Job options in the actuarial industry

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We all know that Actuaries consistently have one of the top ranked jobs and a coveted zero percent unemployment rate. With that being said, we have options, and instead of going for “whatever job we can land”, we should look around and know what kind of position will make us happy as individuals. There are many different career options out there and answering a few simple questions can help you land your dream job. Internships are also a great way to get your feet wet, not only ensuring that you’ll like your chosen job, but also for getting an idea of what kind of company you’d would like to work for.

A big question I had before starting my internship was, “What does an actuary really do?” It’s the age-old question. As I discussed this with the President of my company, she expressed that she still has trouble explaining this. Another coworker of mine explained that so few people know, he generally just makes something up. Either way, it’s tough for students to invest all of their time in studying for exams to land a job where we really don’t know what we’re getting.

My explanation of being an actuary really isn’t one of what we do, it’s one of who we are: Problem Solvers! There are too many different tasks being performed by an actuary to explain what one does. One guarantee is that our work will vary, and we’ll be given problems that we have to solve. The interesting thing, and something that I quite enjoy, is that we don’t always know the answer to our problems. Even when we solve for it, it can be hard to know if our solution is correct. The exams help us prepare for this problem solving, but on the job, we don’t always have the answer at the end of the chapter.

The next question to answer is what track to pursue. Knowing what an actuary is can possibly help in determining what kinds of problems you want to solve. Do you want to be involved with learning more about health/life or property/casualty? This is difficult. You can start with getting exposure to these different fields in your coursework and/or getting more hands on with experience at an internship. Either way, I’d suggest knowing your options.

Lastly, consider your options between insurance and consulting. My view is that they are very different, and different people will work better under different conditions, so I find this topic to be very important. Before my internship, my idea of the difference between working for an insurance company or for a consulting company was very minimal. I thought, “One you work for an insurance company, the other you work at the insurance company.” Currently, I’m interning at a consulting company, but I also had the opportunity to go on a client trip and see what it was like at an insurance company. The biggest difference I saw was that in time commitment. But generally there are also differences in company size, compensation, and structure. Reflect on what features you want and make sure the company you interview with can provide these things.

There are many factors to consider when looking for a job. Delving into these questions can help you know what you want and land the job that you will be happy with.