I first got involved with IMA during my freshman year when I joined Xavier University’s Accounting Society, which has very close ties to IMA’s Cincinnati North Chapter. I attended several IMA events that year where I learned about the CMA certification, but the first major event where I seriously started looking into it was IMA’s 2015 Student Leadership Conference in Orlando, Fla.

I also attended the next two Student Leadership Conferences in Detroit, Mich., and Houston, Texas, with plans in the back of my mind to try to take the CMA exam at some point–I just wasn’t sure when. In Houston, I learned about the CMA Scholarship, which changed the course of my soon-to-be certification for the best.

Through the CMA Scholarship, I received the ICMA® (Institute of Certified Management Accountants) CMA exam support package, study materials from Wiley, and one free attempt at both parts of the exam. I wholeheartedly encourage any student reading this to explore the CMA Scholarship as it’s an amazing package for students that makes this lofty goal attainable.

Finding time to study wasn’t terribly difficult as I had about a month between the end of the school year and the start of my internship. Studying was essentially a full-time job for me, spending about 45 hours per week that month studying, but it all paid off when I passed both exam parts. I know other students may not have that luxury of time to study, but the material makes it very easy to work at your own pace.

Already I can see the power of the CMA certification. When I hand my résumé to a recruiter, it’s the first thing they focus on, over accomplishments such as my magna cum laude GPA and multiple project leadership positions at Xavier. It has also connected me to people internationally because the CMA has a great presence abroad. Since posting my accomplishment on LinkedIn, I’ve been talking to a student from India who is going through the CMA process. He just received the CMA Scholarship and is excited to begin testing. IMA has opened so many doors!

I did what any other college student can do. I was on the board of a few university clubs, studied for good grades, and had a great social life. Going for the CMA doesn’t mean sacrificing your other activities. I still very much enjoyed going out with my friends and lived the college dream of painting myself blue for every home basketball game. I stormed the court when Xavier won the Big East Conference, and months later I had a similar level of joy getting an email that I was only two short working years away from being a CMA. I passed the CMA exam, and, if you are a student, you can, too!

About the Authors