While at University, I was keen to get some work experience in the actuarial sector because I was looking for a structured career within financial services, with a respected qualification to work towards, and an actuarial career provided both.
I applied for a summer internship at Barnett Waddingham because it struck me as a great firm that put an emphasis on its staff well-being. From my research, previous interns at the firm had said they were given real work, which was appealing. I also liked that Barnett Waddingham was a growing, medium-sized firm because it meant I was less likely to be a small fish in a big pond for 8-weeks.
The recruitment process was fairly straightforward. I filled out an application form online on Barnett Waddingham’s website. No cover letter or CV was required because the questions on their form were extensive. It was then followed by a telephone interview and an assessment day at the London office.
The telephone interview was short and I was asked questions covering why I applied to Barnett Waddingham, and a few competency questions. Shortly after the telephone interview, I was invited to an assessment day in London. Along with the invitation, I was given an actuarial case study to work through independently. I was also told to prepare a short presentation on a difficult topic of my choice, because as a consultant it is important to be able to communicate difficult concepts in a simple way.
The assessment day started with an interview consisting of competency questions, technical questions about the pensions industry, and questions from my application form. In the second part of my interview, we spoke about the actuarial case study I was given. Later on in the day, I presented the presentation I had prepared to two assessors, sat two psychometric tests and participated in a group exercise with the other candidates.
The socials at the firm are always a highlight. A member of team qualified as an actuary shortly after I joined as an intern, and the team packed up and went to the pub at midday to celebrate - that was fun! There was also a Christmas party in July when I was an intern, because December was too busy with all other Christmas parties! The annual SIAS ball (an actuaries ball) is always a fantastic night!
In the first few weeks, there are a lot of training sessions with a lot of information to take in, it can feel overwhelming. But once you begin get involved in client work, a lot of training material is put into practice and you learn a lot.
An ongoing challenge is balancing work and study for the actuarial exams because it requires a lot of time. However, we are given a day off every week to study which helps a lot.
I would advise students to read about what actuarial and investment consultants for pension schemes do for their clients, how pension schemes work, and read up on general news in the pension industry and markets. I would also advise students to look through the syllabus for the actuarial exams and think about whether this is something they would like to pursue.