By William Hamilton
PBN Staff Writer
By William Hamilton
PBN Staff Writer
When recent college graduate Benjamin Silva of Bristol recently took the Institute of Certified Management Accountants exam, he did more than ace it.
Silva had the highest score among the students who took the test nationally. More amazingly, he had one of the top 10 scores of the almost 2,300 accounting and finance professionals who took it.
And what makes it all the more noteworthy is that, as an undergraduate, Silva was enrolled in Rhode Island College’s rather unheralded accounting program.
He recently answered five questions about it.
PBN: First of all, the Institute of Certified Management Accountants exam – what kind of knowledge must you possess in order to do well?
SILVA: The CMA exam focuses on the topics of cost accounting and finance and their roles in planning, decision making and control. The exam also tests internal control and ethics. While these topics are the focus of the exam, the exam presumes that the test taker has knowledge of a wide range of basic business topics. The exam, especially in the essay sections, requires more than just memorization of facts and formulas; you must be able to analyze and evaluate the material.
PBN: Other local colleges and universities have lots of notoriety for their accounting programs. Why did you enroll in RIC’s lesser-known program in the first place?
SILVA:I was actually a student at the Community College of Rhode Island when I decided that I would pursue accounting. After I received my associate’s degree in general business, I decided to continue on to Rhode Island College for the same reasons that I chose CCRI -- the low cost and convenient location. While there may be advantages to attending some of these other programs, I am a firm believer that you get out of your education what you put into it and RIC gives its students plenty of opportunities to get a lot out of their education. For example, joining RIC’s Accounting Association was one of the best decisions that I made during my time at Rhode Island College. The Accounting Association gave me plenty of opportunities to get involved. In fact, I know of students who received internships through the networking opportunities that the RIC Accounting Association afforded them. The highlights of my involvement with the RIC Accounting Association include our trip to the [Association for Accountants and Financial Professionals in Business’] 11th Annual Student Leadership Conference in Anaheim, Calif., and also our trips to the Providence chapter of the IMA’s monthly dinner meetings.
PBN: How much of your good showing was due to your Rhode Island College accounting education, and how much was because of hard study you did on your own?
SILVA: I bought some CMA review books to study for the exam and I just flew through these books because most of the content was review. I had seen almost all of the material before in my courses at Rhode Island College. While the review books were necessary to refresh my memory in preparation for the exam, I would say the accounting education that I received at Rhode Island College certainly did provide the foundation necessary to perform as well as I did on the exam.
PBN: Did the exam results surprise you – top 10 among 2,300 accounting and finance professionals who took the exam this year? Was it a case of you knowing you aced the test, or were you not sure how you did?
SILVA: I was very much surprised when I heard about the results! As with any exam that covers such a wide breadth of material, you are bound to encounter a few questions that test material that you might not be 100 percent familiar with. Of course, these are the questions that stay in your mind after the exam and make you doubt your performance. So while I was confident that I had passed when I walked out of the exam room, I had no idea that I did so well.
PBN: What are your plans now? Have you had job offers?
SILVA:This past tax season I was an intern at Oliveira & Associates Ltd., a small CPA firm in East Providence. I have continued to work there for this summer, though at reduced hours as I study for and take the CPA exam. In September, I will be entering Bryant University’s Master of Professional Accountancy program and will also be working there as a graduate assistant. While a student at Bryant University, I plan to continue to stay involved with the Providence chapter of the IMA that I participated in with the RIC Accounting Association. Of course, my eventual goal after graduating from Bryant is to obtain a position working in public accounting.