While many actuarial students become acquainted through classes, Penn State’s Actuarial Science Club sought to build camaraderie between all its members this year outside of the classroom as well. With this year’s new positions, Director and Assistant Director of Underclassmen Involvement, many fun events were implemented to involve all club members, especially freshmen. Some of these were onetime events, such as the meet-andgreet Creamery visit and Ultimate Frisbee game, while others occurred multiple times throughout the semester. The most frequent event to involve freshman has been the club’s Lunch with Leaders program. Every other week, multiple actuarial upperclassmen meet with a group of all freshmen to eat lunch while discussing the actuarial career. Often times, these lunches go beyond classes, but also include tips about passing exams, interviewing, obtaining internships, and other career advice. Additionally, actuarial professors have attended these lunches to engage with freshmen. These sessions not only introduce underclassmen to the older members of the club, but also establish friendships and resources for future questions about scheduling classes and passing exams. Each semester, the Underclassmen Involvement chairs also set up an Actuarial Science Club Game Night! This event had an attendance of 25-30 club members both semesters, and featured entertaining activities such as Scattergories and a custom made Jeopardy! game, complete with buzzers. Here, all students could compete with each other and enjoy time together, regardless of class level - not all the questions were about annuities! These game nights occurred at the end of the last two semesters and provided students with a night of fun and relaxation before finals week. These events will bond the Penn State actuarial community together for years to come!
The days of manual calculations in actuarial science are long over. Today, even an actuarial student with a mastery of their calculator and all of its abilities may still not be ready for the new technological era. The Actuarial Science Club understands this, and is taking many steps to get its students ready for a career where coding and other technical skills are necessary. To help students prepare for the future, The Club has taken several actions. To start, The Club’s former Webmaster, Aidan Lake, developed a brand new “Excel/Coding” tab on The Club website.
Here, students can learn about Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Access, Python, and SQL. If the introduction to the skills on the website is not sufficient, there are numerous links that students can use to learn more from other sources. Additionally, The Club once again hosted the annual Excel workshop in September. There, students learned how to fly around a spreadsheet with shortcuts, utilize formulas, and manipulate data to make it more usable. Taught once again by former Club President John Miller, the session was a huge success. The Club is looking forward to more opportunities to help students become technically capable job candidates. Keep on coding! The Club’s Technology team has made an effort to be more efficient in our work so as to better serve Club members. The points system spreadsheet has been further automated, which has allowed us to provide more timely and accurate points updates. It is a constant effort to keep the recruiter contact information in our databases updated, which is crucial to ensure that all potential employers are seeing the resume books.
The Club's former Director of Technology, Noah Donten, has been working hard to keep this information accurate! As for the resume books themselves, we are in the midst of an ambitious transition. The new submission form on the club webpage will make compiling the monthly resume books an easier task for the Club’s next Technology team. Working with a Penn State-hired programmer, the technology team has increased accuracy, accountability, and usability. The form entries now require a Penn State login, which automatically populates several pieces of information from a verified Penn State student. The technology team is now able to export all of the needed information with much more ease. Club members should look forward to more accurate databases that are updated more regularly!
On January the 28th, 2019, Paul Birch and Rafael Bergerman, on behalf of Actuarial Science Club, organized the first CAS Case Competition. The case was concentrated on coming up with a new phone warranty product for a fictional insurance company. It required analyzing a pool of claim data and offering a competitive pricing strategy. The candidates had a week to came up with a solution and then present it in front of judges who represented CAS. The participants were divided into two categories: upperclassmen (having a junior or a senior student in the group) and underclassmen. Among the underclassmen the winning team was Noah Donten, Aidan Lake, Akash Patel, and Vince Birch whereas among the upperclassmen the winning team was Natalie Lo, Grace McStravock, Nicolette Nybro, and Ichen "Ivan" Yen. Congratulations to the winners! To provide you more feedback on the event we reached out to a member of the winning team, Nicolette Nybro:
Hello Nicolette, what was your contribution to the team?
Everyone on our team contributed to the case in their own unique way. Natalie, who isn’t an actuarial major but loves case competitions, was in charge of preparing the slide deck. Grace and Ivan being upperclassmen actuarial students understood pricing strategies, so they worked on the bulk of the solutions. As they worked, we brainstormed ideas, they explained to me the concepts, and they allowed me to help out where I could. My main contribution to the team was producing visualizations in Tableau of the given data. These visuals were used to analyze the trends in cell phone type and claim type so that we could plan our pricing strategies accordingly
Which actuarial concepts did you find useful in solving the case?
The actuarial concepts we found useful were the loss and combined ratios which are used to measure the profitability of an insurance company. They relate the total losses (and expenses for the combined ratio) to the total premium amount collected. We also used generalized linear model (GLM) outputs in R studio to demonstrate some key significance factors for the different types of claims.
What did you enjoy the most about this competition?
My favorite part of the competition was learning from everyone in my group. I had never learned about pricing before or knew much about property and casualty insurance, but Grace and Ivan had a general understanding of it. They helped me understand concepts and challenged me to play around with the data and formulas myself. Natalie knew how to present our information to the judges in a compelling, professional, and clear manner, so I enjoyed learning tips from her as well.
Penn State’s 2019 Actuarial Science Career Fair saw over 160 students and 30 employers! The Club also hosted 19 company information sessions in the weeks leading up to the Career Fair with industries that included P&C, Life, Health, Consulting, and Retirement. All of our Top Sponsors (Prudential, Cigna, Aetna, and Highmark Health) held on-campus information sessions with great food and dialogue! This year was the first year where a company, Erie Insurance, held a P&C focused session. The session gave an overview of the P&C industry and differences between the CAS and SOA paths. Students attended to learn more about which path they could be a better fit in and the opportunities available. The club is working to increase exposure in the CAS branch. Another P&C company, Starr Insurance, held an information session later on in the fall semester after the Career Fair. Representatives from Starr discussed the many types of P&C insurance that ranged from Cyber Risk to Environmental.
This has been an exciting year in the Actuarial Science Club, with some awesome new resources available for our students. One of the biggest update is that Actuarial Science will be its own major within Smeal, rather than an option, for the 2019 - 2020 school year and onward. While the business major is still housed under the Risk Management department, being its own major means that it qualifies for a STEM designation, an important factor for international students with regard to student visas.
During the spring semester of 2019, The Actuarial Science Club organized a banquet. During the banquet, students were recognized for their exam and career achievements. It offered an opportunity to socialize as a club outside of school settings. Actuarial faculty were also present at the banquet; both Ron and Steve gave great speeches!
Many students in the Actuarial Science Club are involved in different clubs, organizations, and teams. A few students, who are very passionate about running and fitness are involved in Club Cross Country. Club Cross Country is a flexible club, as far as commitment, since attending competitions is not required and all students are welcome to join for friends and great exercise. They meet to run for an hour or so daily at 4:30 at Rec Hall with more intense training days on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Grace McStravock and Aidan Lake are active cross country competitors who think that Club Cross Country is very important in helping them maintain a balance in their actuarial academics.
Junior Grace McStravock is a big advocate for having the club as a way to get away from her actuarial science work and uses it to help her de-stress. She said, “[Club Cross Country] is the one place I can go and feel totally free from my work.” Maintaining this balance is very important for any student and doing so with physical activity and fresh air make it even better for you and your health! Grace also mentioned that after running, she “feels refreshed and ready to take on the challenges of being an actuarial student.” Sophomore Aidan Lake, says that it is more than just relaxing, and when he is running he is “flooding oxygen into his brain and reacting quickly to changes in [his] environment” which is a good change of pace after having your head down studying for many hours.
Club Cross Country also serves as a place to socialize and meet other people outside of the classes that you have with the same actuarial science students. Aidan said that he “loves cross country because of the people,” and spoke about how the combination of the dynamic team environment and individual effort makes the club so special.
The mental process of running in long distance races is very similar to that of taking and passing actuarial exams. Grace mentioned, “Both are extreme mental challenges,” and that sometimes for both activities, “If the conditions are bad, they’re bad for everyone.” Whether it’s the air quality or having to study during a semester or during an already short break, there is adversity in both that you have to overcome and push yourself through. She concluded, “In running, cycling, and exam-taking, at the end of the day, no one can do the work for you – they can just help you find the grit within yourself to keep trying.” Aidan said that, “The strict regimen and discipline that goes into studying for an actuarial exam is similar to long months of training that go into preparation for a race.” In conclusion, it is important for all students, especially actuarial students, to stay involved in different activites. If they can also maintain a healthy lifestyle at the same time like the students in Club Cross Country, that’s a bonus!