Being an actuary is constantly ranked the top job, but the journey to the fellowship can be long and daunting. Effective and efficient completion of this journey requires more than just commitment, but also strategies to work smarter and networks of people who can support you along the way. I’ve always heard about ActuarialOutpost, but I’ve never been a big BBS person. There is simply too much going on to filter down hundreds of web pages to dig out the most reliable and useful information. My school, Temple University, has a very large actuarial science program of 300+ students, which gave me the opportunity to establish a fairly large internal network of friends. Unfortunately, we are taking the same classes and attending the same professional development events, which makes it hard to establish an external network of actuaries and actuarial students from diverse backgrounds. Then through Facebook, I discovered ProSocial Learning (www.PSLactuary.com), an online community dedicated to helping actuarial candidates be more strategic at passing exams and more productive at work/school – all while encouraging a balanced life.
ProSocial Learning (PSL) is an online platform focused on helping actuarial candidates to achieve their first actuarial designation and ultimately career success. Aspiring and credentialed actuaries in the PSL community share success stories, challenges, and lessons learned to help each other make constant progress towards actuarial and professional goals. To accomplish this, ProSocial Learning leverages the existing technical actuarial resources and provides personal guidance and support for both exam and career progression. It helps aspiring actuaries to study smarter and not harder through 1-on-1 coaching, video tutorials, webinars, and live virtual events – which showcase the latest learning technologies, industry trends, and expert perspectives. At the same time, PSL members build meaningful relationships and connect each other to people in our own personal networks.
I joined PSL in March, and have had a very empowering and uplifting experience. It has been empowering because of the practical techniques I’ve been able to apply to tackling exam preparation and balancing between work (school) and life. When preparing for exams, I always seemed to fall in the trap of “hope studying” – which is something Nemo (the founder of PSL) describes as either never blocking off the specific time on the calendar to study, or scheduling unrealistically by not considering the spontaneity of other life events. PSL has been uplifting because of the environment that Nemo has created within the PSL community. A true personal development guru, Nemo provides learning and sharing techniques, ways to improve productivity, and suggestions to achieve short and long term goals. There is also a morning club among members where mornings are committed to doing important but not urgent tasks – such as going to the gym and/or studying for exams (Steven Covey names important but not urgent tasks the “Second Quadrant Tasks” in his The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People).
Through my involvement in PSL, I learned that motivation does not get anything done – discipline does. I was able to develop better discipline thanks to the PSL accountability buddy system. Every two weeks, Nemo and PSL members would check in with each other through Google Hangout to discuss personal progress towards goals and any other possible roadblocks encountered, and ways to overcome them.
A British military commander, William Slim, once said “the dominant feeling of the battlefield is loneliness.” Of course, he is referring to an actual battlefield, but in the battlefield of an actuarial journey, so many people are fighting those exams all alone. A network of like-minded actuaries who are working toward the same goal and always there for you is not only a tremendous boost in confidence and motivation, but also an accessible and practical resource that can help you achieve goals more efficiently. If you are interested in learning more about ProSocial Learning, you can sign up for an upcoming webinar at www.prosociallearning.com/trainings that is open to anyone.