Hands-On Work Experience

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Internships can be a great opportunity to get hands-on experience in the workplace and to get a better idea of what an actuary does day-to-day. After just a few days in my own summer internship program, I have already gained insight far beyond what I learn in the classroom. Although it can be intimidating to step into a corporate setting – possibly for the first time, internships are tremendously beneficial. In addition, actuarial internships have been known to have some of the best programs within the business world. For anyone considering an internship opportunity, or anyone currently enrolled in an internship program, consider the following points I would like to share with you:

Take exams

If possible, having an exam or two completed while applying for internships can give you an advantage. Since most recruiters review your resume before they get to meet you, having passed exams creates a great first impression. The first exam also acts as a screening process for some people. Therefore by passing an exam, students prove to employers they are able to meet the basic requirements of the career. This suggestion can only help you stand out among applicants, but looking for an internship prior to passing your first exam is very common.

Make connections

When you enter the work environment, make sure to meet a lot of new people and connect with the people you work with. Remembering coworkers’ names is very valuable. This is a challenge I have taken on in my summer office because the work environment is much more comfortable when you can address the employees you encounter. Your coworkers will want to connect with you to – so be yourself.

Ask questions

No one expects you to know everything. Make sure to ask questions as they arise, and not to wait until the point where it becomes something you should be responsible for. For example, if your team uses a lot of acronyms, make sure to ask the first time if you don’t know their meanings, and write them down. It’s easier not to have to ask a second time. Although many people will tell you that “there are not dumb questions,” make sure the answer is not so accessible or trivial where you could easily look it up. This might come across as lazy or dependent.

Think outside the box

If you have an idea of some way to improve what you’re working on, don’t be afraid to share it. Our younger generations have a very different way of thinking than others. Sharing your way of thinking with your coworkers can be very impressive and even if you’re wrong, it still shows you are trying.

Communicate and ask for feedback

Make sure to ask your managers and coworkers for feedback. Even your peers may have some opinions that could help improve your performance. It is important to make sure if you are doing something wrong, you fix it as soon as possible and not wait until a mid-summer review. If your manager has a certain pet-peeve or preference, this is something you should find out early in the game.

Presentation

Find out the dress code and take note of what other people wear. Both dressing up and dressing down from the norm can make other people feel awkward. Poise and good posture make you appear more professional.

Rest and relax

Get enough sleep. For most students who are used to the college lifestyle, it may be different and challenging to get into a daily routine. Unlike classes where you can get away with staying up late and sleeping in, the corporate world requires you to be well rested. This may require you to sacrifice tempting late night plans, but it is important to keep priorities in order.

These are just a few key points that I have found important to keep in mind as I progress through my summer internship experience. For those readers who are, or have been, in similar circumstances – I encourage you to share your thoughts as well. Happy internship season!