All actuaries have, at some point in their career, received the question “What made you choose actuarial science?” Before any actuarial interview, you should always reflect on why you want to become an actuary because the interviewer is definitely going to ask you this question. When thinking back to why I decided to pursue an actuarial career path, three main reasons come to mind.
First, and the most obvious reason, is my passion for math. In high school, I loved my math courses and really enjoyed working out problems using formulas and numbers. My advisor had suggested taking an actuarial path, so I decided to do some research and find out what Actuarial Science is really about. However, I also enjoy art and thought that my passion was going to be found as an architecture major. Therefore, I applied to schools with strong architecture programs. After quickly realizing I had chosen the wrong path for me, I knew I had to take a more mathematically challenging career and keep art as a hobby.
This brings me to the next reason I chose to be an actuary: my love for a good challenge. Actuarial Science is one of the hardest fields to study. To succeed, you really need to be focused and driven. I love having a goal and working hard to reach it. For that reason, everyone’s most hated part of the actuarial science field, the exams, actually excites me. I love being able to strive to complete one exam and pushing myself to do my best and succeed. Due to the tough nature of the actuarial exams, my love for a challenge is there. The exams allow you to set goals for yourself and your future career.
Lastly, I love helping people understand difficult concepts in the math world. Half of the struggle of being an actuary is the difficulty of conveying what the formulas, math, and other actuarial topics really mean to those who have no background in the field. As a babysitter throughout my high school and college experience and helping kids with their homework, I came to realize that I was good at explaining difficult concepts to people with no math background. Most people either don’t know what actuaries do or they haven’t even heard of the actuarial field, therefore, the ability to discuss actuarial concepts with anyone (coworkers, clients, etc.) is key to being an actuary.
So when I tell people I’m an actuary, most people think it’s because of the compensation or just because I’m smart. Really though, actuaries have to be much more than that. We have to choose this field because we are driven and love being challenged, we love math and numbers, and we are able to understand the concepts on a level where we are able to explain such complex concepts to non-actuarial people in the business world. You also have to be focused and have a strong enough passion for this field that you always want to be successful and are able to keep pushing yourself for continued success in the actuarial career path.