New Year’s Resolutions for Aspiring Actuaries!

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As the calendar turns to January and the holiday festivities end, perhaps you will raise a toast to 2019 and, like many of us, make resolutions for the New Year. Sure, like many others you may resolve to eat healthier and exercise more, but what about some resolutions for your actuarial career?

When I was taking exams, the beginning of a new year meant getting back into the study habit that I put on temporary hiatus through the holidays. Here are some resolutions for 2019 and beyond you can use as you progress through exams and build your career.

    1. Build good study habits –The hardest thing for me to learn while transitioning from a college student to a full-time employee was learning how to study for actuarial exams. In college, you juggle class schedules, assignments, academic and social clubs, and possibly your part-time job. Once you enter the “real-world,” you have to find time to balance a full-time job, studying for exams, and having a family and a social life. Determine what works for you. It took me about three years and many exam failures before I developed a good study routine. Once I found what worked for me, I enjoyed a much more successful journey through the exams.
    2. Study to learn the material, not to pass the exam – There are two ways you can approach actuarial exams: One way is to do what you need to pass the exam; the other way is to see each exam as an opportunity to learn new material. Many of the candidates that approach an exam with the intent just to learn how to answer questions will ultimately fail. Those who approach an exam to learn the material will have a much better chance at being successful on an exam and in their actuarial careers. Learning the material takes more time than studying to pass, but it is ultimately worth the extra time and effort.
    3. Develop your communication skills – You may develop some of the greatest actuarial work ever, but if you cannot explain it to different audiences, what good is it? Keep in mind that good communication skills do not always mean standing in front of 20 people and reading a PowerPoint presentation. Communicating the results of your analysis to your peer, your boss, or a non-technical person requires different types of communication. Most actuarial communication is either one-to-one or one-to-a-few. Actuaries often have to communicate unpopular recommendations – having the skill to do this with different audiences will go a long way in developing your career.
    4. Be curious – If you chose a career as an actuary, you likely find satisfaction in solving problems. Do not be afraid to dig deeper. When you start an analysis, ask yourself what you expect the outcome to be. If you are doing an analysis and a number does not look like you expect it to, find out why. Is there an error in your worksheet? Is something going on with the data? Did a process that is influencing your numbers change? Find out who to ask and hunt down the answer. Some of the best actuaries I know have a bit of Sherlock Holmes in them.
    5. Keep track of your industry – We are fortunate within our industry to have many different daily, weekly, and monthly digital newsletters and magazines. Subscribe to one or more of these. It is much easier to do an actuarial analysis if you understand the product you are analyzing. The more you know about your industry, the better actuary you will become.

I wish each of you a Happy New year and the best of luck in 2019!

Blog written by Ken Williams.

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Webinar Recap: Your Actuarial Job Search – Guidance on Resumes, Interviews, and Networking!

Last month CAS Student Central hosted a webinar entitled, “Your Actuarial Job Search – Guidance on Resumes, Interviews, and Networking.”

The webinar featured presentations from three actuaries, Wesley Griffiths, Regina Kintana, and Mark Maenche, who each spoke about a different aspect of the job search. We have highlighted some of the tips they shared during the webinar! For the full presentation, you can view the webinar recording within the online community.


Wesley Griffiths, FCAS, 2nd VP & Actuary at Travelers Insurance, on Networking:

Wesley covered a range of topics to help prepare you to network successfully; from where to network, to how to start a conversation, to following up. Here are a few highlights from the tips he shared:

How to start a conversation: Having the confidence and initiative to approach someone and begin a conversation is important in networking. Prepare by having some conversation starters ready. At an in-person event, open with something shared, from the weather that day, to commentary about the event (the keynote speaker, the food, etc.). People like to talk about themselves. Lead with a question, for example: “I’m new to this event, what did you think about it?” While initiating conversations with new people can be intimidating, take every opportunity you can to practice this skill, as this will help you become more comfortable over time.

The importance of preparation: Approach your next career fair, informational interview, or other targeted networking opportunity, with a plan. Take time to think through what you are hoping to accomplish, do research on who you will be talking to, and be intentional about what you would like to talk about. Have your elevator speech prepared and practiced. And finally, do your best to be relaxed, confident, and genuine.

The art of the follow up: Building your network and cultivating lasting relationships requires that you follow up with your new contacts soon after meeting. Connect with them on LinkedIn. Leave a lasting impression by sending a note. Be specific in your note, referencing what you talked about, for example, “I really appreciated you recommending that article, I’ve shared it with my peers,” or “I enjoyed meeting you and hearing your perspective on X topic.” Be sure to thank them for their time!


Regina Kintana ACAS, Assistant Director at Liberty Mutual Insurance, on Resumes:

Regina outlined several tips to help actuarial students develop an effective resume, from making it visually appealing to what information to include. We’ve featured some of her advice below:

Make a good first impression: Construct your resume in a way that will be easy for a recruiter or hiring manager to read. You can do this in a few simple ways: have your content go down rather than across, make the formatting consistent, and only include relevant information (some white space on the page is okay). Before sending your resume over, convert it to a pdf to maintain the formatting and personalize the file name to include your first and last name, making the file easily identifiable to a recruiter.

Include relevant information: Though one size does not fit all, keep in mind the essential information to include:

Contact info – phone number and email address (your physical address is not recommended)

Education – school, degree, major, (expected) graduation date, and your GPA if it’s close to 3.0 or higher

VEEs and Exams – completed VEE’s and actuarial exams passed along with dates, as well as exams you will take in the (near) future

Applicable Work Experience – dedicated section for actuarial or insurance work experience entitled “Actuarial (or Insurance) Work Experience”

Relevant Projects – class projects or case competitions that highlight analytical, technical or insurance related skills and experience gained

Other Work Experience – jobs held during and after college

Leadership Experience – club participation and volunteer opportunities

Skills – technical skills and language fluency

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Mark A. Maenche, CIC, CRM, Senior Actuarial Analyst at Risk International Actuarial Consulting, on Interviewing:

Mark discussed tips, advice and ways to prepare for an interview. Here are a few highlights from his discussion.

How to Prepare: Be mindful of social media and the access employers have to the information you’ve posted online. Employers use social media to screen candidates before hiring. Do your research. Learn whatever you can about the position and company, so you can ask intelligent questions and demonstrate your competence and interest in their firm. Smile! The interview offers you a short window to make a good impression; be prepared to smile, as this goes a long way! Dress the part, potentially leveraging your network for guidance on what to wear. Consider your responses, practicing routine interview questions ahead of time, and have examples prepared that will highlight your skills. Evaluate your technical skills, and be ready to communicate the value that you can offer with your skills.

During and after the interview: Plan to arrive early, taking into account potential issues that may delay your arrival. During the interview, ask questions that will allow you to evaluate if the organization is a good fit for you (exam support provided, work/life balance, etc.). After the interview, send a thank you note to each interviewer, an email is fine. This is the last chance you have to make a good impression! Make sure you proofread your thank you notes carefully, as they demonstrate your written communication skills.

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Apply for the 2019 CAGNY Scholarship

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Application deadline is April 15, 2019

The objective of the scholarship is to further students’ interest in the property/casualty actuarial profession and to encourage the pursuit of the Casualty Actuarial Society designations.

The CAGNY Scholarship Program is available to any U.S. or Canadian citizen or holder of a permanent resident visa who is currently a full-time student at a U.S. or Canadian college or university, and will attend a U.S. or Canadian college or university as a full-time student for the 2019-2020 academic year. An applicant must have demonstrated high scholastic achievement and strong interest in pursuing an actuarial career in the property/casualty insurance industry.

Preference will be given to applicants native to the Greater New York area or attending universities in the Greater New York area.

An application is considered complete when it includes:

  1. The CAGNY Scholarship application, along with the requested essay.
  2. The recommendation form included with this application, preferably completed by an instructor who knows the applicant well.
  3. A current official transcript.

Completed applications are due by April 15, 2019. Winners will be notified during May 2019 and will be invited to attend the CAGNY spring meeting in May in New York City.

Scholarships are awarded on the basis of individual merit. In the last several years awards have typically ranged from $1,000 to $3,000.

Halina Smosna
CAGNY Education Chair
Casualty Actuarial Society
4350 N. Fairfax Drive
Suite 250
Arlington, Virginia 22203

Or E-mail:

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2019 IABA Scholarship and Boot Camp Applications are now available!

The International Association of Black Actuaries (IABA) has recently launched its Scholarship and Boot Camp applications!

The application deadline for both programs is March 31, 2019.

IABA Scholarship

The IABA Scholarship Program provides scholarships at the undergraduate and graduate level for black students who are interested in pursuing actuarial careers.

In 2018, IABA awarded $114,000 to 36 students.  The scholarship award (ranging from $3,000 – 5,000) also includes a trip to IABA’s Annual Meeting and a stipend for passing exams during the award period.  Many scholarships also come with an internship or entry-level offer from some of the industry’s leading employers.

Eligibility info:

Application info:

IABA Boot Camp

The IABA Actuarial Boot Camp is the premier program for transitioning black actuarial students to the actuarial industry. The majority of our past attendees report that the Boot Camp was instrumental in confirming their interest in the career and helping them through the interview process. In many cases, they were introduced to their employer through their Boot Camp participation.  Visit the website for more information (

Eligibility & application info:

If you have any questions, please contact IABA’s Executive Director, Kate Weaver, at

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