Monday, May 11, 2009

It's Always the Right Time to Join an Association

After spending years studying finance, auditing and budgeting, what should you do after graduation? In addition to finding a job, get out there and connect with the local chapter of a professional association, such as the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA).

Professional associations offer the chance to network with peers in the industry as well as stay on top of accounting trends. And if you don’t have a job yet, they can be a great source of job market information.

“Some graduates are hesitant to get involved with an association their first year out of school, but those who join see the benefits immediately,” Sandra B. Richtermeyer, Ph.D., CMA, CPA and incoming chair-elect of the IMA Board of Directors. “Meeting new contacts at various career stages can help graduates benchmark where they want to be in five to ten years.”

Those graduating in the next few years can get a head start in gaining experience by obtaining internships, getting involved on campus, or volunteering with nonprofit organizations. Most trade associations significantly discount dues for student members.

In addition, Richtermeyer suggests selecting a minor that complements studies in accounting, such as information technology. Acquiring foreign language skills or learning about entrepreneurship can also help students stand out from their peers.

Along with IMA, consider these accounting trade associations:

American College of Forensic Examiners

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