Opportunities abound for students in Actuarial Club

Society of Actuaries Senior Fellow Stuart Klugman delivers an update from the SOA at the Midwest Actuarial Student Conference at UWM in September. Photo courtesy of Jason Leurquin and Brittany Kern-Osthoff.

More than 100 future actuaries descended on the UW-Milwaukee campus in September, eager for actuarial industry news, education, and job prospects. They came from across the region for the 6th annual Midwest Actuarial Student Conference (MASC), an endeavor that drew sponsorship from prestigious donors like Northwestern Mutual and Milliman.

And the entire two-day event was organized by a club of undergraduate students.

Actuarial Science is the science of predicting risk, especially as it relates to insurance and finance. It requires students to have a thorough education in mathematics, especially in statistics. The profession is lucrative and growing; the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the industry is growing much faster than average at a rate of 22 percent and average salaries top six figures after a few years of work.

To become an actuary, students must pass industry exams to certify them in the field. That’s where UWM’s Actuarial Club comes in.

“The goal of the Actuarial Club is to provide opportunities outside of the classroom for students to prepare themselves for actuarial exams, career opportunities, and to really grow as professionals,” Jason Leurquin said. Actuarial Science majors Leurquin and Brittany Kern-Osthoff are the president and vice president, respectively, of the Actuarial Club at UWM.

MASC fits the bill, which was the driving reason why Leurquin and the Actuarial club volunteered to organize and host the event. Encouraged by the Society of Actuaries (SOA) and the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS), the governing bodies of the profession, the conference allows actuarial students in the Midwest to gather, learn from experts, make industry connections, and meet other like-minded students. This year’s conference featured panels with speakers from both the SOA and CAS, and industry professionals gave presentations on everything from interview tips to predictive analytics.

Planning the MASC was an intensive process that began back in January as Leurquin, Kern-Osthoff, and the Actuarial Club began contacting local companies for sponsorship and speakers.

“The big challenge for us was reaching out to companies for sponsorship and also for speakers. Getting speakers rallied together was the biggest hump to go over,” Kern-Osthoff said.

Their hard work paid off.

“One of the presentations I really looked forward to was the update from the SOA and the CAS,” said Leurquin. “They know what’s going on as far as what matters to us as actuaries, and they tell us what’s going to be happening going forward in our profession.”

Whatever happens, the Actuarial Club is ready to help students prepare for it. The Club, founded about 10 years ago, regularly brings in speakers and provides study materials for students preparing for their actuarial exams. There’s an ulterior motive there; UWM has been designated a Center of Actuarial Excellence by SOA and a certain amount of students must pass their actuarial exams to maintain that status.

But perhaps the most important benefit of belonging to the Actuarial Club is staying connected.

“I think one thing that’s important for the profession is networking. For me, it made sense to get involved with other people who were as interested as I was,” Kern-Osthoff said.

The club meets on the second or last Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. Ccontact Leurquin and Kern-Osthoff for information.

By Sarah Vickery, College of Letters & Science