Written by Karen Liu
As a senior looking back at my college career, the one piece of advice I would tell all the underclassman is that being involved will only benefit you. Whether it’s becoming more involved with professional organizations, social organizations, or both, they will make your college experience more enjoyable and even help you in your future career search. Sometimes college students, more specifically actuarial students, become too focused on getting the highest GPA that they can or passing as many exams as possible before graduating. The evolution of the actuarial career brought about higher expectations when it comes to communication and actuaries are no longer thought of as just the people in the back crunching numbers. That’s not to say that outside organizations should become the main focus of your college experience. Having a high GPA and passing exams are desirable, but combine that with outside involvement and you will find that you become a more competitive candidate when it comes to internships.
It’s never too late to get involved in clubs, but I highly recommend getting involved as early as you can. Speaking more for professional organizations, you become exposed to so many networking opportunities. The executive board of the Actuarial Club here on campus always encourages our freshmen to start attending our company presentations and social events during their first year on campus. It’s not because we want a high attendance rate, but because we truly believe that early exposure will help them decide if this is the career they want. When I was a freshman, I did not know what an actuary did, nor did I really take any actuarial related classes. The only exposure that I got to what I might be doing after college was through the company presentations where company recruiters talked about their work and company environment. Being involved in a professional organization early on can also help you practice for when it comes time to searching for an internship or a job. We have our own career fair called Meet the Firms, and a lot of the underclassman are reluctant to attend since they don’t think they have a chance of getting an internship. However, just attending and talking to a few company representatives can give you a better idea of what to expect when you come back as a junior. I had no idea what to expect the first time I attended as a freshman but by the time I went junior year, I was comfortable enough and able to shake off the nerves more quickly. To my surprise, some company recruiters even remembered talking to me in previous years.
Being involved with social organizations is not only a great way to make new friends, but it can also help you find conversation topics or common interests with recruiters. With the higher expectations for communication skills nowadays, being able to make conversation is an important aspect interviewers look for, especially for consultants. At my first interview with the company that I interned with and will be working full time at, I barely remember talking about the behavioral questions that were asked. However, I do remember talking about playing badminton because the interviewer had seen that I was part of the badminton club on campus and she used to play. That didn’t necessarily get me the job, but it probably made our conversation more memorable. So go out and join clubs that you are interested in because in the end, that might make recruiters more interested in you!