My Experience Landing a Job as an International Student

SC Landing Job Blog2.jpgA year ago I was an international student studying at the University of Toronto. I am from China, and I decided to pursue my dream of becoming an actuary in Canada six years ago. There are lots of exciting opportunities there, but as I embarked on my job search, I realized that there were cultural and language gaps that presented unique challenges for international students searching for actuarial jobs in either the United States or Canada.

I learned from firsthand experience that there are steps you can take to help bridge these gaps and improve your chances of obtaining a job offer. By the time I graduated, I was able to successfully land my dream job as an Actuarial Analyst at Economical Insurance. Below are some tips that I found to be helpful to find an entry-level position, particularly as an international student:

1. Perfect Your Resume and Cover Letter

Having an outstanding resume will expedite the process of finding a job. Address all your strengths on your resume, putting special emphasis on your English skills, but try to keep everything within one page. Before you submit your resume, have someone conduct a thorough review. I recommend utilizing your university career center, or asking a friend or mentor to review your resume and make sure there are no grammatical mistakes. If you are applying for a specific position with a company, attaching a cover letter along with your resume will also help address your interests and qualifications.

2. Take Advantage of Every Networking Opportunity

Attend as many actuarial-related events or workshops as you can, especially the informational sessions. Dress properly, do your research and prepare some questions before entering the venue. This may give you more of a chance to communicate and impress potential employers. Don’t be shy, try to talk to every industry professional that attends the event. This is a perfect opportunity to get to know different companies.

3. Follow up with Employer Contacts

This tip goes for any student seeking a job, international or otherwise. Whether you are interviewing or networking, don’t forget to ask for each contact’s email address or business card. After the meeting, follow up within 24 hours by sending an email. The email body doesn’t have to be long, but make sure that it is well-written and emphasizes the key points that were brought up during your conversation. If you get a response from them, respond and keep the conversation going. Their response might be the signal of a good start! Catch the opportunity and rock it!

4. Familiarize Yourself With Your Country’s Immigration Regulations

In addition to the traditional challenges of finding a job after graduation, international students also have deal with navigating immigration laws. The best advice I can give you is to do your research and familiarize yourself with the process. I recommend visiting your country’s immigration website for guidance in this area since the process to obtain a work permit varies by country and individual situation.

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What Sets a Strong Actuarial Resume Apart

The CAS University Engagement Committee contacted Ezra Penland Actuarial Recruitment, and invited them to write a blog post to provide you with information and tips to help you with your search for an actuarial position. We thank Ezra Penland’s Matthew Optiz, Actuarial Recruiter and Margi Patel, Actuarial Recruiter, for writing this post to share with members of CAS Student Central.  

Ezra Penland recruiters review a variety of resumes ranging from someone who is looking to get into the actuarial field to seasoned veterans with decades of experience. With our own experience and feedback from hiring managers, we have learned to recognize what makes a resume stand out in a large pile.


Contact Information Resume 3.jpg

Starting simply, every resume should have your contact information at the very top! This includes your full name, your address, best phone number at which to reach you, and a professional sounding email address you check consistently.

Education Details and Exam Status

Your education details and exam status at this point should be first and foremost. This allows hiring managers to understand your commitment to the actuarial field, and that you’ve invested time into this profession.

Relevant Work Experience

Another major heading should be your relevant work experience, which should include any internship experience you have ongoing or completed. It is best to tailor your resumes to the job description to include specific keywords mentioned, preferably with strong examples from your experience.

Technical and Analytical Skills

A resume that stands out includes a section that highlights your technical and analytical skills. Any programming experience with SAS, R, Python, SQL or VBA should be mentioned in this section. You should make sure to include how you utilized these skills in your work experience in bullet format. In the event that you didn’t get to use these in an internship, aim to get a certification or experience in these to bolster your resume, especially with SAS and SQL as they are the most in-demand in the actuarial field.

Order of Importance

There is an order of importance that should be followed. Generally, at the student entry level, your education and exams passed should be at the forefront of the resume. Highlight your strongest section at the top. For example, if you have several internships at prestigious companies then prioritize that section over your technical skills if your experience with programming is limited. Also, make sure to follow chronological order with your most recent position first.

These are some of the basic items to always have in your resume, but equally important, there are some things you should avoid.

Resume 2.jpgRESUME DON’TS

Lengthy Resumes

Ezra Penland sees entry level student resumes that are 2-3 pages long or include information that is not relevant to the position. Keep your resume to one page if it can be helped. For example, there is no need to include your summer job as a barista at Starbucks; rather only include internships in the actuarial or analytics field. 

Objective Statements and Summaries of Qualifications

These are often too general and redundant, so instead consider adding relevant coursework or details of projects for which you used actuarial concepts or programs in your education section.

Unusual Formatting Styles

There are some formatting styles that should always remain consistent for everyone. Always use 9-12 point traditional fonts (Times New Roman, Helvetica, Calibri). It is vital to include proper titles and dates in month and year format. Simple is best. The average resume is reviewed in ten seconds, so use very specific detailed bullet points rather than paragraphs to convey your experience.

Forgetting to Proofread

Resumes are the most vital part of getting a new job because a small error on your resume can lead to being passed over. Be sure to proofread and have others proofread for you. Typos and spelling errors are the biggest red flag for a potential employer.  Make sure you are putting in the best effort to tell your story on paper.

MATTHEW OPTIZ, Actuarial Recruiter matt.jpg

Matthew is an outgoing and positive recruiter that seeks to develop a lasting rapport with companies and candidates a like. His background in the arts and his love of travel has taken him all over the US as well as the world. He prides himself on making sure all parties involved are happy with the outcome of any placement or job search. Contact Matthew at or (773) 598-4738. 

margi.jpgMARGI PATEL, Actuarial Recruiter

Margi comes from a digital advertising and management background with experience in recruiting for account management and sales. Margi genuinely enjoys connecting a brilliant candidate with a great company so everyone wins! Contact Margi at or (773) 598-4752.

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