Career Advice for Actuaries

You might think that waiting until your junior or senior year to start interviewing for actuarial summer internships or actuary jobs. Wrong!

Start preparing for your career as soon as you enter UCSB. This will provide you with the chance for a successful interview in the fall quarter of your sophomore year and a prestigious actuarial summer internship already after your second year.

So why start thinking about interviews as a freshman?

It is because success comes with knowledge and to practice! Use your freshman year to learn about the different actuarial companies, internships, and interview questions. Join the UCSB Actuarial Club and learn from upper-classmates' experiences. Learn about the actuarial profession by attending Actuary Day and other club events. Attend recruiting talks to meet the recruiters. Prepare your resume and take mock interviews.

Feel lost? Here are 14 tips to guide you:

  1. Prepare your resume. It should present information clearly on one page. Consider following these examples:
  2. Join the Actuarial Association of UCSB and attend club activities! Not only you will make life-time friends and receive advice on classes and actuarial exams, but you will also build connections with fellow actuarial students, -- one of the most valuable strategies in internship/job searching. Many of our current recruiters are UCSB alumni; some graduated as recently as one to two years ago!
  3. Attend UCSB Actuarial Career Fairs which are held annually in the fall. UCSB Actuarial Club members participate in the Exclusive Actuarial Club Hour with recruiters. They are eligible to submit their resumes in advance for inclusion in the resume booklet sent to employers.
  4. Attend as many recruiting sessions as possible to learn about the different actuarial fields: insurance, consulting, health, property, retirement, etc. Come prepared: search the company online, explore their website, learn their business and take note of major happenings within the company. Good questions will help you stand out and help the recruiter to remember you. Recruiters remember students who ask good questions even a year later; they appreciate those who do their homework!
  5. Visit and study the UCSB Career Services website. Career Services hold a career fair every quarter as well as post jobs and internships listings. Sign up with the Career Services for a mock interview to practice interviewing. Students are eligible for a free mock interview for every quarter they are registered. You can have four mock interviews before your first real one!
  6. Prepare and practice your "Elevator Pitch": How would you present yourself as a great hire if you are only given 60 seconds?
  7. Sign-up for interviews as soon as you are enrolled in PSTAT 120AB. Taking these classes allow you to prepare and take Exam P before your internship. Share your plans with the recruiter. Take PSTAT 120AB and Exam P as soon as you complete prerequisites. Companies would like to see Exam P passed when recruiting for summer internships and at least two exams passed when recruiting for a job. Prepare for the interviews by researching about companies. Several articles on interview preparation are included below.
  8. Pay attention to your appearance: we recommend business attire for career fairs and interviews, and business or business casual for presentations. If you are not sure what this means, check here.
  9. Coursework. Take Writing 107A or B as soon as you are eligible; the course is useful in professional writing, e-mails, etc. Take general electives that develop your communication skills, e.g., theater courses focusing on spontaneous speech, body language, etc. Plan to take PSTAT 171, 160A, 170 sequence early; it prepares for Exam FM. Take the Excel course offered by the UCSB Actuarial Club.
  10. Interviewing. More general tips on interviewing are found at the Career Services website here. Here are several papers with advice specifically related to actuarial interviews:

    Also, review UCSB's "Points of Pride", learn about your Department and, at the very least, UCSB's Actuarial Program. You want to convince your interviewer that you come with excellent preparation, and you should be proud of studying at UCSB! We believe that our actuarial program prepares students better than most programs, and we do not have grade inflation. For example, we consider advanced actuarial majors with a major GPA of 3.2 to be strong enough for our MS in Actuarial Science program.

  11. Do not forget to send a "Thank You" note following your interview!
  12. Combined BS/MS degree is for those considering becoming a research actuary. It means staying in school for an additional year, but some jobs are available to students with graduate coursework only. Also, our PSTAT 296AB series teams students with actuarial companies to collaborate on research projects. What could be better for networking?
  13. Use actuarial job/internships listings to find internships/jobs. You may try to get in touch with actuarial recruiting offices. Here are some helpful links:
    Sloan Foundation Career Planning Career Cast-Actuary Jobs D.W. Simpson
    Sloan Foundation-Actuarial Science Actuarial Recruiter Rollins Search
    Actuarial Scholarships Jobs4Actuary Health Actuary Search
    Monster job search Actuarial Salary Survey Results  Indeed job search 
    CAS career center Careers for Numbers People: STEM, Silicon Valley & Beyond  

    We advise seniors to apply for both jobs and internships; some companies hire recent graduates for internships first and give offers at the end of an internship.

  14. Finally, for more help, see the faculty Undergraduate Advisor, Dr. Feldman, during her walk-in office hours or by appointment. She will review your resume, give interviewing tips, etc. Many students find her class on Professional Behavior, Ethics, and Interview Preparation useful. Ask about the course in the Statistics office.