National Mentoring Month: Vanessa’s Mentorship

Vanessa Smart enrolled in our FPHTC Online Mentor Program last spring and continues to find her mentorship rewarding and resourceful. “My mentor is the best,” she enthusiastically told us last week. “She has an abundant amount of knowledge in the field of auditing.” In order to advance her career, Smart is the process of joining the Institute of Internal Auditors and preparing to take the required exams for her CIA certification.

It is common for many public health professionals to seek additional credentials through further education or certification programs. Often times, preparing and paying for these can be very time-intensive and costly. Fortunately, with the advice from her mentor and through her own research, Smart discovered several ways to make this process more manageable for her wallet.

Cutting CostRead on as Smart shares her top 3 money-saving tips:

Explore Online vs. University Programs
When it comes time to look for test-preparation courses, Smart suggests comparing online courses and university programs. “Do your research,” she says after she explored various credible programs. In her case, online programs like Gleim ( allowed her the flexibility she needed to access test-prep materials at any time, from comfort of her home. With a full-time job, she felt this was a more “economical, more convenient yet effective method of preparing for the exam.”

However, for those who find more success with in-person, classroom instruction, many independent programs and university courses are also available.

Flexibility in Pay
“In light of our current economy, it was important to find a program that allowed me the flexibility in pay,” says Smart. As she quickly discovered, few test-prep sites offered payment plans. For those comprehensive certification exams that have multiple test sections, Smart suggests to seek out the companies that offer flexible options, such as pay-as-you-go. In her case, there are four parts to the CIA exam and she needed a test-prep program that allowed her to prepare and pay for each section, individually.

Time is Money
Even though cost-effective programs and payment plans exist, they don’t mean much if you don’t pass the test. “Get your money’s worth,” says Smart. “Ensure you have ample time commit to studying, practicing and reviewing the training materials. Once you pay for the product, in most cases, there are no refunds!” Each certification exam is different, so you many need to adjust study times, accordingly. Smart is devoting significant number of hours per week to ensure she passes all four sections of her exam.

We dedicate this post to Vanessa’s mentor: Rosa M. Suarez, CFE, CIA, CISA!


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