For many colleges, this is a common track. And to many students, this path and the “CPA route” were satisfying. But what about those who might have different career goals? The track to my goals wasn’t perfectly clear, but I knew there had to be more options out there.

When my research led me to IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) and the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) certification, I knew that it would be valuable for me and other students at our university. With the help of my accounting professor, Barbara Schofield, I helped found the inaugural IMA student chapter at Washburn University. The group had the opportunity to tour many different manufacturing facilities and to receive scholarships. We also went to conferences with other student chapters across the region.

I believe having a board position in our student chapter helped me land one of the top internships, and being connected to the professional IMA Kansas City Chapter helped on my journey toward receiving IMA’s CMA Scholarship. Though I had passed both parts of the exam 14 months into my career, I still needed the following 10 months to fulfill the requirement of two years of continuous experience to officially become a CMA.

Nonetheless, after passing the CMA exam, I was immediately able to utilize the vast amount of knowledge that I had attained. You can start studying and take the exams early in college; the ac­complishment of passing the exam will not only help your résumé look sharp but also give you professional knowledge that other students may not gain until down the road. Getting the CMA has also facilitated my securing a position on the board of our local Wichita Chapter and becoming the upcoming president. One of the initiatives that I’m most excited about is the opportunity to develop and mentor young members, as I was in their shoes not long ago.

Advancing technology in the business world will lead to a transformation in how accountants and analysts provide value. I believe the most important and valuable professionals to organizations will be the ones who are able to have a vast knowledge of accounting as well as the ability to improve efficiency and decision making through the use of these new technologies.

If you’re a student or professional reading this, learn more about IMA and the CMA. IMA has many different benefits for its members. It’s an elite worldwide network with other professionals who want you to succeed. You’ll also get career resources through Strategic Finance. Keep your accounting knowledge sharp through continuing education courses and engagement with the career resources modules available to IMA members. Visit the IMA website for more background on the career, monetary, and internal value that the CMA can bring to you. I was glad that I did, and you will be, too.

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