Perspectives on the CARe Seminar on Reinsurance Student Program

On May 21, 2014, 30 members of CAS Student Central participated in the CARe Seminar on Reinsurance Student Program held in New York City. Two student attendees and recent graduates, Yeshaya Rosner, graduate of Touro College, and Woosuk Yoo, graduate of the State University of New York Binghamton, have written about the experience.

Summary of the Student Program Experience

Yeshaya Rosner:  Every part of the seminar was a great experience that I would not have wanted to miss. I got to hear from experienced actuaries about their work, the exam process and their career advice. I also enjoyed the opportunity to network with other students who share similar goals. It was a valuable experience for any student aspiring to be an actuary and I highly recommend all actuarial students attend future student programs. 

Woosuk Yu: When I first heard about the CARe Seminar on Reinsurance I thought it was going to be a long presentation on reinsurance policies that would be very advanced and I would come out with minimal understanding. However, I can now say that I couldn’t have been more wrong. This CAS seminar far exceeded my expectations. Through this program, I was able to learn about reinsurance, get some helpful tips on resume writing and interviewing, and connect with great people who share common goals and similar interests.

Being Matched With a Mentor

Yeshaya Rosner:  Networking with my mentor was the highlight of the day. My mentor was someone who I had coincidentally already been in touch with via email, so meeting him in person was an especially valuable experience for me. I got to speak to him about his career; he shared how he ended up working as an actuary, talked about the various types of actuarial work he has done, and provided insight into why he enjoys his work. Additionally, my mentor is regularly involved in the hiring process and provided me with exceptional career advice.

Woosuk Yu: I appreciated that I didn’t need an elevator pitch to grab an actuary’s attention. The student program invited experienced actuaries from major companies with backgrounds in various actuarial fields to serve as mentors. I was matched with an FCAS with over 20 years of work experience. He gave great tips on becoming a successful actuary, and even asked to see my resume for a potential job opportunity at his company! I enjoyed the networking sessions which gave the students an opportunity to connect with fellow actuarial students as well as Fellow actuaries (Get it?).

Introductory Reinsurance Session presented by John Buchanan and Kevin Hilferty

Yeshaya Rosner: The Introductory Reinsurance Session was very interesting. John Buchanan demonstrated how insurance companies develop a product and described all the details that go into pricing it. Kevin Hilferty followed by talking about how reinsurance companies insure insurance companies. We then participated in an interactive activity and each table got to weigh in on which catastrophes to reinsure for. In the end, two of the four tables (not mine!) went bankrupt due to under-insuring themselves. This was interesting for me as a student because I got a sneak peek into how insurance products are developed in the real world, something that’s almost impossible to get in a standard classroom setting.

Woosuk Yu:  The presentation on reinsurance was very easy to follow. The slides were created for students with minimal background knowledge on the subject.

Concurrent Session

Yeshaya Rosner: I went to the session called “Lights! Camera! Professionalism!” consisting of skits put on by actuaries portraying dilemmas that can come up in the actuarial profession. After each skit, the audience gave their opinion on what each character’s professional obligation was as an actuary. It was fascinating for me to hear all the opinions from actuaries, some who may have actually experienced a similar scenario in the course of their career.

Woosuk Yu: My mentor and I attended a concurrent session entitled, “Understanding the Impacts of Climate Change.” I learned that there are some emerging issues that can open up opportunities for reinsurance. Climate change is complex and unpredictable, but there are significant incentives for reinsurers to understand the effects of climate change on insurance profitability.

Student Workshop

Yeshaya Rosner: The student workshop was split into two parts, one was a complete rundown of the exam process and the road to CAS Fellowship, and the second was a presentation from a professional actuarial recruiter.

Woosuk Yu: The recruiter provided tips on writing a flawless actuarial resume and properly interviewing to stand out from other candidates.  I learned that writing good resumes and being well prepared for interviews is just as important as having good grades.

Yeshaya Rosner and Woosuk Yu: On behalf of all the student attendees, we would like to thank the CAS and the University Engagement Committee for including a student program within the professional seminars. 

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From Academia to Actuary

The days of naps, classrooms, hanging out on campus, and studying will soon be a distant memory! Okay, maybe not the studying part; but the time comes when we must transition from living the college life to having a full-time career. It can be scary, and sometimes even difficult. The important part is that we learn from those around us and embrace the change.

The first thing to do is figure out how to organize your day. You are most likely going from taking a few classes, at random times, to working eight hours straight. I remember the questions I was asking myself at first: What time do I need to wake up? How long is my commute? How can I carve out time to study for my actuarial exams? When can I manage to eat in the middle of all of this? Your mind will ramble on with questions, and it can become overwhelming. However, it’s important that you take it one step at a time. It will take a few days, or even weeks, to find equilibrium, but it will happen. Don’t stress!

Secondly, you have to excel in a profession in which you have little to no experience. How? By becoming a mentee, formally or informally, and enveloping yourself in your colleagues’ expertise. They are experienced, extremely smart, and have a lot to offer. All you have to do is not be afraid to ask questions and be willing to learn. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Be confident in your abilities and willingness to learn, and your colleagues will ultimately guide you to success.

The final step is developing a system in which you can work toward achieving excellence in your career, while still studying and passing actuarial exams. There is a key to this: Understand that everyone is different. You will be receiving a lot of recommendations regarding how to study. Actuarial exams—and studying for them—are different from tests in college. It’s important that you listen to what others have to say because you may discover new ways to approach this new material. However, you must also remember that you are the only person who knows your study habits, and how you like to learn – don’t lose sight of that! You might decide that you want to study for four hours each day. You could study for two hours in the morning and two hours after work, or you could try to fit in all four in the evening. There are many options, but you will be studying a lot, so you have to find a balance that works for you. It’s essential that you find time for the gym, or whatever helps you relieve stress. Keep a clear mind and stay focused on growing in this profession and passing exams.

Grasping these concepts may very well be the key to your successful career. The more you can accomplish in the beginning, the more opportunities you’ll find available to you in the future. Good luck and happy studying!!

About Virginia Jones:

After graduating from Towson University in Towson, Maryland with a Mathematics and Economics degree, Virginia is now a full-time Actuarial Consultant for Aon Global Risk Consulting. Aon is the leading global provider of risk management, insurance and reinsurance brokerage, and human resource solutions; with approximately 65,000 employees in more than 120 countries throughout the world.

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