I encourage all student members to get involved in your school’s IMA student chapter. These chapters offer you an excellent opportunity to interact with accounting and finance practitioners, thanks to the affiliation that most student chapters share with their local IMA chapter or regional council. In addition, you’ll have the chance to develop your leadership and networking skills as you participate in the variety of activities these chapters offer, including awards programs and competitions sponsored by IMA.

For students attending institutions that don’t currently have a chapter, consider starting one! Imagine what a résumé boost that would be to say you founded an IMA student chapter. Go here to download a copy of the IMA Student Chapter Manual to learn more.

The crown jewel of IMA’s offerings for students is the Annual Student Leadership Conference (SLC), which will be held November 10-12, 2016, in Detroit, Mich. Now in its 17th year, the SLC provides a unique opportunity for you to meet other students, recruiters, graduate school representatives, former IMA Chairs, and more than 600 individuals committed to accounting and finance. This year’s speaker lineup includes many senior executives from the Detroit area who will offer real-world insights, and sessions will focus on technical and soft skills needed to advance your career. In addition, pre-Conference industry visits to Ford Field (home of the Detroit Lions), Quicken Loans, and the GM Renaissance Center will provide ample opportunities to build your network and hone your leadership skills.

The Conference also is a great place to learn more about the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) exam, which you can take while you’re still in school. The CMA certification gives you a clear competitive edge throughout your career, so now is a good time to get started pursuing it. Registration for the SLC opens September 6, so visit here for more information.

Even if you aren’t an IMA student member, consider being part of IMA’s efforts to support the profession’s future leaders. How about encouraging students you know (perhaps even your own son or daughter) to attend the SLC? And check out IMA’s Campus Influencers program, a new way to help spread the word about IMA, the CMA certification, and the management accounting profession.

Don’t wait until your late 20s or early 30s and say, “I should have…” Get involved in IMA as a student and for students. It will be worth the effort.

Please share your thoughts with me at mpalker@imanet.org.

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