Preparing for the FutureBy
I am a senior accounting student at King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Our professors strongly encourage students to join professional associations to increase our knowledge about the accounting industry, to network with professionals and industry leaders, and to have volunteering and leadership opportunities.
I joined IMA® as a student member in April 2014. I also joined KSA Eastern Province Chapter and since then have attended a number of the chapter’s events. The most remarkable one was “Bridging the Gap between Academia and Business.” University professors and industry leaders provided us with invaluable advice on how to prepare ourselves for professional life. In addition, IMA President and CEO Jeff Thompson described the evolving, and increasingly strategic, role of the CFO and how the next generation of accounting and finance professionals need to prepare for this.
Another emphasis was the importance of pursuing professional certifications, such as the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant), to equip professionals and students with skills needed in the workplace. IMA gives students the opportunity to take the CMA exam while in college. They should take advantage of this opportunity because it is, I believe, much easier to take the exams at that point because much of the information tested is fresh in the student’s mind. IMA also supports top-performing students by offering the CMA Scholarship Program, which enables them to take the CMA exam for free. Thankfully, I was one of seven students at our university to be awarded the scholarship in December 2014. I took Part 1 of the exam in May 2015 and Part 2 in September 2015. Fortunately, I was able to pass each one on the first attempt.
King Fahd University also is recognized by IMA’s Higher Education Endorsement Program, which acknowledges business curricula that meet the educational standards required to enable students to prepare for the CMA exam. But not even excellent education and professional examinations are sufficient to prepare students for the workplace; practical training is necessary. King Fahd University requires students to have a 28-week (summer and one semester) internship for exposure to the work environment. My internship was in the accounts payable department of SABIC, a leading multinational petrochemicals company.
While at SABIC, I met some members of the senior finance team and gave them a brief presentation about the value of the CMA certification. Their feedback was very positive, and they promised to support employees who want to pursue the CMA. I also gave the presentation to my colleagues in the accounts payable department. It is our responsibility as IMA members to spread the word about this great organization and to encourage others to pursue this leading certification.
I am thankful to the university professors who told me about IMA, and I am thankful to IMA, which has given me so much.