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Life as an actuarial intern

In this blog, Bethan Goddard, an intern at Barnett Waddingham, talks about her introduction to the actuarial profession and the things learnt along the way.

Having studied law at the University of Bristol for four years, to say I was outside my comfort zone at the start of my internship is a massive understatement. On day one at Barnett Waddingham, I had no actuarial, insurance or Excel experience. The list of things I didn’t know was endless.

So why did I want to do an actuarial internship? I enjoyed the idea of applying logical thinking and working with numbers. My love of maths had survived my law degree, and so I thought it only fair to find out whether saying goodbye to law after so many years would be the right decision. Moreover, working at a consultancy meant that there would be some form of client interaction and the opportunity to get involved in many different projects within the same team.

During the first week, I noticed a number of things. First, actuaries are incredibly intelligent. Second, they also sound intelligent due to the new language that seems to have been created within the office, consisting of many acronyms and fancy words. Third, I realised that Excel would need to become my best friend if I was to become an actuary.

Four weeks into my eight week internship and life as an actuarial intern is great. The new language is less daunting and Excel has become a whole lot easier. Everyone has been willing to help me learn and answer my continual questions. I’ve gained an insight into other parts of the firm, as well as more specialised training in insurance.

I work on a wide range of projects with a variety of people. I’ve been able to get involved in work that relates to both general and life insurance. In general insurance, I was required to manipulate client data and then update various spreadsheets with this data so that it could be fed back to the client in the form of a report. In life insurance, I helped with quarterly valuations, carrying out model runs to check the client would be solvent under various scenarios.

Ultimately, this is the best way to decide whether a career as an actuary is for me, and I’m sure that by the end of my internship I will know.