Name: Megan Belmonte ‘17
Position: Senior Financial Analyst at The Walt Disney Company
Degree: B.S. Accounting; B.S. Business Administration
Why did you choose this industry/field?
The great thing about the Argyros School of Business and Economics is the diverse course requirement which exposes you to a wide array of fields. In fact, the required courses from the business school led to my interest in accounting and finance. My interest in accounting was piqued in Professor Hank Adler’s Introduction to Financial Accounting course. (Hi Professor Adler if you’re reading this.) I enjoyed the content of the class and was inspired by his career to pursue a similar path. I also loved Professor Matt Munson’s Intermediate Finance course. Many people think finance is kind of nebulous, but he has an amazing way of showing how financial data is one of the main resources to contextualize a business. These courses, along with others, planted the seeds that would eventually lead to my path in Public Accounting and subsequently, Operational Finance and FP&A.
How did you strategize to get your career to where it is today?
I interned at PwC after my junior year and was fortunate enough to work in their audit practice after graduating. I wanted to start my career in a client-facing field that would expose me to a lot very quickly. My time at PwC allowed me to identify elements of business that interested me most, while also giving me a considerable skill set in a short amount of time.
I realized my desire to pivot to finance while working at PwC. The part of auditing I enjoyed most was talking to people who worked within the operations of the business who could add context to our financial statement flux analysis. The financial analysis aspect fascinated me more than any other part of the job, so I sought out people who worked in the specific field of finance I work in now, which led me to my current role at The Walt Disney Company.
This role has been great because, in addition to the analytical aspects of the job, I get to work with people from different departments outside of our finance group – marketing, product management, sales, etc. It is exciting for me to see multiple elements of the business work together and to interact with a diverse range of people on a daily basis. I enjoy my current role because I zeroed in on the parts of my previous jobs and coursework that I liked the most and found a role tailored to those interests.
Any career advice for current students entering into the industry in this job market?
- Talk to people who work in the industries you would like to work in. The most invaluable thing I learned as a student at Chapman was learning to expand and maintain my network. Seek out Chapman alum, ask your professors to introduce you to their colleagues, and talk to as many people as you can.
- Have a mentor who is 5-10 years ahead of you in what you would like to do. They can help you “navigate the grey” which is extremely helpful when just learning to stand at the start of your career.
- Having a long-term plan is great, but it is also important to check in with yourself periodically. If there is anything I’ve learned since graduating, it is the importance of looking around once in a while and asking, “is this still what I want to be doing?” It is perfectly fine to call an audible and change directions to something else.
How did getting your degree from Chapman set you up for success on your career path?
Chapman professors actively work in or are retired from their fields, which adds a lot of color to their lectures and coursework. Not only did my professors pass on a lot of practical knowledge to my peers and me, but I can’t remember a single business professor who wasn’t willing to introduce me to a colleague if I asked.
I heavily leveraged the Argyros School Career Services office – it is an amazing resource to bridge the gap between school and the working world. If you’re really passionate about finding a job after you graduate, I’d highly suggest making use of this resource. Leverage the people in this office to help you connect to the industries and companies you want to work in since they usually have direct contact with employers and can act as a liaison.