Twelve Accounting and Finance Students Build Networks, Learn from Experts in Pittsburgh
By Ed Brennen
Building a professional network is an important process for college students as they map out their career paths.
For international students like Medi Woldemichael, a junior business major from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, networking can be complicated by the realities of also navigating a new culture.
“I'm still adjusting to a different environment and supporting myself, so it has been hard for me to network and make connections,” she says.
Woldemichael has worked to overcome this by joining several student organizations — and by attending the recent Institute of Management Accounts (IMA) Student Leadership Conference in Pittsburgh.
She was joined at the annual three-day conference by Manning School of Business accounting and finance students Sarah Curley, Olivia Hebert, David Jankowski, David Levine, Julia Marino, Heer Patel, Connor Reddy, Jonathan Salmonsen, Henry So, Amay Yadav and Audrey Yana.
“Hearing from experienced accounting, finance and leadership professionals helped me fully understand myself as a student and what I want to do in the future,” says Woldemichael, whose concentrations are finance and international business. “It opened my eyes as a student to what elective business classes I want to take, what internships I have to do, how to build my professional network and how to be a great leader.”
IMA is a global association of more than 140,000 accountants and financial professionals. It has over 350 professional and student chapters in 150 countries around the world.
The three-day conference featured talks by industry leaders on topics including career management, ethical decision-making, emerging trends in the accounting industry and environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing. Keynote speakers included Toni Murphy, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Comcast, and former NFL quarterback Charlie Batch.
Students also had a chance to interview with conference sponsors such as CVS Health and Johnson & Johnson. On a tour of PPG Paints Arena, home of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, they met with members of the team’s accounting department.
The students were accompanied by Assoc. Prof. of Accounting Karen Lin, the department’s director of undergraduate student success, and Manning School Dean Sandra Richtermeyer, who is former Global Chair of the IMA. The Dean’s Office funded the trip.
“I am so grateful for this amazing experience,” says Marino, a junior from Winchester, Massachusetts, with a concentration in finance. Among her takeaways: “Your background in accounting and finance can take you where you want to go.”
Woldemichael returned to campus with a newfound appreciation for lifelong learning.
“Learning doesn't stop when you graduate from college. Throughout your career, you will continuously need to sharpen your skills, learn new things and forge new relationships,” she says. “The learning ‘choices’ you make will ultimately determine the direction and success of your career.”