Beneath the simple description of actuarial science – assessing, evaluating and managing financial risks – are a multiplying number of career choices available to today’s university students, as recent graduate Alyssa Dai tells Actuaries Institute student member Bob Shipway in this latest Institute podcast.
Many students enrol in university unsure if they’ll enjoy their chosen course, or where their interests truly lie. Actuarial science provides something for everyone. As Alyssa found out when she completed her Bachelor of Commerce degree with an actuarial studies major at the University of Melbourne, actuarial is more than just grappling with complex maths problems. Students dabble in statistics, economics, finance, business operations, and more. This was a key attraction for Alyssa. “I thought, well how cool is it when you can study something that will fill up your knowledge base in so many areas?”
“I’ve realised that actuarial is more than just a quantitative analysis and modelling. It’s also about the qualitative aspect of actuarial management…we’ve got so many more things to look after and comply with other than just the calculations.”
One key tip that Alyssa has for actuarial students is to take advantage of the extracurricular programs their university offers to improve their skills and help them understand what they want to do in the future. Alyssa herself joined the University of Melbourne’s Global Management Consulting Program, discovering a love of consultancy work. She is now working with social impact consultancy 180 Degrees Consulting, providing impact-driven solutions to not-for-profits and social enterprises.
While studying, Alyssa also co-founded the University of Melbourne chapter of Australian Wall Street (AWS). AWS helps students transition from university to the workforce by providing career talks, industry seminars, mock interviews, and mentorships. Then just a small group of professionals, AWS has now grown into a very warm community of around 2000 students, across five universities in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra.
Studying actuarial builds a strong foundation of knowledge, yet actuarial work will give students a chance to learn and accumulate new skills and techniques throughout their career, Alyssa says. How to develop actuarial judgement, and effectively communicate it to clients and stakeholders, as well as dealing with unexpected situations, are some of the skills Alyssa is now developing. “It’s very exciting to discover the new aspects of actuaries as I go,” she says.
Thanks to new and emerging technologies such as machine learning and data analysis, Alyssa’s future career choices have expanded beyond the traditional actuarial roles of pricing and evaluation. A wealth of opportunities awaits her in areas like software development, product development, consulting work in retail, supply chains, forensics, and M+A, or superannuation, insurance, and investments. As new technologies emerge and existing ones mature, new career options will become available for today’s future actuarial workers.
“I’m sure finishing university is just the beginning of my actuarial journey.”
CPD: Actuaries Institute Members can claim two CPD points for every podcast listened to.