Navigating the intricate pathways of the finance industry requires more than just technical expertise—it demands resilience, adaptability, and a strong foundation forged through meaningful experiences. Valerie Chang, a distinguished alumna of Chapman University’s Argyros College of Business, exemplifies these qualities as she reflects on her transformative journey from undergraduate student to Trading Analyst at Aristotle Pacific Capital. In this blog post, we delve into Valerie’s Chapman experience, the pivotal role the university played in preparing her for the professional world, and the valuable lessons she’s learned along the way.

The Chapman Experience

Valerie’s journey from Chapman University to her current role is a testament to the transformative power of a comprehensive undergraduate experience. Reflecting on her time at Chapman, Valerie remarks, “My Chapman experience was unforgettable, rewarding, and life-changing.” She emphasizes the pivotal role the university played in shaping her career trajectory, highlighting the stellar course curriculum, experienced faculty, and diverse extracurricular activities that enriched her undergraduate years. “I had many opportunities to get involved with various student organizations and leadership roles. There is such a vibrant campus culture with numerous extracurricular options for students to choose from, making it extremely easy to form friendships and build community,” says Chang.

Valerie’s campus involvement, including her leadership roles in Alpha Kappa Psi and participation in the Chapman Student Ambassador program, equipped her with essential skills in networking, professionalism, and time management. She fondly recalls the supportive mentorship of influential professors like Fadel Lawandy, Dean Reginald Gilyard, and Wesley Oliphant, whose guidance left a lasting impact on her personal and professional growth.

Preparation for the Professional World

Valerie credits Chapman’s Argyros College of Business for providing her with an excellent foundation for her post-graduate career. She emphasizes the hands-on, collaborative approach to learning and the school’s focus on real-world application. Access to resources like the Bloomberg Terminals at the Janes Financial Center proved instrumental in honing her financial research and analysis skills, which continue to be integral to her role as a Trading Analyst.

“The professors all had extensive experience in relevant industries, and classes were structured in a very hands-on, collaborative, and interactive manner,” she says. “The transition from school to the workplace was extremely smooth, and the learning curve to become competent in my job did not feel as steep…Even starting my MBA currently at USC Marshall School of Business, I am still drawing from my knowledge gained at Chapman to be successful in the program.  Several professors even commented that my undergrad Econ and Finance professors have taught me well!”

Navigating Career Pathways

Valerie’s journey into the finance industry was marked by strategic career moves and invaluable learning experiences. Prior to her current role, she interned at GBG within the Financial Reporting Division, where she honed her Excel programming skills and gained foundational knowledge in accounting and financial statement analysis. However, it was her participation in the Janes Financial Center Residency Program that proved to be the most influential experience, exposing her to portfolio management and paving the way for her entry into Aristotle Pacific Capital.

A pivotal moment in Valerie’s career was achieving the esteemed CFA Charterholder designation. She reflects on the rigorous journey of passing all three levels of the CFA Program, saying “This was the most difficult endeavor I’ve ever pursued, and the journey really pushed me to overcome self-doubt and focus instead on self-discipline, hard work, and determination. I feel that my knowledge of investment management and financial valuation has become very solid through the CFA Program, preparing me for future career growth within the finance industry.”

Advice for Aspiring Professionals

Valerie offers invaluable advice to students and recent graduates looking to embark on a similar path:

  • Knowledge and learning doesn’t stop at graduation. Never stop pushing yourself to learn more about a diverse range of topics through constant reading, pursuing a professional designation, or postgraduate education.
  • Focus on building meaningful relationships through networking and extracurricular involvement.  Oftentimes in life, it is “who you know” and not “what you know”, although both are equally important.
  • Don’t be afraid of failure, just get up and keep going.  Perseverance and resilience are highly valuable skills in multiple areas of life, the sooner you can fall and get back up the better off you’ll be in the long run.
  • Life will throw you curveballs, stay flexible and open-minded in order to overcome unexpected challenges.

Valerie Chang’s journey from Chapman University to success in the finance industry serves as a testament to the transformative power of a comprehensive undergraduate experience and the invaluable lessons learned both inside and outside the classroom. Her story is a source of inspiration for aspiring professionals seeking to unlock their own potential and navigate the complexities of the professional world with confidence and determination.


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