Actuarial science students find job success during pandemic
“Starting a job in a pandemic is definitely a situation I never imagined myself to be in, but I am so thankful that I was able to intern at Blue Cross Blue Shield,” said Meghan Karbarz, a senior actuarial science student at MSOE.
For many students like Karbarz, summer break means finding an internship to gain hands-on experiences in their fields. While these unprecedented times have made job searches difficult, several actuarial science students have had success navigating new jobs and internships during the COVID-19 pandemic—even as many companies terminated their internship programs or took back full-time job offers.
At Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, Karbarz works on the small group pricing and forecasting team. She helps create a model based in excel, using SQL and VBA, which helps the team adjust and upload assumptions to a forecast model.
Karbarz’s courses helped prepare her for her internship by developing and diversifying her problem solving, time management and communication skills.
“My MSOE education has helped me develop my critical thinking skills by constantly being challenged by difficult problems in my classes. This has helped me a lot during my internship as I have to use those critical thinking skills to solve problems that don’t have simple solutions.”
Amanda Mickelson, a 2020 actuarial science graduate, also had success landing a job as an actuarial analyst at Zurich North America, a risk management and commercial insurance company in Schaumburg, Illinois. Mickelson works in the Technical Execution unit which supports other actuarial work with various studies and projects. Mickelson specifically supports the general liability business.
“The beauty of the department that I work in is that I get the chance to work on a nice variety of projects,” said Mickelson. “My biggest responsibility is studying our Canadian general liability business and helping our reserving business unit decide how much money we have to set aside to pay out any claims. I also do some work monitoring how profitable some of our higher volume catastrophe business is.”
Mickelson has been working remotely since June, which has added an additional challenge to starting a new job. “I enjoy remote work, but there are some challenges that come with it. I would like to meet and interact with my colleagues in person. I feel like relationship building and networking doesn’t come as naturally in a virtual environment.”
As students return to school this fall and start their searches for jobs and internships, Mickelson and Karbarz offered their advice on how to land opportunities in the new virtual environment.
“While you’re searching for an actuarial position (or waiting for one to open up), there are plenty of things you can do to keep yourself a sharp and desirable candidate: keep studying for actuarial exams, pick up a programming language, or learn some basic insurance terminology,” said Mickelson.
Karbarz emphasized the importance of networking to not only make connections, but also learn about how different individuals got to where they are today.
“LinkedIn is a great networking tool to meet so many different individuals with a wide range of experiences,” said Karbarz. “There are so many people out there willing to tell you about themselves and their career paths. They are a great source to learn more about actuarial science and the different career paths that exist.”
Other actuarial science students and recent graduates that had success on their job searches are working at: Acuity, Allstate, Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) Summer Training Program, Epic, Milliman, Northwestern Mutual, Segal, Sentry Insurance, and Willis Towers Watson.
Regardless of your major, Career Services is available to help you land your dream job. From crafting your resume, to enhancing your LinkedIn and Handshake profiles, to interview skills, and searching for jobs or graduate school opportunities, they can help you out—no matter if you are a current student or alumni. Visit msoe.edu/career-services for more information.