Blog 68: Internship Mentality by Xavier Lo, FIA, FRM, MBA

Its nearly Christmas [聖誕節] and the end of another year. It is not uncommon for university students to take part in an internship programme [短期實習工] for maybe 3 months to half a year at the start of January. Hence it’s a good time to speak about how interns should approach their internship programme.

As university students (most likely in their second-last or final years), you might feel that you are the best as your subject and that there’s no problem you can’t solve. While this confidence [自信] is good, going from a full-time studying lifestyle to being an intern is quite similar to when you made the jump from primary school to secondary school: being the oldest to now being the most inexperienced [最無經驗]. You will quickly find that all your theoretical knowledge at university is not going to help you out much, as companies rarely ask you to solve algebra problems by hand. Be humble [謙虛], absorb as much as you can, and ask heaps of questions. People don’t expect interns to change their world, so there isn’t much pressure on you to know everything about work!

Another thing that you interns should bear in mind is to be open to speaking to everyone you meet. It doesn’t matter that you’re in the actuarial department and someone from a very non-technical team is coming to meet you, you will still learn something by speaking to them. There isn’t one department which is better than the others, so really pay your full attention [集中精神] to anyone who is willing to teach you. Better still, ask people out for coffee or lunch, or join your colleagues for after work events. You might find it tiring, but trust me, it will all be worth it in the end.

I’ve been an intern before, and I’ve looked after interns as well. Honestly, the biggest thing that I look for in an intern is not the technical knowledge or even for the intern to help me pick up a big chunk of my work (although this is a bonus) – I’m just looking for that youthful energy to make my work life more interesting!

Qualified fellow actuary (in UK and Hong Kong), Financial Risk Manager, and MBA graduate (listed on the Dean's List) with a passion for insurance, data science, and analytics. Experienced in a broad range of insurance roles (pricing, capital modelling, reserving, ERM), along with a touch of knowledge in banking. Member of the General Insurance Committee (2021), Actuarial Innovation Committee (2019 - 2021) in ASHK.

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