Four years ago when I was a junior in high school, I decided I wanted to become an actuary. Most of my actuarial friends had never heard of an actuary until they were in college, so I was lucky. I remember my entire conversation with my parents on choosing a career and how I came to my final conclusion. We had just finished dinner when my parents started asking what I wanted to do after high school…again. I always hated this question because I didn’t have a cool answer like some of my classmates did. Many knew they were destined to be a vet, a nurse, or even an astronaut; however, I didn’t have that kind of luck. My answer changed every year since I liked multiple subjects in school and I wasn’t worried about choosing a major because I thought one day I would just know.
At this particular point in time, I was in pre-calculus, making good grades, and tutoring some of the other kids who were having trouble. I looked forward to working problems and attending class, which you don’t see much of in high school. I told my mom how much I enjoyed numbers and asked what I could be if I decided to enter college as a mathematics major. She told me I had three career choices if I pursued this major: teacher, engineer, or actuary. I now know she only listed the popular choices, but it made it easy for me to see what I was getting into. I knew I wasn’t destined to teach because I couldn’t imagine myself stuck in school until I retire. Plus, even though I was tutoring students, I knew I wouldn’t have the patience to teach an entire class. One-on-one tutoring was challenging enough, especially when I just wanted to do the work for them. The next choice was an engineer, which sounds good but there would be too much science involved. I only wanted to work with numbers, graphs, and statistical ideas. The math involved in physics, chemistry, and other sciences was much harder than regular math. For example, applied physics was the hardest part of calculus because it didn’t come natural to me. There were too many scientific concepts you had to know in order to understand how to do the math, which was a little over my head at the time.
After I crossed off the first two choices, this left me with a career as an actuary. Mom had worked for an insurance company all her life as an auditor/underwriter and came into contact with actuaries every day. Even though she worked with them, she wasn’t entirely sure what they did. Her exact explanation was, “Actuaries sit in the corner and do math all day.” There was my light bulb! I loved sitting in class and doing math, even if it was basic! I told her I wanted to find out more about this career path and what colleges offered an actuarial degree. Once I had done some research about what they do, how to get there, and what my life would be like as an actuary, I was sold! I also found out the college I had been looking at offered this degree, which was exciting to hear!
For me, deciding to be an actuary was based on how much I loved math and the business environment. A lot of math majors, or potential math majors, do not know about this field of study. If my mom had not worked for an insurance company, I could be stuck doing engineering! After working a few internships, I am positive I chose the right career path for me. I know some people think I am crazy because I enjoy sitting at a desk playing with numbers all day, but it’s who I am.