Dreams don’t become reality at the speed of light. When it comes to careers, most of us start with a dream, but we realize soon enough that real career is not just about what we want to be but also about what we can do. My journey to becoming an actuary wasn’t a straight path. Trials and opportunities paved the way for me to transition to an actuarial career.
Growing up in China, I initially wanted to be an English major and become an English translator. Then in 2009, I had the opportunity to travel abroad and study in the US. It was a dream come true, so my decision was never in doubt. But I wasn’t prepared for how difficult it would be live in another country and start a new life without family and friends around. It was the first big transition in my life. The first few weeks were difficult because of the language barrier, the new culture, and the loneliness. But I was young and ambitious, so I told myself to persevere. I studied hard and made friends even with my broken English. After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, I expected to find a job in the IT industry before long. That didn’t happen. But when one door closes, another opens.
Fast forward to the end of summer in 2012. I was temporarily helping a friend in his Chinese restaurant in Connecticut. It was there I met Richard London, a former professor at University of Connecticut and founder of Actex. He told me about his actuarial career. I didn’t know what an actuary was, so I did some research about how to become one. Upon learning that passing actuarial exams was the only way to become one, I studied and took exams. After passing P and FM exams, I joined the masters program in Actuarial Science at UConn. Fortunately, my campus experience went smoothly this time. I got a summer internship and later a full time position in the same company. My knowledge of Excel VBA and my computer background worked to my advantage.
The move to Iowa to work for Coaching Actuaries is another story. I am sure you have some similar transitions in your life. Career transitions may be unexpected and often difficult, but a happy outcome is usually possible. Be positive and confident and learn as you go. Good luck as you make transitions that bring you closer to your dream.