The Secret to Your Dream Actuarial Job: Part 1 of 3

Welcome to the Coaching Actuaries Blog! My goal for these blogs is to jump start, coach, and inspire your actuarial career. In short, Raise Your Odds to be a successful actuary.

Probably THE most important milestone in your actuarial career is to get your FIRST actuarial job. Sure, graduating from college with an actuarial science degree is great. Nothing beats the thrill of passing your first actuarial exam. However, neither of these two highs put food on your table. The actuarial profession is like an exclusive club. Once you get yourself in, you are likely in for life. So the question is: HOW DO YOU GET YOUR FIRST JOB?

First, you must do the basics. It really helps to get an actuarial science degree. At one time, that was sufficient. What used to be a luxury, passing a couple of exams, now is a necessity. However, many students have accomplished both of these goals, but do not have a job. What is the secret? The secret, actually, is quite simple. Do something remarkable. Then, once you do something remarkable, make sure others know about it.

This topic is so important, I can’t cover it in one blog. Thus, I am covering it in 3 parts. Also, I want the blog to be reality based, not just theory based. Thus, in each blog, I will share an example of an actuary I hired to work for my company and why I hired them.

The first full time actuary I hired is Tong Teh. He is a 2011 graduate from Drake University. Tong taught the MFE/3F review class at Drake, while a student, helping others prepare for that exam. Tong had – and has – a passion for teaching actuarial concepts to others. Tong thoroughly enjoys teaching any actuarial concept to others. However, he has a special energy and excitement for MFE/3F. After I hired him, I learned his colleagues at Drake had a nickname for Tong, he was the Professor. Tong did something remarkable at Drake and that something remarkable caught my attention and made it easy for me to choose him for my first actuarial employee.

How about you? What are you doing that is remarkable? What are you doing to stand out from the crowd? Don’t confuse being remarkable as doing something just a little better than someone else. I can’t imagine any employer makes a hiring decision based on a 3.70 vs. a 3.60 GPA. I’m referring to doing something different that few, or perhaps, nobody else is doing. In order to get you started, let me frame your thinking. I encourage you to read the book “The Purple Cow” by Seth Godin (

In part 2 of this series, I am going to explore why most of what you have learned in school will KEEP you from getting your first job. If you have any ideas that you would like to share with our community, please share them on this blog. Don’t underestimate the value of your story – your successes and your failures.

Also, my plan is to submit a blog once every two weeks. Don’t be too surprised if I blog a bit more frequently once “inspiration” hits! I hope that timing can fit into your busy schedule. Thanks for “listening”.