One of the biggest motivations that drove me to pursue a career as an actuary, was that it was consistently ranked as one of the top jobs in America. This told me that actuaries enjoy their job. However, as I started studying for exams, I began to doubt that. We go through this grueling exam process, study for hours on end, cut ourselves out of the social world the closer the exams get, and yet no one else understands this. No one else studies months before an exam. They get to enjoy their time in leisure and then freak out maybe a day before an exam. For actuaries, this happens weeks before. So how can a process so grueling lead to such satisfaction?
As actuarial exam takers, we appreciate the free time more! We study like crazy day in and day out, and when we no longer have to – we appreciate the down time much more after realizing what it’s like without it.
A great piece of advice I once received, is that as an actuary you must give yourself time off. If you don’t, you will end up overworked and burnt out. I think this is key to being fully satisfied. We can’t be study-aholics and work-aholics all the time. A good work-life/study-life balance will maximize happiness. In turn, this will make you better at your job as well. A happy person is more likely to enjoy what they are doing, and when you enjoy what you are doing – you’re passionate about it.
Another way the exam process leads to higher satisfaction in a job is because we are always challenged. Even though we may not apply everything we learned from the exams in our jobs, we were challenged. Making it through the challenging exam process provides you with the skills you need to make it through the challenging work days. I know I look forward to a job that makes me think critically every day. Try to think of the exams as another process that makes our jobs all the more worth it.
Finally, remember that all actuaries have to go through it! In the end, we have all been there, we have all done it. We know what it’s like, and we can sympathize with others going through the exams. This gives us all a commonality. We all can understand what we’ve gone through to pursue our dream as an actuary. I think this helps form bonds between actuaries of all ages and levels. It gives us a common ground when we’ve come from such different backgrounds.
Being an actuary is a dream, and we don’t want to give up on that just because of some silly hard exams. We must always keep the big picture in mind and know that we have picked a wonderful job that we will enjoy and be challenged with. We will be all the happier and more satisfied because of it.