Take exams as soon as possible
It wasn’t until my junior year that I decided that I wanted to become an actuary. I didn’t take exams until nearly 3 years later. There was always something that I thought was more important. This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make! Make this career a priority. It doesn’t matter how soon or how late you are in the grand scheme of things. As soon as you decide that this career path is for you, try taking an exam. The best-case scenario is to pass an exam after taking Calculus I/II/III as a freshman or sophomore. Doing so will enable you to have better chances while applying for summer internships.
I think one of the most important things after exams is internship experience. It doesn’t even matter if the internship is actuarial or not. There are skills that you can learn from any experience, so don’t be too upset if you don’t land the internship of your dreams. Just try looking for different ones and reapply next year as a (hopefully) stronger candidate.
This is my biggest weakness. I’m just starting to learn how to use excel currently. Take advantage of all the free time you have during college to pick up some computer/programming skills.
Instead of being just a member of a club/organization, take an active role in it by running for a position. If you join a business/professional organization, it’s a great way to learn networking skills, how to build your resume, practice interviewing, etc. If there isn’t an organization on campus that you want to join, then start your own!
There was recently a job fair and I didn’t want to go. Only one company was looking to hire an actuarial intern, and I wasn’t sure it was worth the two-hour commute to and from school – but it definitely was. I was able to talk to one of the recruiters and she offered me tips regarding slight resume fixes. She also mentioned qualities that she was looking for in candidates. Although I did not get an internship with that company, the experience talking to a recruiter was well worth it. Try to reach out to as many people as you can, whether it is a recruiter, a mentor, or even fellow students. There’s so much that you can learn from others.
Finding a proper balance
You want to be a jack-of-all-trades, but don’t take on too much if you’re not able to handle it. When I try to do too many things at once, it ends up not going as well as planned. I would rather do a few things exceptionally well, than do many things mediocrely. Know what you can handle, and don’t forget to have some fun too! After all, college is what you make of it.