Should you take non-actuarial roles at the start of your actuarial career? – Part 1

Should you take non-actuarial roles at the start of your actuarial career? - Part 1

Indian Actuarial market has a remarkably high supply of young actuarial professionals, but the same can’t be said for it’s demand. Even after trying for many months, many freshers do not get an actuarial role for which they have studied day and night.

One approach that could increase the chances, is by first getting a non-actuarial job or internship and then after some time, moving into actuarial roles. In this article, I would be sharing an in-depth analysis of this topic, explaining how to find non-actuarial roles, their advantages, and disadvantages. I would also be publishing Part-2 of this article covering the ideal time to switch, my personal experience, and some FAQ’s.

Both the articles are written based on my own personal experience, a survey on LinkedIn (link at the end) responded by 365 people and interviewing over 15 people who have chosen this path. Hope you find this article insightful, if you don’t agree with any of my viewpoints I would love to hear your views and would happy to update the article also.

I also highly recommend this article to students who are currently pursuing their graduation as taking up an non-actuarial internship during summer vacations would help them in getting an actuarial job after they graduate.

What is a non-actuarial role? How could one apply for it?

Any job or internship which does not involve your actuarial knowledge is simply referred to here as non-actuarial role. There can be two areas where you work:

  1. Actuarial related areas

    Areas such as Finance, Investment Banking, Accountancy, Share market, data analyst, statistics related jobs. Working in these may directly or indirectly help you in your future actuarial jobs

  2. Non Actuarial areas

    Areas that are not closely related to actuarial and would not help you directly such as HR, Sales, Administrative roles, etc.

Now, how to find one. The best and the fastest way to find is by leveraging a network of your parents/friends/family. I am sure, they must have some reference to some business/company that may hire you, you just need to constantly follow up with them. You could also apply using LinkedIn, Naukri.com, and other sites.

Advantages – Why you should take a non-actuarial role?

I interviewed 15 people and ALL of them strongly recommend that a fresher should apply for non-actuarial roles and accept it with open arms. This is because of the following:

You learn

How to write emails, manage deadlines, office etiquettes, office politics, office discipline, new software’s, working in teams, what to say, how to say, what not to say, and many other things. These things cannot be taught through a course and only an internship/job can teach you.

If you got an actuarial related role, then you also might learn things that could be helpful in your actuarial job. But even if you don’t get actuarial-related role, you would still learn a lot which would reflect in your overall personality and skills.

Probability increases

I launched a small initiative where I with the help of Mitaksh (link at the end) created a google form where interested professionals can submit their details and interested freshers who want to get their cv reviewed. The idea was simple, to connect freshers who want to get their cv reviewed and professionals who want to help. I just created a process where it can happen and I immensely proud that although there were a lot of problems along the way, we managed to get all 60 freshers to get their CV reviewed by some professional. And do you know, out of those 60 how many of them have prior internship/work experience? Only 6 i.e. 10%.

The maths is simple, if you apply for a job there would 100% of people who have cleared actuarial exams and knows excel. But there would be only 10% of them that would have prior working experience. Whom do you think the company would prefer?

Doing something is better than waiting

It is no new fact that it can take many months on average to get your first break, despite how good you are. Some of my friends, who were really good at actuarial knowledge, communication skills and software knowledge, it took them more than 3 months just to get their first break. So, why not utilise that time to learn new things that would increase your chances in the future. Many people have done it and almost all (if not all) of them strongly vouch for it.

Disadvantage – What are things you cautious about?

They are still few things that you need to aware of before considering taking this career choice:

No Promotions

Many people have this expectation that once they leave their non-actuarial role, they would get a more responsible work or better job than a fresher, mostly that would never be the case. You would be still treated as a fresher only and it’s practical also.

Staying updated

New place, new work, and new people and it’s obvious that initially, it would be hard for you to keep clearing exams, staying updated with industry knowledge and sharping your skills but that’s very important because remember you are working to get exposure and learnings that would help you reach your ultimate goal.

Also, you do not want to stay for too long as then it could become a major disadvantage, as companies usually do not prefer people who have 1-3 years of non-actuarial experience for a fresher role. So, do not get too busy, focus on what is more important.

Still Looking for an actuarial role

Most people do this mistake, and they do not realize the gravity of it. The mistake is to keep looking for an actuarial role and not focusing 100% on their current role. This result is NO learnings which do more harm than good. Remember, the purpose of working in the non-actuarial role is to learn and get exposure through which you would become better and thus your chances of hiring would increase, but to do that you need to learn first! Searching for a non-actuarial role constantly is not

recommended. The ideal approach is to work for a dedicatedly few months/weeks>> gain learnings/experience/confidence >> apply for actuarial jobs >> showcase your skills >> Welcome onboard

Willing to take risk

There is a good chance that your non-actuarial role could be good and satisfying, making it harder for you to leave it. If you are loving it and enjoying every day at work, it’s absolutely okay to stay in the role and forget about actuarial as a career, I know it’s hard since you have worked so hard to clear those exams but trust me it’s absolutely fine. Actuarial is a great career, but it doesn’t mean other careers are any less than it and I think, it is better to do what you love.

But if you are not loving it and you just feel comfortable and not sure whether to leave or not. Then ask yourself, should I take the risk, what’s the best and worst possibility?, What if it works, what if it doesn’t work?, Whom can I consult about this?. Forcing yourself to know the above answers would help you gain a lot of clarity and could guide you to switch or not.

If you are still not clear then I suggest, take the risk and switch. Sometimes, you just need to try it, to find out. Don’t overanalyze as it certainly won’t matter in the next 2-3 years. Remember, the risk is an opportunity.

I hope you enjoy reading this far. Part-2 of this article would be published tomorrow, where I would share the ideal timing to make the switch, my personal experience and some FAQ’s. We have more related articles which could help you to grab actuarial jobs. You can read them here.

Survey on LinkedIn.

You can connect with me on LinkedIn at Arpit Surana. Connect with Mitaksh here.

Vice President of The Actuarial Club

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