Kelsey Mashinski shares her experience with Arcadia's actuarial science program, including her interaction with faculty, opportunities to learn about the actuarial profession from local actuarial community, and how she was able to get a summer internship at one of the premier actuarial consulting firms in Philadelphia.
Q1: Tell us about your experience at Arcadia University. What has been your experience with the actuarial science program here?
I’m an Ambassador for Arcadia, and the one thing I tell prospective students on tour is that Arcadia is rich in support systems; there’s always someone willing to help you. The actuarial science program is just another one of those support systems. Coming into Arcadia and the program, I didn’t know a lot about actuarial science besides the fact that it was something I might be interested in pursuing because I loved mathematics, and actuarial science uses a variety of those mathematical skills. I was kind of lost about what I needed to do to become an actuary and what being an actuary actually entailed. The faculty and program were quick to integrate me, so that I wasn’t lost anymore. As a freshman, all of my classes were not actuarial focused, so that I could form a basic knowledge of what I would need to know for the future. But the fact that I was a freshman didn’t mean I wasn’t getting good exposure towards the actuarial field. The Math and Actuarial Science Club (MASC) with the support of faculty, brought in various actuaries from different companies to come speak about their profession, the path that they took to become an actuary, what a typical day looks like, etc. Professor Pogrebivsky, who is an actuary with over 25 years of experience and a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries has been really instrumental in getting me opportunities to help me network and learn more about the profession. As my advisor, she mapped out the classes I need to take and when I need to take them in order to pass the exams Arcadia offers, which was huge for me considering she’s been through the exam process and knows what’ll help me to be most successful. The other faculty in the department are crazy supportive. I always say that Professor Wolff is my biggest cheerleader. He’s always encouraging me and asking me about my studies for the actuarial exams or about my day in general. It’s the personal attention I get from the faculty that shows how much they care for their students, not because it’s their job but because they genuinely feel that way.
Q2: Congratulations on getting your actuarial internship at AON Consulting this summer. What do you think were the key factors in helping you get the position?
The actuarial program does a great job in building student confidence, and when I went into my interviews with all the companies during the Actuarial Career Day and later in office with AON, I think my confidence was something that radiated out of me. For starters, the fact that I have two exams passed was definitely an eye-catching quality on my resume, and it’s something a lot of companies look for in interns. The actuarial department has a great process in which you take two semesters to prep for exams. The first semester, I took classes that covered the basic skills for P and FM. Then, in the spring I took classes that actually used past exam questions and the manuals for the exams in class, so I was studying for the exam every time the class met. I owe a great deal of my success in the exams to this curriculum. Outside of classes, I had a lot of professional networking experiences that helped me build connections with actuaries from outside companies and helped me work on my professional social skills. Me and a few other students from Arcadia attended the Philadelphia Actuaries Meetings a couple times my sophomore year where we were able to sit through presentations about professionalism and interact with the speakers of each event. Additionally, Professor Pogrebivsky made it possible for me to shadow [link to Shadow Day on Website] AON last January and Independence Blue Cross last April. My interviewers for the Actuarial Career Day[link to article on Career Day 2019] from both those companies remembered me, which helped them better connect with me and allowed me to be more relaxed during the interview.
Q3: Tell us about the Actuarial Career Day. How do you think this event enhances Arcadia's Actuarial Science program?
The Actuarial Career Day[link to article on Career Day 2019] was absolutely amazing. It was so well organized and applying through the Office of Career Education at Arcadia was quick and easy. It takes a big weight off the shoulders of actuarial students who are actively looking for a job or internship. There is a big Career Fair here at Arcadia every year, but since the actuarial program here is so small compared to other programs here, especially the PT and PA programs in which I’d say 80% of students at Arcadia are enrolled, rarely do you find a company seeking actuarial interns or full-hires. At the Actuarial Career Day[link to article on Career Day 2019], every company is looking for actuaries, and since we partner with West Chester, it’s really enticing for big, well-known companies to come and seek prospective hires. So, not only do I get to interview for an internship that’ll prepare me specifically for a career as an actuary, the Actuarial Career Day[link to article on Career Day 2019] is right on campus, so I don’t have to go out of my way to seek a job and miss an entire day or two of classes to meet with different companies. For these specific reasons, it greatly enhances Arcadia’s actuarial science program. Where else can you find a school and program that not only successfully preps you for four exams, but makes finding an internship/job as easy as blinking? That’s just the program experience here at Arcadia, and the best part is that the staff just cares so much about their students. Their belief in me just makes me work harder.
Q4: What are your future aspirations or career plans?
I know for certain that I want to go all the way through the exam track and become an FSA (Fellow of the Society of Actuaries). Once I set my mind to something, I do it, so the thought of stopping after just a couple of exams never entered my mind. As far as what specific discipline I want to do, I am not really sure, but that’s the purpose of my summer internship; to help me discover my greatest interests. My internship with AON is for Retirement Consulting, and I won’t know if I love it or not unless I do it. If I like it, I’ll stick with it. If not, there are other paths, such as health and benefits or life insurance. I’m lucky to be in a major and career path that can be used for so many different things, so I can discover where my passions align with my future career.