Within my first year as an IMA member, I met dozens of accounting, finance, and computer science professionals through the many networking activities organized by the chapter. These individuals shared their vast experiences and provided insights into the world beyond the classroom, imparting words of wisdom that helped shape my college career and beyond.

IMA has also given me the chance for broader experiences and opportunities. Among the most memorable was competing in the IMA Student Case Competition in 2019, my junior year. I’m proud to say that our USI team was among four teams invited to San Diego, Calif., to participate in the in-person finals held during IMA’s Annual Conference & Expo. It was an amazing experience, made extra special because it was part of IMA’s 100-year anniversary celebration—and to top it off, we won second place!

This experience taught me how to become a strong team member, communicate more effectively, and challenge myself as a young woman in finance. I find that potential employers and professionals often enjoy talking with me about the case study competition, as they recognize the value that such experiences offer in areas such as leadership, problem solving, and strategic thinking.

I also had the opportunity later that year to travel to Charlotte, N.C., for the 2019 IMA Student Leadership Conference with six peers and our outstanding advisor, Jeanette Maier-Lytle. We attended presentations from incredible speakers, including Loreal Jiles, a finance professional at BP at the time (and now IMA’s director of research—digital technology and finance transformation). She gave a fascinating presentation about robotic process automation and its impact on the finance profession.

Jiles also discussed the influence of Big Data and her research on that topic. The discussion captivated me so much that I wrote “She built a robot; she’s awesome” in my notes—and it proved to be a catalyst for my love of data. At the time, I was pursuing my bachelor’s degree in finance, but after Jiles’s presentation, I shifted my focus to a career in data analytics.

Thanks to my IMA membership and the opportunities the organization provided, I aligned my educational and career paths into one. Once I identified that I wanted to pursue a career in data analytics, the next decision came easily: USI offers an MBA program with a concentration in that subject. I started the accelerated MBA program in August 2020 and intend to graduate in December 2021.

Since the beginning of my academic career, IMA has afforded me the chance to grow my skills and to meet people who believe in integrity, innovation, and the power of collaboration. I’m looking forward to seeing what the future has in store and taking advantage of the endless possibilities ahead of me.

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