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IMA Life: Students, Get Involved!

By Gina M. Bateman, CFE
September 2, 2015
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My initial experience with IMA® happened during my first semester at San Jose State University. When I received my acceptance letter to school, I was excited about starting my degree in accounting. My first call of duty was to join an accounting student organization, and San Jose State had an IMA student chapter. I was really impressed by the faculty advisor and reached out to her about joining.

 

I attended the IMA Silicon Valley Chapter technical sessions in the evenings and began networking with other accounting professionals. For my second semester in the student chapter, I was elected chapter president. This was a wonderful experience, and the more I got involved, the more I started attending the parent chapter’s technical meetings. I broadened my network, and, by the time I graduated, I had become a regular member and eventually became a board member for the chapter.

 

My career in accounting has taken a different path from that of most students, who usually pursue traditional accounting. I worked as a paralegal while going to school full time at night to finish my degree. One part of my job was managing a client’s accounting recovery collection, which I developed from its infancy. It was a rewarding experience, and I felt good knowing that I helped a client collect the money that was owed to him.

 

After graduation, I continued working as a paralegal because of the downturn of the economy, but I’ve finally followed my passion by joining a unique accounting firm, Ueltzen & Company, LLP. I am currently studying for my CPA (Certified Public Accountant) license and have earned my CFE (Certified Fraud Examiner) designation.

 

Since becoming an IMA member in 1999, I have added amazingly talented accounting professionals to my network, have attended numerous technical meetings, have appeared at council meetings within our council jurisdiction, and am currently serving on the Golden West Council as the vice president of young professionals. When I moved to Las Vegas in 2003, I chose to not renew my membership (for various reasons). What brought me back to IMA in 2005 was the wonderful organization it is and working with other talented accounting professionals. Recently I moved to the greater Sacramento area and am now a board member of the IMA Sacramento Chapter.

 

Being involved in IMA has helped me develop into the accounting professional I am today and to strive to achieve more each and every day. I’ve made lifelong connections. I attend most of the IMA events. And I encourage all the accounting students I meet to reach out to their IMA chapter and get involved.

 

I believe students should get involved in their local IMA chapter even if their university doesn’t offer one. I don’t think students realize how important it is to start making those connections early in their career. Leadership illustrates to employers that students are being proactive in the profession, which will help students excel in the workplace. I’ll forever be grateful to IMA for showing me how to be a leader and for introducing me to the many remarkable professional mentors I’ve met on my journey.

 

Gina M. Bateman, CFE, is a director and certified fraud examiner for Ueltzen & Company, LLP in Sacramento, Calif.; a board member of IMA’s Sacramento Valley Chapter; and a board member of IMA’s Golden West Council. You can reach her at gbateman@ueltzen.com.  
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