As an international student with a non-traditional background (Math PhD), I am convinced that I cannot rely on the conventional channels to help me land my first actuarial job. Coming from an academic background, I understand that professional conferences are the best place to meet people and to build professional relationships. So when I heard that CAS was offering a dedicated student program at its Ratemaking and Product Management Seminar (RPM), I signed up right away. I am so glad I did because what I experienced at RPM far exceeded my expectations! It was a full day of activity; I would like to focus on recounting my experience in two areas: networking and learning.
Upon arriving to the room for the student program, I found several student attendees already there, so I put on my networking hat and went ahead and introduced myself. While many students, including me, are still looking for their first actuarial position, I also met a good number who had already secured summer internships. It was encouraging to learn that there are people (international students too) out there landing jobs, and I made a mental note to reach out and learn from my peers’ experiences.
Apart from the free-for-all networking, the student program also matched each student up with a CAS Member who served as their mentor throughout the day. Another student attendee and I were matched with a seasoned actuary with almost 20 years of experience as our mentor. We listened with great interest, hearing about his adventures and experiences. Our mentor was also a great resource as we later attended concurrent sessions and encountered foreign concepts.
There were also plenty of other opportunities to network throughout the day. The presenters of the student program were there with us the whole time, always ready to interact with us and answer any questions we might have. During lunch time, the current CAS President Wayne Fisher and former CAS President Pat Teufel joined the mentors and students, sitting among us and eating with us.
Throughout the day I had a few surprise encounters:
• A LinkedIn contact whom I had always wished to meet was one of the mentors in the student program
• A former friend in my graduate program who graduated and is now supervising a team at an insurance company
• The person sitting right across from me during lunch was a former Math PhD who now works as a predictive modeler
On the learning side, we had an interactive session on “Intro to Ratemaking for Students” in the morning. After a clear presentation on the Ratemaking Equation and how it is being used by actuaries in their work, six volunteers from the audience were offered a chance to apply what we learned by playing the role of an auto insurance company with the rest of the group playing the role of drivers shopping for insurance. The competition did get our brain power and adrenalin flowing — we had to make sure we were charging enough money to reflect the risk of each customer, and yet we did not want to overcharge lest we lose our customers to our competitors. After several exciting rounds, my team luckily prevailed in the end, thanks to our location (the drivers had to go past our company before they could get to the other companies) and my partner’s intelligence. I appreciated the opportunity to learn new material and participate in this fun learning activity!
After the session, the learning continued as we selected and attended a concurrent session from the regular seminar program with guidance from our mentor. It was interesting to learn about what issues actuaries are concerned with and the latest trends in the industry. I also enjoyed the chance to interact with the presenter and ask follow-up questions.
At the last part of the student program, we heard about the latest exam updates as well as some insider tips on resume preparation and interviewing. It was the quieter part of the day, nevertheless equally educational and valuable.
As an aspiring actuary, I am thankful that CAS (particularly the University Engagement Committee) put together such a wonderful event for us. It helped me realize that I am not alone in my career pursuit, and there is a whole community that is interested in seeing me succeed.
So dear friends, if you find yourself getting discouraged by the lack of callbacks or emails stating, “We decided to move on with other candidates,” stop staring at the “I can’t find a job” post on LinkedIn/Actuarial Outpost, and come out and join the next CAS Student Central Program!