Falling into an internship is a tough process. A company posts an ad on the internet and within hours they get hundreds of applications. I must have applied to countless internship opportunities until I finally got an email back from a company that wanted to conduct an interview. Every company is different when it comes to interviews, they range from a phone call to a thorough series of interviews with several members of the company, and mine was the latter. I actually enjoyed my interview, it was interesting to have conversations with actuaries who seemed to be far ahead in the profession and were considering me. They even took me out for lunch!
An even better experience was to start the actual internship and begin my first experience in the industry. I fell into the Casualty department of a consulting firm, and the first couple of months, I learned the basics: getting familiar with the methodology, models and reports they work with every day. I knew how to use Excel before the internship, but not at an actuarial level. It is perhaps the most widely used tool by an actuary and along with other software packages such as R or SAS, an internship will allow you to learn the essential skill set necessary to become an actuary. Most internships seems to fall into insurance companies, I don’t know how different it is from a consulting firm, but in consulting you are exposed to a variety of projects, and depending where you land it might include non-traditional work which can be challenging and fun at the same time.
This is a very challenging profession indeed, figuring out what to do and how to solve any given problem is the most common part of our work. Also, an internship helps you have a better insight as to where you want to go in your career. Every actuarial candidate has something that makes him different from the rest, whether that is a specific technical skill or soft skills, there is a chance that there is a position tailored for you. I heard of a girl who found a position in health discipline because she used to work at a drug store and the job required being familiar with drug names. I never saw that one coming…but you never know. If I have any advice of what to do in order to hunt for a position, I’d say to know what skills defines you and use those to sell yourself to the employers. Good luck on your internship hunt!