We invited CAS member Carlo Lahura, ACAS, to share his advice on being a successful actuarial student. Carlo is an expert in this subject, as he was able to graduate with a 3.8/4.0 GPA, held five actuarial internships, served five terms as actuarial club president, and passed 7 actuarial exams, all while earning his university degree!
My name is Carlo, and I graduated from the University of Waterloo in 2017 as Valedictorian with a wealth of experience on my resume. I currently work with EY’s P&C practice in Chicago as an Actuarial Consultant.
After having talked with numerous other successful graduates who managed to balance large commitments, as well as reflecting back on my own university experience, I believe the following 3 mindsets are crucial for ensuring your wild university success:
1. DO NOT AVOID SACRIFICES.
Your success is proportional to how much you’re willing to sacrifice. I sacrificed nearly my entire social life in university to accomplish what I did. I will NEVER regret that.
I found that making an impact on the lives of thousands of people through my 5 club Presidencies was more meaningful and fun to me than traditional socializing. I still socialized within extracurricular activities – with my team members.
Extracurricular activities gave me some of the most amazing life experiences I’ve had thus far and I’ve met some of my closest friends through there. Absolutely zero regrets.
Think hard on how large you want your success to be, and be ready to sacrifice an amount proportional to it.
2. EMBRACE FAILURE.
Failure is one of the greatest successes we can have in life:
- I was rejected over 100 times for my first non-actuarial internship.
- I’ve struck out at networking sessions more times than I can count.
- I was rejected by EY actuarial at the interview stage in my junior year.
Look – failures are not failures UNLESS we don’t learn from them. Avoiding failure usually leads to engaging only in low-risk endeavors (low risk of failure), which are guaranteed to be outperformed by high-risk endeavors in the long-term.
The most successful people I’ve seen are the ones who keep on aiming high and, when they inevitably fail, they learn what went wrong and try again, 5 times harder.
I’ve learned from every one of my failures. They are the main reason why I got to where I am today.
3. WHAT IS YOUR WHY?
How do you get back up when life knocks you down? Easy. You need to know what your WHY is.
You need to ask yourself what drives you!!! Do you want to make your parents proud? Do you have something you want to prove?
You need to seriously think about why you are doing what you’re doing.
We don’t get to choose when we get knocked down in life. But we sure do have the choice of getting back up or not.
When life knocks me down, I choose to get back up every single time. No matter how much it hurts. No matter how difficult it is.
Why? I get back up because my WHY is that I want to make a true impact in the world. I will grind for my entire life until this goal becomes a reality.
Remember this: life cannot beat what doesn’t give up.
I want to make it clear that I don’t believe I am a “special” actuary. As long as the passion, ambition, and commitment is there, ANYONE can do what I did, and even more.
Well, I hope that helped! Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn (I have several popular in-depth articles there on how to achieve success in various areas) and/or Instagram (@actuarial.motivation). I am very active on both platforms, and would love to hear from you there!
All the best in your endeavors!
Carlo Lahura, ACAS