I talked to a colleague of mine who was pursuing the CMA and became more interested. The content of the CMA exam offers diverse financial topics that sharpen your financial acumen. To keep current, you need to complete 30 hours of continuing education each year.

It took me around three months to prepare for the first part of the CMA exam. I had a full-time job, and I was studying in the evenings and on weekends. Since I had the commitment and focus that earning the CMA requires, I passed both parts of the exam and then became a CMA in 2016. That same month, I applied for and was accepted into the IMA Leadership Experience. I had a chance to attend an IMA Global Board of Directors meeting and get an overview of the IMA community. Attending an IMA Board meeting was an enriching experience that increased my understanding of the organization and the high standards of integrity and trust that define the IMA community.

IMA also gave me a chance to take part in a mentorship program. I consider this one of the biggest advantages of being an IMA member. Having a mentor doesn’t mean that all your challenges or dilemmas are resolved, but a mentor can ask you questions that help you think constructively about alternative solutions. My mentor, Bud Kulesza, helped me reinvent myself and discover qualities that I had without even knowing it. So I suggest you take the time to find a mentor or become one.

I also used the CareerDriver® assessment tool that IMA offers. You can use it to evaluate your skills vs. the skills needed in your desired/current role and then build a plan to get there. I reevaluate myself every six months. This tool is a great way to bridge the gap between your current skills and those of your desired role. It also offers learning materials tailored to the development areas of your CareerDriver profile.

From the time I joined IMA until now, I consider all the different experiences as small stepping stones on my journey. Earning the CMA was only the beginning of this great experience. For me, a next step might be to get involved in the local chapter.

I am so grateful I took this path to pursue the CMA. I have learned so much and discovered so many doors just waiting to be opened. I encourage you to start your own IMA journey and to embrace all the experiences that come along with it. I can’t think of a better time to start than now.

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