I began to consider accounting in my sophomore year. I knew it was a profession in high demand and one where I probably wouldn’t have to worry about finding a job. The accountants I knew and the high success rate on the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) exam for graduates from my college made me realize that this might be the best opportunity for me. From the start, though, I was told that the typical routes for an accountant were in tax or auditing work—and passing the CPA exam. There wasn’t much information available beyond those paths: The CPA meant everything.

My attitude toward accounting started to change one summer when I served as an intern at the local county finance department. Because I found that accounting didn’t naturally click in my brain, I really enjoyed the work. It helped give me real-world exposure to and examples of the abstract concepts I was learning at school.

I was introduced to the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) program during that internship. Later, one of my cost accounting professors talked to us about the CMA exam and the benefits of the certification. By that time, I had decided that I didn’t want to work in tax, and I wasn’t crazy about my audit class. Management accounting seemed like a great alternative.

I knew that getting accounting experience while still in school would give me an edge with companies looking for soon-to-be graduates. The summer before I completed my undergraduate degree, I landed a finance internship with Wayne Farms LLC, one of the largest poultry producers in the United States. That internship made me enjoy working in finance. I gained knowledge and inspiration from the many professionals I worked with. They provided me with guidance and a great company culture and helped me to see that working inside an organization was the way I wanted to go.

After that internship, Wayne Farms offered me a full-time position as a financial analyst. I started working there 10 days after graduation. I continued to grow as a young professional and was soon inspired by our cost accounting manager to pursue becoming a CMA. The company was extremely supportive through the process of my taking the exam and obtaining my certification. In the course of studying, I was able to take the concepts covered on the exam and use them in my daily work.

Adding the letters CMA to my signature in 2017 was the highlight of my year. And while I haven’t had my certification for long, it’s an experience I’ll never forget because it took such hard work and determination to achieve this goal. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my family and those I work with. I’m so excited to see where this certification leads my career.

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