Archive for April, 2011

April 25, 2011

Meet a CMA

by Scott Roehl

The possibilities of what you can do with a CMA designation are almost limitless. But what does that really mean to a student? It is hard enough sometimes just getting through your university or college program, never mind planning for another 2 – 3 years of part-time study after to attain the CMA designation. And then where do you want to go with your CMA designation? That is a lot to think about.

One reason I enjoy working with the CMA office in Manitoba is the large number of CMAs working in all different types of roles and industries who are very willing to take time often from demanding schedules to speak with students. Any student whether in first or last year of studies can take advantage of the opportunity to be connected up with a CMA to speak with. From the feedback I receive, students really value this interaction to ask questions and learn directly from a CMA about why they chose the designation and where it has taken them. This can be quite helpful when you are deciding whether CMA is a good fit for your future.

To provide further assistance, I will begin to connect CMAs in to this blog regularly as an added way for you to hear their story and insights. If you have an additional question for the CMA, you will be able to post it in the comments and I’ll make sure to get a response for all to see and benefit from.

The inaugural CMA Profile post will feature a CMA who has taken his designation and creative thinking globally to work with a mult-billion dollar international corporation. Stay tuned for his story!

April 14, 2011

Something ventured, something gained – A student perspective on case competitions

by Scott Roehl

When I began taking business courses in university, I quickly discovered that there was almost an endless list of ways to “get involved”. One of the unique opportunities available for students that takes learning beyond the classroom is participation in case competitions. Depending on the competition, it can be individual or team-based and you can even find yourself competing against teams from other universities.

Beyond the competitive nature of being able to demonstrate a variety of skills and knowledge, there is plenty of opportunities to forge friendships with other students and learn from each other. To really bring this last point to life, a University of Winnipeg Student (Darrell) shares his perspective after competing in the February 2011 GAAPS Conference and Case Competition:

Now that the 10th annual GAAPS conference is behind us I must say that GAAPS is in fact much more than a case study and when I think about it the actual case may be secondary to other happenings. Friendships were made, knowledge was shared, good times were had and winners declared.

Why did I register for GAAPS? Because I’m planning to major in accounting and then pursue an accounting designation I imagined there must be some sort of advantage gained by participating in GAAPS. In fact there are many advantages gained by participating in GAAPS including the opportunity to meet and learn from peers, the chance to develop presentation and case study skills as well as free dinners.

Months before the competition my teammates and I began studying accounting cases provided to us by our professor. I must admit that many of the cases we studied contained topics that were greater than my own skill as an accounting student. Three heads are better than one; my teammates would often crack the case and open up some of the possibilities, afterwards I was able to realize what the case portrayed and add ideas and analysis of my own. Therefore on many occasions I would have a steep learning curve to overcome but when it came time to present our analysis I felt quite comfortable and understood most of the problems presented in the case.

Our preparation really paid-off when it came time for GAAPS and we ultimately got to present in the final round of the competition. In the end, it was a delight to earn third spot in the competition! I felt as though the competition was well organized and judged accordingly. All in all it’s just another page in the story of my life, something ventured and something gained.

If you have ever thought about getting involved in a case competition, take action and get involved. You won’t regret it!

Thanks again to Darrell for sharing his case competition experience.

April 4, 2011

Are you getting the most out of a career fair?

by Scott Roehl

A couple of times during the year I will usually find myself at a university or college participating in a career fair on behalf of CMA. For us, it is important that we attend these fairs as it provides opportunities to connect with students who want to learn more about the designation or have specific questions to clarify.

University & College career fairs serve an important purpose in bringing together a diverse range of industries, companies and associations to talk with students. One of the driving forces of student attendance is the interest in finding summer work or even in taking a step towards securing employment after graduation. These fairs also serve as an important source of information for other opportunities that exist after graduation (ie. the CMA designation).

I have been thinking about the whole career fair concept over the last couple of months both as a company rep and back when I attended as a student (wow does that make me feel a little old). Did I maximize my time and effort at the career fairs? Do students get the most out of career fairs? Based on my observations at the last couple of career fairs, some students could be doing more to get the most of their experience.

I’m no expert in this regard, but here are some thoughts and tips to consider:

Create an action plan. Prior to the career fair, take a bit of time to research who is going to be attending and then note who you will target specifically for a visit. This does not preclude you from visiting any of the other booths, but does give you more of a purpose in attending so you can maximize your time in being there.

Dress for success. I’m not saying you have to come dressed in a three-piece suit or your Sunday best, but putting some effort in to your attire can certainly make you stand out amongst the crowd.

Be prepared to talk about yourself and interests. Make sure you are comfortable with being able to provide a quick summary of yourself including goals and interests. While you might think it is just quick conversation that is occurring, the representative may very well be treating it is an informal interview.

Bring copies of your resume along. I realize we live in the digital age with hyper-connectivity the norm, but a good old paper copy of your resume to hand over at the right moment could make the difference in opening that next door.

Do you have a business card? This is a question that is often asked by students to the company representative. But do you have one to give? Make yourself stand out and invest in some inexpensive business cards. This gives the other person the means to follow-up with you after the career fair.

Follow up! If you collect any business cards or have a conversation with company representatives, make sure to follow-up with them after the event. Most students don’t which is a shame because sometimes opportunities are being missed. Whether it is a follow-up on a particular job opportunity or simply to build a connection with someone in the industry, make sure to take time to follow-up.