COVID-19, Cancelled Internships, and the Launch of the CAS Student Central Summer Program
In April 2020 word began to spread that actuarial students were having their summer internships shortened, altered, and in some cases, cancelled altogether. CAS President Steve Armstrong approached the University Engagement Committee (UEC) and proposed we find a way to assist these students by offering a program that would help them gain knowledge and experience similar to what an internship would have offered them.
The UEC immediately jumped into action and formed a task force to develop and launch the program by the start of summer. Erin Olsen, FCAS, Chair of the Task Force said, “Enabled by the catalogue of materials the committee has been developing over the last seven years, CAS volunteers and staff were able to quickly and thoughtfully create a program that would recreate some of the internship experiences that students were missing out on.” These materials were incorporated into a series of eight weekly modules that covered: Intro to P&C and Excel, Data Visualization, Ratemaking, Reserving, Predictive Modeling, and Soft Skills. The program culminated with an Auto Safety Features Case Competition, in which participants presented their final projects to a panel of practicing actuaries.
A key component of the summer program experience for the students was having access to actuarial mentors. CAS members across more than 50 companies, including Travelers, Uber, Willis Towers Watson, and many others, banded together and showed up in a big way to accommodate the larger than expected number of participants. In total, 94 P&C actuaries signed up as mentors, 23 as webinar presenters, and 19 as case competition judges, all demonstrating their commitment to helping students who represent the future of our industry and the actuarial profession. Speakers like Claudine Modlin and Jacqueline Friedland jumped at the chance to present to these students!
The program was officially announced in May 2020 and over 630 students applied to participate! The CAS was able to accommodate 155 students whose internships had been cancelled into the mentor-led program and offered an independent version of the program to the remaining applicants.
The 155 students were organized into 31 cohorts that met weekly. These teams also competed in the case competition. The 155 students represented eleven countries from more than 70 different universities.
Here is what program participants had to say about the program:
“I signed up for this program because my internship was cancelled, and I didn’t have much luck trying to find a new one…..I learned about real techniques that actuaries use for pricing and reserving that I wouldn’t have otherwise learned. The mentor and student cohort meetings allowed us to exchange ideas about the material from the week and learn more about the actuarial field from our mentors, which is very similar to experience I would have had with my internship.” - Lauren Gary, UT Dallas
“After my internship was rescinded, I was worried that I would not have the real-world experience in the actuarial field upon graduation. However, the CAS designed a unique program for students in my similar situation to gain the skills we would have otherwise missed out on…The mentors provided insight into ‘the day in the life of an actuary’ aspect of the profession. I rarely have the opportunity to interact with a practicing actuary… I now have a better understanding of P&C and have a greater interest in following down the CAS route.” - Arturo Corona, Roosevelt University
“This summer program provided an invaluable experience, from the weekly presentations and exercises to the mentor meetings. … One program highlight was the time spent with my cohort student peers working on the case study. I not only had the opportunity to share and learn new things, but I also got to learn more about my teammates and expand my network. Overall, I am grateful to the CAS for providing us with this alternate internship experience.” – Tamara Mambo, UT Dallas
“The summer CAS program has been a challenging and intriguing program for me, especially the CAS case competition. It demanded my problem-solving skills. I got to learn many tools and techniques that actuaries use to predict future outcomes. This program has boosted my appetite for studying actuarial science. Thanks to the CAS for providing me with this wonderful opportunity.” - Siddhanta Phuyal, DePauw University
“This program was great... the CAS leadership team asked for feedback from us throughout, reflected on it, and adjusted the program. As a student I really appreciated being asked for feedback, especially in an ongoing way.” - Woongchae Yoo, Georgia State University