My name is Rachel Weber and I graduated from Penn State in May 2020. I majored in Actuarial Science and minored in Information Systems Management through the Smeal College of Business. I am a Senior Actuarial Associate at Prudential Financial in the Actuarial Leadership Development Program (ALDP). I interned with Prudential for two summers before starting full time in July 2020. During my first internship, I was on the Pension Risk Transfer team and during my second internship, I was on the Individual Life Insurance Principle-Based Reserving (PBR) team. I have passed five exams and I am awaiting the results of SRM. During the pandemic, one of my new hobbies was joining a book club. My favorite book we have discussed so far is “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens. I also enjoy traveling, going on walks and hikes, and watching movies.
What is your current work? What are some projects that you’re currently working on or previously worked on?
My current role is supporting Prudential’s Long-Term Care Insurance Re-Rating team. We are responsible for maintaining relationships with the Department of Insurance offices of each state and assessing the claims and premiums of the active Long-Term Care products.
One of the aspects of this role is to follow various state regulations. A project I have recently been working on is creating an automated process to generate which states we will need to contact in order to update our assumption and projections following a rate increase approval. Next year, my team will only need to run queries in a database to see which states require a regulatory filing, saving time and creating a consistent tracking method year to year.
What is your greatest accomplishment? (as a student or as an actuary)
This past year has presented unique struggles and challenges for everyone. My greatest accomplishment has been graduating from Penn State. Although it looked a little different than I expected, walking across my driveway instead of a stage in the BJC, it was a great success that I was able to celebrate with my family and friends, from a distance!
Who/what inspired you to pursue the career? How did they inspire you?
When I was in 8th grade, my family went to California for spring break. I remember my uncle, who worked for an insurance company at the time, asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. When nothing came to mind, we talked for a while about which subjects in school I found the most interesting. He ended up telling me about some of the actuaries he worked with and how they could take complex concepts and explain them to their teammates and coworkers. This aspect of the career interested me the most; the ability to turn something confusing into something meaningful. In high school, I always remembered this conversation my uncle and I had on a tour bus in California and it prompted me to research actuarial science and eventually attend Penn State for their actuarial science program.
Have you ever influence/inspire anyone? How?
I always felt that the actuarial community at Penn State was inviting and welcoming. As an underclassman, I learned early on that there is always someone who is willing to share their experiences and perspective on the major. During my internships with Prudential, I found this also to be true. We can all relate to the challenges of this major and career path. These shared experiences create a very tight-knit community. As an upperclassman and even after graduation, I continue to seek out opportunities to pass along advice or be a mentor to anyone looking for guidance. In this way, I hope that I not only help answer questions, but also inspire others to continue to pass along their knowledge, as my mentors have inspired me.
What are some challenges you encountered? How did you overcome them?
I took P during winter break of my Sophomore year. I felt good about the material, I did well in the statistics class I had taken during the fall semester, and I dedicated time during my break to study. When I got the results that I had failed, I felt blindsided. Looking back, I didn’t quite recognize the amount of work and mental discipline it took to prepare and pass an exam. This was one of the first times I had ever failed at something I had given my all. As my first exam, this was a challenge to pick myself up and try again. I continued on with the major and I found that some of my classmates were in the same situation as I found myself. This helped me realize that I wasn’t alone and I am grateful that I kept trying.
What are some of your favorite places/food?
I traveled to Italy with my neighbors the summer before starting college and visited Positano on the Amalfi Coast. One of our adventures was a hike through the coast that ended with dinner in a small bistro, right on the water. I truly believe that I had the best pasta dish on the planet that day and I hope that I can visit again in the future!
What advice would you give to current actuarial students?
Never be afraid to ask for help. You can always find someone who was in your situation or willing to offer advice and guidance. I think sometimes we hold ourselves back and try to find our own solutions. This is a great way to learn independence, but in some cases, when we reach out to others for help, we may learn something we never expected.
Paul Birch | Actuarial Consultant
Aetna, a CVS Health Company | LinkedIn
Paul Birch is currently an Actuarial Consultant (ALDP II) at Aetna, a CVS Health Company. Paul has worked at Aetna since graduating from Penn State in May 2019, where he majored in Risk Management – Actuarial Science and minored in Statistics and History. While at Penn State, Paul interned all three summers (amazing!) at three different companies – Kuzneski Insurance Group (a small group brokerage) after freshman year, Liberty Mutual after sophomore year, and Aetna after junior year. Paul will be receiving my ASA in the summer of 2021 and aim to attain FSA in 2022.
What is Paul’s current work?
“Currently, I lead renewal pricing for Aetna’s small group level-funded product. Level-funding is an arrangement that combines self-insurance and stop-loss elements and is one of our newer product lines. In this role, I work with underwriters and our different markets’ actuaries to determine optimal and appropriate increases for our level-funded groups. One of my favorite parts about the role is devising different statistical measures and elements to enhance our renewal methodology model – working either by myself or alongside data science partners to better understand patterns in our block of business.”
Who/what inspired Paul to pursue the career?
“People often stereotype actuaries as being heartless human calculators, far more focused on the fifth decimal point than the big picture or the people surrounding them. I’ve been very grateful to have a very connected, meaningful, personal experience as an actuary throughout my education and career. I decided to attend Penn State because of the individualized attention and opportunities that I could tell even such a large program provided to its students, and I was very pleased during my underclassmen years to have a number of professors and older students who helped mentor me to grow in skills and knowledge.”
And there is more to it…
“Later, when I served as the Penn State Actuarial Science Club President, I was amazed to see the motivation and skills displayed by a diverse group of students and was honored to provide both organizational leadership and individualized support to some very inspiring peers. I’ve had much of the same experience at Aetna – I dare any person to say actuaries can’t be fun after living through the interns’ Aetmazing Race! Even on a day-to-day basis, I’m able to see how the work I do directly impacts both my business partners and even individual consumers, and this is great motivation to do my best to ensure our customers can afford and access the care they need to achieve and maintain wellness.”
Let’s look into Paul’s thoughts on Penn State’s program…
“I’m continually impressed by the amount of resources available to Penn State actuarial students and encourage all students to take advantage of the opportunities the program provides. Not only are they beneficial to professional growth, but they can be personally enjoyable too! I’m forever thankful for the Penn State program for helping me find not only a challenging, rewarding job and a top-tier professional network but also a crew of actuaries to travel the world with, the chance to thoroughly research Jeopardy wagering strategy, and an understanding of the true impact I can make on the world as an actuary.”
Our sincere gratitude to Paul, and congratulations on attaining ASA designation. All the best for your future endeavors!
Brent Nachison | Business Analyst
Deloitte Consulting | LinkedIn | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Brent started his journey in Deloitte Consulting in September 2020 after he interned with Deloitte in the summer of 2019. He also interned with the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency in the summer of 2018. Back when Brent was a student, he worked as a statistician for many of Penn State’s varsity sports teams (Football, Hockey, Wrestling). Brent has passed three exams, and he is looking forward to getting his fourth exam done. He graduated with an Actuarial Science degree from Smeal College of Business in May of 2020 and in his free time he is an overinvested sports fan and plays golf.
What is your current role?
“I currently am working on a Value Based Care implementation project (Health Strategy) with a large health system. Our team is working to help the client move up the risk continuum and ensure that they have a care and operating model that will be able to successfully support value-based contracts. I spent my first six months at the firm supporting life insurance audits for several large life insurance companies. This was more traditional actuarial reserving work across different life and annuity products.”
What is your greatest accomplishment?
“My greatest accomplishment to date was passing IFM. I got a 0 on IFM my very first try when I was a student and did not let that discourage me.”
– Brent Nachison
Who/what inspired you to pursue the career?
“When I visited Penn State when I was in high school, I was lucky enough to run into Ron Gebhardtsbauer who gave me an introduction to what an actuary was and what skills made a successful actuary. I decided to go the consulting route because I thought the breadth of exposure that consulting offers to you so early in your career is great to take advantage of and can lead to so many non-traditional opportunities both actuarial and non-actuarial.”
Have you ever influenced/inspired anyone?
“I like to think that I have performed and conducted myself in a way that people like to view as somewhat of an example, however, I don’t know if I can consider myself an “influencer”. I am always happy to talk with students and peers and give my two cents, but ultimately think my best advice is to talk to as many people and get as many viewpoints as possible. With that, you will be able to make well informed decisions that can shape your career. Happy to talk to any students who may be interested in any part of my path or want to hear why I went a certain way.”
What is a challenge you faced and how did you overcome it?
“I think that my 0 on IFM was a big challenge for me. I really did not grasp any of the material the first time I took it and thought that because I passed P and FM on the first try, I could get lucky. I took it again after re-studying and got a 3. Then again and got a 5. It was my fourth try where I got an 8 and it felt so good given my path. I think it was encouraging that my score improved every time and the key to overcoming it was taking time after each attempt and asking myself how I could enhance my studying approach.”
What was your favorite place to go at Penn State?
“At Penn State, my favorite place was Pickles. One event that I was thankful happened before COVID was our senior year bar crawl and favorite memory was having a beer with Ron Gebhardtsbauer at my favorite bar/restaurant. I really enjoyed going to Pickles for country night and thankfully actuarial classes tended to be on Tuesday’s so there was no issue staying out late on Tuesday’s.”
Our sincere gratitude to Brent. All the best for your future endeavors!
P&C companies hosted a virtual information session about the property and casualty side of the actuarial field. Actuaries from Guy Carpenter, Ernst & Young, and Erie Insurance informed students about the difference between CAS and SOA, career opportunities for CAS actuaries, and trends within the industry. This event helped students who haven’t been exposed to the CAS side gain insight on the different lines of business, such as fire damage, bodily injury, cyber risk, financial options, and more.
Moreover, the individual companies explained their primary roles in the industry. EY is a global company in 154 countries working on different engagements, such as actuarial litigation support, mergers and acquisitions, predictive modeling, actuarial risk and capital management, etc. Erie insurance is a Northeast/Mid-Atlantic insurer on the Fortune 500. As the 11th largest personal lines insurer and 20th largest business insurer, it’s no wonder this insurance juggernaut has earned an A+ Rating from A.M. Best. Guy Carpenter is one of the four businesses within Marsh McLennon that has contributed to the company’s success. Because of its broking expertise, industry-leading analytics, and strategic advisory services, the company takes great pride in its impact. The company’s strength and resilience is unparalleled within the industry.
The Actuarial Science Club thanks Atharv Gupta, Brandon O’Hara, Margo MacKenzie, Shannon Cikowski, and Peter Hohman, for taking the time to inform students on the P&C industry and giving them the opportunity to network. For more information about the event, reach out to Max Cohen (email@example.com).
Top sponsor, Cigna, still managed to host an incredible event for Penn State students, despite all the challenges COVID-19 has thrown at us. The company generously held a “Virtual Coffee Chat” to give students the opportunity to have casual conversations with Penn State Alumni and employees to discuss topics such as health care, resumes, interviews, business writing, and more! This was a valuable opportunity, especially for underclassmen, to network with a top company and learn more about the health care side of the actuarial field.
PSU Alumni and Cigna actuaries informed students of Cigna's Actuarial Development Program, which is a 10–12-week program featuring an executive speaker series, volunteer events, and career development workshop. This internship gives students insight into the actuarial industry while preparing them for a full-time career. For more information on the internship program, visit https://jobs.cigna.com/us/en/summer-internship-program.
Top sponsor, Prudential Financial, hosted their annual spring event for the Actuarial Science Club. Penn State Alumni generously gave insights to Penn State students on the Actuarial Success Awareness Program (ASAP), Actuarial Internship Program (AIP), and Actuarial Leadership Development Program (ALDP). Prudential continues to recruit from Penn State because of the strong partnership with the actuarial science program.
Prudential enables students to get a jump start on the actuarial career path with its 1-week Actuarial Success Awareness Program for freshman and sophomores. ASAP provides students the opportunity to be exposed to the actuarial science field and potential early consideration for the Actuarial Internship Program. AIP is a 10-week summer internship program with a plethora of roles. Students are provided with a mentor for guidance throughout projects. This is also a segue to be considered for the ALDP. ALDP is a 6-year program, with four 12-month rotations and a 2 year capstone. Graduates entering the workforce with Prudential are provided with exam support, leadership opportunities, professional guidance, and training. For more information about internships at Prudential, visit https://jobs.prudential.com/us-en/early-talent/programs/internships#talent-network
Case competitions are one of the many ways that actuarial students can get involved and learn more about the industry. They are often a great way to apply some of the concepts you learn in actuarial courses, as well as meet other actuarial students and actuaries. Over the past few weeks, we have had two of our club members win at case competitions! Nevin Kara participated in the Travelers case competition on the CAS team and Daniel Berlin participated in the Deloitte case competition. Here are some of the comments they have about their experience, and the benefits of doing case competitions.
“Before I participated in the Travelers Case competition, I had a difficult time understanding what a day in the life of an actuary would look like. During the competition, I leveraged Google Sheets to analyze data related to Loss Development Factors in the P&C industry before and during Covid-19. It was exciting to be able to use some of the knowledge I acquired from Excel classes and Risk Management classes. I found that participating in the competition reaffirmed my decision to major in actuarial science and made me more confident in my abilities. I also got to meet a lot of amazing people. I would definitely encourage students to at least try out one case competition during their college career.”
“The case my team was trying to solve was how to safely bring back employees to the workplace for a mid-sized software company. Even if the work I did was not quite work an actuary would do, I had the opportunity to problem solve and present my findings on a team. These skills will prove to be valuable in any line of work, as we will always be given tasks and work with other members of a company. In addition, developing the skill of presenting your findings to others who may not be as knowledgeable in a certain field is something that is important to an actuary. I was able to practice this skill by presenting to a panel of judges and answering a few questions at the conclusion of the presentation. Overall, the case competition was a great learning experience and I was proud to represent Penn State as the winning team.”
The Actuarial Science Club has always stood for inclusion and opportunity. For that reason, the club has never mandated club membership or dues payments in order to attend any club events, attend the career fair, or receive exam pass reimbursements. However, the club has been looking for a way to recognize and provide additional resources for the most active club members who have a drive to be at the top of their class. The Boot Camp was the solution!
The Boot Camp is an approximately 8 week program run by the Actuarial Science Club at the start of every fall semester. Students attend professional training events and technical workshops, participate in a case competition, and complete independent research on the actuarial field, all while networking with their future coworkers. The Boot Camp specifically teaches the skills that Penn State's actuarial recruiters repeatedly look for in their candidates, therefore developing a graduating class from the Boot Camp that is ready for an internship or job at the most competitive actuarial firms.
The first ever Boot Camp was led by Aidan Lake, the Club's Vice President, with the support of the Club's executive board. There were 59 students who applied to be in the boot camp, of all ages, backgrounds, and actuarial majors (Math, Stat, or Business). The Club is proud to announce that the first Boot Camp was a tremendous success, graduating the top 40 of these students.
Upon graduation, the Club's top sponsors: Aetna, Cigna, Highmark Health, and Prudential were thanked for their top sponsorship with early access to the list of boot camp graduates. All other recruiters will be able to see which students have graduated from the boot camp by a special designation in the Resume Books, which are updated at the start of each month.
It's been our honor to serve as the President and Vice President of the Actuarial Science Club for the past year. We hope that we’ve succeeded in providing resources and helping to build an actuarial network for all students in Penn State’s Actuarial Science Program. Nothing that the club did this year would have been possible without a dedicated team of students working restlessly to put on a case competition, field trip, career fair, game night, bar crawl, and many other events! We’re thrilled to see that many of those individuals will be on the 2020 executive board, along with promising new talent! Best of luck to the new leadership team!