BBA in Finance and Economics.

Career Interest(s): Investment Banking (Latam)

1. How do you hope to benefit from and contribute to the REFA Mentorship Program?

I was introduced to REFA early on in my college career by my friend Nicholas Groomes. He spoke very highly of REFA and encouraged me to look into it and apply to the program. I believe that REFA is a family that is here to help guide us through this process until eventually securing an Internship. Once we as Mentees have done so it becomes our duty to assist those that come after us as those above us did for us. I plan on using REFA alumni program in order to network with as many people as I can. I plan to do so in a way that expands my network and also elevates the REFA brand. I believe that I will rely on the current seniors greatly in order to learn about their internship experiences.

2. What action steps have prepared you to pursue a career in real estate or finance?

From speaking with a number of industry professionals about what it takes to “break into Wall Street,” I learned several things I could do in order to become a suitable candidate. I took as many finance courses as early as possible. During the first semester of my sophomore year, I completed BADM 3501, which is a prerequisite to all upper level finance courses. This allowed me to take Intermediate Finance and Portfolio Management Strategy during the spring semester. I have now completed the majority of the requirements for the Finance concentration with a Minor in Economics. I have focused on maintaining a high GPA while keeping up with the markets and taking advantage of the WSO to better prepare for interviews. Finally, I have sought out relevant internships, networked on my own, and began developing professional contacts in the financial services industry.

 

Alexander_Ward_REFAAlexander Ward


LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexander-ward-b6367510b/

Class Year: Class of 2019

School: The George Washington University, School of Business

Graduation Date: May 2019

Degree and Concentration(s): Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance and Accounting and Minor in Psychology

Career Interest(s): Sales and Trading, Asset Management

1. How do you hope to benefit from and contribute to the REFA Mentorship Program?

I hope to benefit from the REFA Mentorship Program by accumulating knowledge about the financial services industry. I am excited to learn from alumni in the industry who have a high level of understanding in a career path I plan to pursue, and will leverage this privilege to excel in the field of Finance. In terms of contributing, I hope to turn around in the future, and bestow the understanding I personally have acquired in order to help a new aspiring REFA mentee to achieve his or her future goals.

2. What action steps have prepared you to pursue a career in real estate or finance?

I believe my additional educational background in both Psychology and Accounting have helped me prepare for my career in Finance. Looking at the industry from a different angle gives me a valuable advantage, as I have accumulated an understanding of significant topics embedded in Finance such as human behavior and in-depth Financial Statement analysis. This alternative perspective, accompanied by my efforts to stay informed on relevant market activities and trends, positions me to be successful in the industry. 


Real Estate

Nicholas_Celani_REFANicholas Celani


LinkedIn Profile: www.linkedin.com/in/nicholascelani

School: The George Washington University, School of Business

Graduation Date: May 2019

Degree and Concentration(s): Bachelor of Accountancy

Career Interest(s): Real Estate Investment Sales, Capital Markets, Development, Acquisitions

  1. How do you hope to benefit from and contribute to the REFA Mentorship Program?

 

I believe the networking opportunities are one of the biggest benefits of participating in the REFA program. I will reach out to as many alumni as I can to learn about different internship opportunities and find the right fit. I hope to contribute by helping other members obtain internships and knowledge that I gain from networking. We will all be learning about the different aspects of real estate and networking, and it will be very important to share what we learn with each other.

 

  1. What action steps have prepared you to pursue a career in real estate or finance?

Through my membership in the DC REFA, I have had the opportunity to have two real estate mentors. I have learned a lot about The JBG Companies and a smaller brokerage firm and how they operate. This experience confirmed my interest in real estate, and I am ready to work very hard to obtain an internship. I have also gone through the basics of ARGUS DCF and have been working on advancing my Excel skills.

 

Eric Kanegaye


LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ericgkanegaye/

School: The George Washington University, School of Business

Graduation Date: May 2019

Degree and Concentration(s): Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance

Career Interest(s): Development and Asset Management, Financial Analysis/Underwriting

  1. How do you hope to benefit from and contribute to the REFA Mentorship Program?

I hope to engage in the established and strong real estate community within GW. Through that, I hope to not only secure and develop a strong real estate career and presence for myself, but then pass my knowledge on to the next group of real estate driven students. Another one of my long term goals is to become a resource in the future to the REFA students who want to venture out to the west coast for real estate.

  1. What action steps have prepared you to pursue a career in real estate or finance?

This past semester I’ve been conducting numerous informational interviews and reaching out to professionals in the industry. Additionally, I’ve taken an intro course for Argus and multiple Excel classes to advance my modeling skills. My upperclassmen peers have been an unbelievable resource, and Rob Valero has been amazing, setting up informative real estate events. Another helpful step I took that really pointed me in the right direction was participating in the D.C. real estate trek, which gave great insight to multiple functions within the industry. Lastly, reading up on current events as well as books related to real estate has been helpful as well.

Jordan_PopofskyJordan Popofsky


Class Year: Class of 2019

School: The George Washington University, Columbian College of Arts & Sciences

Graduation Date: May 2019

Degree and Concentration(s): Bachelor of Arts in Political Science

Career Interest(s): Real Estate Development

1. How do you hope to benefit from and contribute to the REFA Mentorship Program?

I hope to benefit from the REFA Mentorship Program by building both my knowledge and information base, learning about the real estate industry and its many sectors. I plan on making the most of meetings with both my mentors and the mentors of my fellow participants in order to absorb as much knowledge as possible, while also making connections with both my peers and the alumni that will last. I plan to contribute in the future as an alumni mentor myself, and I hope I can provide the same kind of guidance and insight to a REFA mentee that I know my mentors this year will provide to me.

2. What action steps have prepared you to pursue a career in real estate or finance?

As a political science major originally interested in a different career path, over the past year and a half I have become passionate about the real estate world. I have reached out to dozens of professionals within the real estate field, and I have conducted informational interviews with people in multiple sectors of the business, with developers and brokers, as well as more niche professionals. I do not see my non-business school major to be an externality, in fact I see it as an advantage. I think it provides a very different perspective in the field I am pursuing, and I think this difference in thinking can lend an edge.

Andrew_Snelson_REFAAndrew Snelson


LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrewsnelson1/

School: The George Washington University, School of Business

Graduation Date: May 2019

Degree and Concentration(s): Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance

Career Interest(s): Real Estate Development, Acquisitions, and Investment

1. How do you hope to benefit from and contribute to the REFA Mentorship Program?

A big point that is made in nearly every conversation I’ve had regarding real estate is that it’s not just what you know, it’s who you know. Pairing the incredible learning experience REFA provides with the vast and quality alumni network takes care of both knowing and being known. Having a community of likeminded professionals will be an amazing support system that I don’t take for granted. My contribution to the REFA program will be my enthusiasm and creativity. Taking the initiative to organize or push for certain events are not out of my scope of impact. Beyond my undergraduate career, building bridges with students behind me and helping in pulling them up would be a great and meaningful to give back to a program from which I hope to gain so much.

2. What action steps have prepared you to pursue a career in real estate or finance?

This past academic year has been an intense learning experience in all things real estate. Whether it be taking an 8-hour pro forma modelling webinar, or working with Ditto Residential to present a lecture on the co-living trend, immersing myself in all things real estate has paid dividends and set me up for future success down the road.

Philip_Yellen_REFAPhillip Yellen


LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/phillip-yellen/

Class Year: Class of 2019

School: The George Washington University, School of Business

Graduation Date: May 2019

Degree and Concentration(s): Bachelor of Accountancy

Career Interest(s): Real Estate Investment Sales, Capital Markets, Opportunistic Investing, and Internal Accounting

  1. How do you hope to benefit from and contribute to the REFA Mentorship Program?

I hope to benefit by learning from and becoming close with the peers in my REFA class and competing against them in a friendly manner. I also hope to meet as many professionals as possible to expand my network and learn from industry experts.

  1. What action steps have prepared you to pursue a career in real estate or finance?

I was a member of the DC REFA and discovered my passion for real estate in that program. I have learned from my senior peers about their real estate internship experience and conducted informational interviews with professionals from all different sectors of the industry.