April 2016

Midwest Actuarial Student Conference

By Jeff Beckley

The third Midwest Actuarial Student Conference was held at the University of Michigan on Oct. 3, 2015. The first two conferences were held at Purdue University in 2013 and University of Illinois in 2014.

The conference targets undergraduate actuarial science majors and is a one day conference held in the fall of each year. It is free for the students and includes breakfast and lunch. The cost of the conference has been covered by strong financial support from employers as well as the Casualty Actuarial Society and the Society of Actuaries.

The goal of the conference is to provide valuable information related to the actuarial profession as it affects the college student, while allowing plenty of time for networking among the students, presenters and sponsors. The conference at Michigan included sessions that covered:

  • Where are the Jobs? A discussion of the recently released study on actuarial talent by the Society of Actuaries, the Casualty Actuarial Society, and the Canadian Institute of Actuaries.
  • Workshop on Effective Communication.
  • Industry Opportunities. A panel discussion on the differences between practice areas (life, health, pension, and property and casualty) and type of employment (consulting, insurance company, and reinsurance company).
  • The Interview Process. A discussion on what to expect as well as a list of do’s and don’ts for students. The panel consisted of representatives from two companies who are on-campus recruiters and the assistant director of the career center for the University of Michigan.
  • Actuarial Club Best Practices. Actuarial clubs of the various universities represented at the conference shared best practices.
  • Concurrent Sessions covering:
    • Information for international students
    • Graduate school information
    • Recent changes in the Society of Actuaries and the Casualty Actuarial Society exams

Previous conferences have included sessions on ethics, comparison on supplemental study material from Actex, ASM, and Coaching Actuaries, study approaches for the MLC exam, non-traditional actuarial jobs as well as a session from recent graduates on what they wished they had known while they were still in college.

The attendance at the conference has grown each of the three years that it has been held. At Michigan, there were in excess of 300 students representing 35 universities. Students have attended from as far west as University of Nebraska and as far east as Clemson University. In addition to the students, there were over 40 faculty in attendance.

The University of Michigan also hosted a dinner the night before the conference for students who arrived on Friday night. Also, for the first time, sponsors hosted a sponsor fair on Friday night. Each sponsor was allocated space for a booth in a common area. As noted above, sponsors included the Casualty Actuarial Society, the Society of Actuaries, employers, and providers of actuarial exam preparatory material. This was an excellent networking opportunity for the students—additional opportunities were provided at the breakfast, lunch, and at conclusion of the conference.

The next Midwest Actuarial Student Conference will be held at DePaul University in Chicago on Oct. 22, 2016.

Jeff Beckley, FSA, MAAA, is co-director of the Actuarial Science Program at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. He can be reached at jeffbeckley@indy.rr.com.