BEVERLY, Mass. – Endicott College is a pioneer in requiring comprehensive internship experiences in every program of study for undergraduate students. Joseph Brown (Poultney, Vt.), who is a senior applied mathematics major on the baseball team, is currently engaged in a co-op experience at John Hancock. Here is Joe's story on his co-op experience.
Before we talk about your co-op, please explain what an actuary is.
BROWN: An actuary analyzes the financial costs of risk and uncertainty. They use mathematics, statistics, and financial theory to assess the risk that an event will occur, helping businesses and clients develop policies that minimize the cost of that risk. The main occupation of an actuary is in the insurance industry where they help to design policies and determine premiums that should be charged for each policy. There are other departments as well, but this is the sector I am working in at John Hancock, which is called life pricing.
Actuaries typically work on teams that often include people in other fields, such as accounting, underwriting, and finance. One example is some actuaries work with accountants and financial analysts to set the price for security offerings. They can work in many different fields such as health, property and casualty, pension and retirement, and life insurance, which is what I am working in currently. Life insurance actuaries help develop life insurance policies for individuals and groups by estimating (based on risk factors connected to age, gender, and tobacco use) how long someone is expected to live.
The short version I tell people is that they typically work with insurance companies using statistics and probability to determine outcomes and use those to set rates.
In order to become an actuary, there is a string of 11 exams along with classes and modules one must take and pass in order to earn their Fellowship (FSA). This usually takes people until around age 27-29 in order to achieve.
Describe what your co-op experience has been like? What have you done? Daily job functions? Etc.
BROWN: My co-op experience has been everything I hoped it would be and more. It has allowed me to get my first taste of what I could possibly be doing for the rest of my life. Coming into this co-op, I had uncertainty about whether a career as an actuary was what I wanted, but all those uneasy thoughts disappeared after a couple of weeks at John Hancock. Typically, I get in around 8:00 every morning that way I have the ability to leave at 4:00. The earlier I leave the better because the commute is usually around an hour and 15 minutes one way. After I settle in, which usually takes about 15 minutes, as I prep my day and check in on some baseball scores from the night before, I am normally working on the project I have been assigned from that point on until the end of the day. Recently, I have been assigned Peer Reviews, which are overviews of models that have been created in order to help produce rates and test scenarios of possible outcomes. It's a time-consuming assignment because you have to go through the entire model to make sure all the numbers are correct and everything is being referenced/outputted to the right data. A lot of peer reviews are in the process of happening currently because we are getting ready to re-price/launch products for the new year. To many, four months would seem like more than enough time but realistically, we are behind. My main focus over the six months of this co-op will be helping in the re-pricing of the Performance Index Universal Life 2020 product (PIUL20) and helping to prepare for IFRS17, which are the new rules for reporting expenses in the insurance industry.
How has the experience differed from your previous internship experiences?
BROWN: This experience is different from my other internship experiences because I am in an actuarial setting unlike my other internships. Unless you know someone, it is very difficult to find an actuarial internship that is three weeks or a company that will take you without having passed an exam, which students at Endicott don't typically take until their junior year. As for advantages, it gives me a whole half-year of work experience in the field where typically students coming out of school have around eight to 12 weeks from a summer internship. The actuarial program is fairly new and small but I think that students benefit from that. Professor Lombardo has done a great job in developing a curriculum that prepares students to take the necessary exams in order to start their paths to becoming FSAs. It does have room to grow as it is not up to the same standards that schools like Bentley and UConn are at but for how young it is, it does a fairly good job preparing students to take the FM and P exam. The combination of the curriculum and internship/co-op program has set up the degree to grow at Endicott.
What is your goal(s) upon graduation? How has this helped you potentially achieve it?
BROWN: After graduation, I hope to have a career in the actuarial field. Through this co-op, I have learned a lot about what the job entails and what my future career will be like. It has allowed me to develop my knowledge of actuarial science in a real-life setting, which has been very helpful to me and will be valuable in the eyes of future employers. If it wasn't for the Endicott Internship/Co-Op Program, I would not have this co-op right now or have the same career possibilities right after graduation.
What would you tell other gulls about the co-op program? What should they know?
BROWN: The John Hancock co-op program is one of the best I have heard of, and being a part of it has just further backed that thought. I have a supervisor, manager, and mentor, who are all very helpful in developing my knowledge of the field and what the day-to-day life is like. It's a company that appreciates the work their interns/co-ops do, as well as caring about their development, as many get hired to full-time positions.
What other benefits have you received from this co-op?
BROWN: The co-op is a six-month co-op (July 8 to Dec 20) and is paid over that time. For me, it has been really beneficial because not only am I able to throw some of it into a savings account, but every week I am able to pay off some of my student loans, which typically is difficult to do while still in school. I also don't feel as financially strained which allows me to go out and enjoy what the North Shore has to offer.
CO-OP EXPERIENCE AT ENDICOTT
"Over the last two years, we formalized the process for our students to be able to take on a co-op experience. Because co-ops are longer than the traditional semester internship, students get an even richer experience--they can take on more in-depth projects and work, while immersing themselves in the organization," said Dale McLennan, Dean Internship and Career Center. "Adding co-ops to our experiential education options has also opened the door to premiere companies and organizations that value the longer experience and often use co-ops as a pipeline for full-time hires."
MORE ON CO-OPS
- Co-ops are typically six months in length, i.e., January-June or July-December and full-time, i.e., 35-40 hours/week.
- Co-ops are very common in STEM fields, but also exist across many industries.
- At Endicott, co-ops were included at the annual Internship, Co-op, and Career Fair for the first time in 2019.
- Over 30 Endicott seniors are currently doing co-ops that started this summer.
- Companies with current Endicott co-ops include: John Hancock, Walt Disney World Resort, MFS Investments, Four Seasons Boston, Boston University, Gorton's, Virtual Inc., Electric Insurance, Genomic Expression, Boston Casting, and Hireclix.
CAREER ADVISING AT ENDICOTT
Unsure of which path to follow? Don't worry, Endicott's Internship and Career Center offers many resources to help you choose paths that are the right fit for you and make the connection between academics and career.
We invite you to schedule an appointment with a career advisor who will help you make the most of your academic experience and move you toward future success. The Internship and Career Center staff has years of experience helping students choose career paths that suit their academic and professional interests and develop career competencies. Schedule your appointment online through Handshake or contact the Internship and Career Center for assistance.
Also, take advantage of career assessment tools that allow you to explore career options tailored to your personality, skills, and interests.
- TypeFocus is an online career assessment tool that allows students and alumni to explore career options that match their personalities, skills, interests, and values. Endicott students and alumni can email firstname.lastname@example.org for the site password for TypeFocus.
- What Can I Do with This Major allows students to explore the vast array of career options that are related to their majors.
- O*Net Online is a comprehensive resource to learn about thousands of careers and occupations, including job outlook, salary and more.
- SkillScan is an interactive resource that allows students to identify transferable skills, which is instrumental in exploring career options.
ENDICOTT INTERNSHIP AND JOB SEARCH RESOURCES
- Glassdoor allows students and alumni unlimited access to valuable information on more than 280,000 companies that can be used to research salaries, prepare for interviews, and gain an understanding of a specific company's culture.
- Handshake is Endicott's online recruiting platform where students and alumni can search for internships as well as full-time, part-time, seasonal, and work-study jobs. Numerous new opportunities are added daily.
- InterviewStream is a web-based tool for practicing interview skills with a virtual interviewer. Students and alumni can record and review their performance and also receive tips on improving their responses.
- LiquidCompass - The Internship and Career Center has partnered with LiquidCompass to connect our students and alumni with up-to-date opportunities in healthcare at hospitals and healthcare facilities throughout the U.S.
(Photo Credit - Demetrius Kazanas '22)