Dylan DeanDylan Dean has a very specific person to thank for why he recently passed his CMA? (Certified Management Accountant) exam: Roopa Venkatesh, Ph.D., his management accounting professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO).

Dylan took two classes with Venkatesh while he was an undergraduate at UNO, a school endorsed under IMA?s Higher Education Endorsement program. Venkatesh frequently discussed with her students the value of taking the CMA exam as well as the CMA Scholarship, which enables qualified students to take the exam at no cost.

In a thank-you note to Venkatesh, Dylan recently wrote, ?I do believe that your slight nudge, of even just mentioning the CMA as a possibility, has helped push me to open more doors for myself. For that, I am grateful.?

Dylan had not originally planned to take the CMA exam. But having learned about it in class and being nominated to receive a CMA Scholarship in November 2017, he decided to go for it. To prepare, he followed a very diligent and scientific approach: He calculated how many hours he needed to study and broke that down into how much he needed to study per week. He used the Wiley CMAexcel study materials and basically spent most of his free time getting ready for the test. It also helped that he was still in school (and working full-time as well), since he found that most of the material on the exam was familiar to him.

After studying for about six months, Dylan made a final push in June 2018: To get ready, he spent a full week preparing for Part 1; one week later, he took another week off to prepare for Part 2. Translation: That?s two exam parts, two weeks apart.

?Yes, I know I crammed a lot into a short amount of time, but I felt that was the best way to do it. The material was still very fresh in my mind,? he says.

Dylan learned that he had passed both parts in early August. By that time, he had already landed and started his first professional position, as an accountant at Burlington Capital, in Omaha.

He recalls that during his interview for that job, he was able to tell his interviewers what the exam was about. ?As luck would have it, I was scheduled to take Part 2 of the exam right after one of my interviews, which gave me the perfect opportunity to talk about the CMA. I think they were impressed that I was looking to further my skills beyond my bachelor?s degree and become a more valuable asset to the organization.?

Dylan had some useful advice for other students who were considering taking the exam: ?Don?t stress too much over it. Think of it as just another test you have to take. By the time you?re in college, you?ve already taken probably hundreds of tests ? so just think of this as one more.?

Now, all Dylan needs is to complete his two years of required work experience and he?ll officially become a CMA. ?Before Dr. Venkatesh, I thought the only accounting certification that mattered was the CPA, but now I know it?s not the only choice out there,? he says.