Jacob SmithOf all the likely ways that a student can become involved in IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants), the path that led Jacob Smith – an accounting major at Utah State University and winner of last year’s SCMS (Stuart Cameron McLeod Society) scholarship – to the organization is among the most unusual:

“I first learned about IMA while taking a managerial accounting course from the school’s IMA student chapter advisor in my sophomore year,” he explains. “Early in the semester, I walked out of one of his exams, foolishly thinking I had aced it. As I sat down in the library to do some homework, I received an email from my professor, informing me that there were two heavily weighted problems on the back of the exam that I had failed to complete. I sprinted to his office and explained that I had merely failed to see these problems and didn’t leave them intentionally blank. Thankfully, he trusted me and let me finish the exam. As I handed him my completed exam, I asked him what I could do to repay his kindness. He simply said, ‘Get involved with IMA and we’ll call it even.’ I’ve been involved with IMA ever since.”

Since that introduction, Jacob has pursued numerous leadership experiences with Utah State’s IMA student chapter. He began as an “officer-in-training” and was invited to attend student officer councils to witness how the chapter leadership functioned. The next year, he served as the vice president of membership, responsible for recruiting new members and communicating upcoming activities to the student body. Currently, he’s serving as the chapter president, working diligently to help the chapter meet all the qualifications for an IMA Gold Award of Excellence.

Explaining how IMA has been an integral part of his college experience, Jacob says, “My participation in IMA has been a game changer. It’s helped me learn about different career paths, network with students, beef up my résumé, gain valuable leadership experience, obtain scholarships, perform valuable service, prepare for the workplace, and develop the deep satisfaction of participating in an incredible global professional organization.”

Jacob plans to continue that commitment to his professional goals. He is due to graduate in the fall of 2018, and his long-term career plan is to become a tenured accounting professor in a university teaching financial and managerial accounting courses – and, ideally, serving as an IMA chapter advisor. To achieve that goal, he plans to earn his master’s degree and Ph.D., as well as become a CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) and a CPA. He’s already taking steps to become a CMA, having begun to prepare for the exam, with plans to take Part 1 of the exam in the near future.

Jacob is confident that being a CMA will serve him well: “Whether I meet my goal of teaching in a university, or if my career path diverges along the way, I’m confident that studying and passing the CMA exam will help me develop the skills I need to add value to any organization.”

Students and student chapters interested in participating in upcoming IMA scholarships and competitions – including the Clark Johnson Award, the Student Case Competition, and the IMA Memorial Education Fund (MEF) Scholarships – can find more information on the IMA website at https://www.imanet.org/students/scholarships-and-awards.