IMA Moments

Unconventional Back-To-School Advice

By Dennis Whitney, CMA, CSCA, CFM, CAE
August 15, 2018
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As the semester resumes, students may be getting a lot of advice: “Study hard.” “Take a certification exam.” “Do an internship.” All of that is good, but you can expand your horizons in non-business-related subjects as well. Focusing only on improving your accounting skills can be limiting, so here’s my advice to students ready to begin another semester.

 

DEVELOP CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS

 

To be a successful management accountant, one must develop critical thinking skills. As Big Data becomes a larger part of business, we’ll need accountants who are able to analyze the data quickly, see the results within the context of a larger picture, and make business decisions based on valid conclusions. You’ll also need to know when to question the results and when to trust them. You can develop critical thinking skills in various ways, such as participating in an escape room with a group of friends, taking a philosophy class, or joining the debate team.

 

IMPROVE COMMUNICATION SKILLS

 

Written and spoken communication skills are a must in any organization and are especially important for management accountants starting their career. Being a good communicator will help you write more convincing reports and give more engaging presentations to management. You can sharpen these skills by taking a public speaking or writing class or by joining an improvisation club on campus.

 

BROADEN YOUR PERSPECTIVE

 

Again, there are multiple ways to broaden your perspective. One of my favorite ways, and the easiest way, to accomplish this is to read books that have little to do with accounting or business. A good novel opens doors to other cultures and helps you understand people better, heightening your empathy skills. Not only will you enjoy the book, but you will become a better student overall, a better worker, and a better citizen.

 

What are your tips for your fellow students this semester? What groups are you participating in on campus that help you develop your professional skills?


RELATED READING:

Management Accounting Education: New ImperativesStrategic Finance

Use Snapchat to Engage StudentsStrategic Finance

 



Dennis Whitney, CMA, CSCA, CFM, CAE, is senior VP, certification, exams, and content integration at IMA. You can reach him at dwhitney@imanet.org.
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