A Reddit user recently posted the following at r/actuary:
Hi all. I just graduated with a bad GPA (2.6) and a BA in economics. I take full responsibility for my actions and honestly, slacked off completely. My boyfriend, who has a master’s in math suggested I try to pass the first level of either the actuarial exam or the CFA. Without this, I am just not marketable for any jobs. I’ve applied to marketing jobs but they all seem scammy In that they called me back a day later to have an interview. Also, it seems like a sales job. I’m just wondering what the best path is for someone who has no programming skills, has only the bare minimum excel stuff (vlookup/pivot tables) and a shit GPA. I successfully completed my calc sequence and took a few statistics classes in the last year which I think might help exam P.
The comments for this posting are varied, with some suggesting, rightly I feel, that actuarial science is not something one should just fall back on, or into, but something for which one should commit and prepare.
That said, how does this person gain employment that might support and encourage them to pursue an actual science career, beginning with the early P and FM exams?
There is no universal answer to this problem, yet, as Louis Pasteur once remarked: “le hasard ne favorise que les esprits préparés.” (chance favors only the prepared mind).
I take this to mean that you can tilt the odds in your favor only by being prepared. So how should our Reddit user prepare?
Again, there is no universal answer, but one that I have seen work, in a slightly different area – data science – is to work on a project and advertise the crap out of it!
This worked spectacularly well – twice – for Jorge Fernandes who, after completing a mathematics degree, sat around his parents’ house wondering what to do for life and work. His solution was to extend a project he began in college and post about it daily on a LinkedIn discussion group. That got him noticed, and invited to apply for an internship. He did, got the internship, and subsequently a job as a beginning data analyst. Jorge had bigger plans, and began work on another project which he again discussed regularly on LinkedIn. This lead to another invitation to a job fair, and soon after, a job offer in data analysis at a Fortune 50 company.
Note that Jorge did not apply for internships or jobs: he was invited to apply because prospective employers saw his project work on LinkedIn discussion groups.
How might someone like the Reddit user, above, apply this idea in the area of actuarial science?
First, think long and hard about whether actuarial science is for you: does it excite you? Do parts of it excite you? If not, maybe you should think about another career.
If there are aspects of actuarial science that turn you on then, to follow Jorge’s example, you will need an actuarial project to work on – one that you will advertise on LinkedIn, that will impress prospective employers, who will then invite you to apply for a job.
How then, do you find an actuarial project and begin working on it to showcase your interest, and progress?
That’s a topic for a future post: stay tuned!
Gary Davis is a mathematics educator and mathematician with a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Monash University, Australia. He was instrumental in establishing the Data Science program at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and has periodically run a course in Financial Mathematics He has been the Boeing Distinguished Professor of Mathematics Education at Washington State University, Visiting Professor of Mathematics Education at Rutgers University in New Jersey, Visiting Professor in the Mathematics Education Research Centre, University of Warwick, UK, Professor of Education at the University of Southampton, UK, and Director of the Institute for Mathematics Education, LaTrobe University, Melbourne, Australia.
Gary lives in Massachusetts, USA, with wife Linda, dog Daisy and cat Bella.