For more than two years, Laura Romine, a 2017 finance grad from Cal State Fullerton’s Mihaylo College of Business and Economics, has served as product strategy associate in the product strategy group for Newport Beach’s PIMCO global investment management firm.
In this role, the young professional supports the credit team, covering corporate credit strategies across the rating spectrum and capital structure. It is rewarding, but challenging.
“I like the opportunity to work on various projects and enjoy the fast-paced environment here. I’ve found I’m happier when I’m busy,” says Romine of her position. “Regarding challenges, one of my day-to-day responsibilities that was difficult at first is writing market commentary. As financial markets tend to be nuanced, analyzing drivers of market moves requires critical thinking skills and a deep understanding of the underlying context. I enjoy putting all the puzzle pieces together, but it can be challenging at times.”
A volunteer for such organizations as Ronald McDonald House Charities and Orange County Gang Reduction Intervention Partnership, a desire to help others is central to Romine’s ethos. She has found that this dovetails well with the financial sector.
“I like being in a position where I can make a contribution, and it’s something I get to do on a daily basis,” she says. “Being a resource to others is probably the most fulfilling aspect about working in finance for me.”
From ASI to PIMCO: The Laura Romine Journey
Soon after Romine arrived as an undergraduate at Cal State Fullerton, the Irvine High School alumna sought opportunities for leadership and growth through Associated Students Inc. (ASI). During the 2015-2016 academic year, she served as the organization’s vice president of finance.
“My biggest takeaway by far was the importance of communication,” she says. “We had a very smooth budget process that year, which looking back I feel is in part attributable to my one-on-one communication with each stakeholder. Budget cuts aren’t popular; having individual conversations, where I could explain my overall goal and what was necessary to make it happen, was instrumental to a smoother process. I think that definitely helped shape my leadership style to be more team-oriented.”
The following year, Romine gained more applied financial experience through serving as a fixed income analyst with Titan Capital Management (TCM), the student-managed investment fund at Mihaylo College. At the time, it was known as the Applied Security Analysis Program (ASAP).
“It was my first hands-on experience with investing, and I really enjoyed the opportunity to research companies and the global economy,” says Romine. “Doing the research was grueling at times, but totally worth the high of seeing the finished product and feeling that I was learning and improving. I think the work I did in TCM, in particular the writing, has been directly applicable to my current role.”
Romine also took on a summer internship at California Bank & Trust in Irvine in 2016, which provided a deeper understanding of financial statements, essential to her role today at PIMCO.
“My role included analyzing balance sheets and income statements, and making adjustments as needed given the different ways certain line items can be categorized,” she says. “After taking my accounting courses, this internship helped me put that knowledge to work. It also gave me more context on what it means to act as a lender, which is similar to being a bondholder, and think about a loan’s probability of default and potential loss.”
Looking ahead to the future, Romine sees herself in grad school in the next three years. She is currently working on her chartered financial analyst (CFA) certificate and has already passed the first level.
“I like working in finance, so I’m expecting to stay in the industry,” she says. “Beyond that, I’m open to opportunities that will contribute to my continued growth and education.”
How You Can Get Started in the Financial Sector
Thinking a career in the financial sector is for you? Romine’s advice is to be a heavy reader.
“Read financial and economic articles and summarize them for yourself,” she says. “Think about whether the conclusions make sense to you, if you could re-state them in your own words, if you personally disagree or would think about them differently. Part of my role includes the need to think critically, so in a position like mine, the earlier you start developing this skill with regard to financial markets, the better.”
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