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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries
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Your profession needs you!

Struggling to think of things to put in your work-based skills (WBS) log other than the usual day-to-day stuff? Well, I’ve got an idea how about getting a bunch of A-level students/undergraduates in a room and tell them how great it is to be any actuary?

Fame or notoriety?
I don’t think I’m being too controversial when I say that the actuarial profession is suffering from an identity crisis. Not that we don’t know who we are, but not many other people do. I say that but in fact our fame is growing. There have been numerous newspaper articles in recent months blaming actuaries for this, that, and the other but this isn’t quite the notoriety we want. It’s important that we put forward a different view to potential entrants into the profession so that we get the best candidates applying and the profession continues to grow and thrive.
And what better to put in your WBS log that you presented the benefits of being part of this wonderful profession to a roomful of enthusiastic undergraduates? In fact, by my reckoning, it could tick as many as three boxes:
– communication hopefully pretty obvious;
– professional and ethical believe me you learn a fair bit about your profession when you have to explain the workings of it to a roomful of people;
– ICT for some people who wouldn’t otherwise have to do presentations in their day-to-day job you have the opportunity to get to grips with PowerPoint (although allegedly other presentation software packages are available!).
Even for those of us that don’t have to fill in a WBS log it’s a perfect opportunity to brush up on those communication and presentation skills.

Back to schooldays
I have been to a number of careers fairs at a local school which invites both their GCSE and A-level students along to come and talk to different people who are promoting the industry in which they work. I certainly didn’t know what an actuary was at the tender age of 16 did you? It may well have been thrown up in one of those computer-based careers packages that every careers department is proud of, but I’m not sure I really understood what it meant. No need to worry about that careers are for old people!
It can be quite an advantage for students to think about careers so early on. At the very least we may be able to get the message across that doing a maths A-level (and possibly a maths degree) can be the route to lots of great careers actuarial included! They may not be so sure that they want to throw themselves into an actuarial science degree, but if they can be aware of the exemption system, a few carefully chosen courses at university can save a couple of CT exams. Of course, with changes afoot post-Morris, there will hopefully be more and more universities offering courses that are directly linked to the profession’s exams and the whole thing will be made easier.
I know that when I was starting to think about applying for jobs at university, I went to various ‘milk-round’ presentations where various different companies tried to convince us that we should go and work for them. The ones I went to fell into two camps: those where I was genuinely interested in the sorts of careers they had to offer and the other sort, that were offering free beer. Now I’m not suggesting that we enlarge the livers of our nation’s students any more than they’re managing to do themselves, but I think a few visits to some carefully chosen universities could very much help some people to think about becoming an actuary who wouldn’t otherwise have done. And who knows, we may even be able to forge some links that persuade more universities to offer profession-‘approved’ courses.

Go now
So go find anyone that will listen to you and tell them what it means to be an actuary. Dazzle them with your charm and wit. Dispel the myth that we’re a bunch of boring geeks. Your profession needs you! And frankly you need your work-based skills
If you do manage to find some students willing to pay attention long enough to hear the good news, please contact Caroline Henderson-Brown, the profession’s careers co-ordinator, at caroline.henderson-brown@actuaries.org.uk. Caroline can provide leaflets and brochures for students to take away and look at.

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