The Actuarial Journey Has No Distinct Order

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To those of you on your actuarial career path, do you ever find yourself questioning if you are approaching your goals in the right order? Do you ever compare yourself to your classmates and doubt your accomplishments based on the fact that you are not doing exactly what your neighbor is doing?

Our enthusiastic actuarial professor really encourages us to pass as many exams as possible. He has created our undergraduate curriculum with the possibility to pass as many as five exams prior to graduation. A year ago I had not yet sat for an exam and I was approaching our school’s career fair. While receiving countless emails expressing the importance of passing an exam in order to attain a summer internship, I started to get nervous. Luckily, I am not one to scare away easily or else I may have considered switching majors. It was not by choice that I was “behind” on the exam path, and I knew that all I could do at that point was continue to study while completing as many internship applications as possible.

After several months of juggling the two, I finally found a great internship opportunity. I had convinced this company that even without a passing score, I had the determination and enthusiasm to be a valuable summer intern.

A few months later, I passed both FM/2 then P/1 within 4 weeks of each other. This was also something I had been told was nearly impossible. I had done almost everything in the opposite order than suggested. This is when I realized actuaries come from all sorts of directions. Even though many of my classmates had taken the P/1-FM/2-internship route, that does not make it the “right” order. We all learn and approach things in different ways, which makes the possibilities of our actuarial pathways infinite.

I was recently leading an actuarial forum for incoming juniors along with other members of the actuarial executive board and I could feel a tension in the air. Our professor had just gone through the appropriate pathway for achieving an actuarial career and gave no light to alternative approaches. When the board members took turns introducing themselves, I felt compelled to mention that I, in fact, did attain an internship offer prior to passing my exams, and although it is challenging – it most definitely is within reach. I could feel a sudden shift in the atmosphere of the room.

After the forum ended, I had a long line of people who wanted to discuss this new-found possibility with me. Although there is no exact answer as to how to approach your actuarial career path, it is just as important to know you have options. Actuaries come from all different directions, so create your own order instead of basing your decisions off your neighbor.