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  #11  
Old 03-23-2014, 10:35 PM
nonlnear nonlnear is offline
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Sorry, in my first scan of your post I missed the part about sponsorship. That definitely makes it harder. I married an American, which makes everything MUCH simpler. I highly recommend it if it's a viable option for you. Sponsorship issues aside, here are some (pretty scattered) thoughts from me to you:

Unless your academic background puts you in a position to apply directly to SME-type positions, you are just another entry level candidate. Yes, you have a PhD, but you really REALLY don't want to put too much faith in that getting you out in front in the EL market. With many employers it will be a negative, but that's irrelevant (other than inhow it informs your understanding of your application response rate). It won't be a negative with the employer who hires you.

Actuarial work is not mathematical. Really not. It's way more mathematical than almost any other standardized business role, but that's not saying much.

As an applicant, the biggest advantage your mathematical background will give you is the ability to knock out (at least some of) the exams quicker than others. Do that - and that means setting more aggressive targets for your exam progress than anyone normally recommends.

Once you get a job, there will be moments where your mathematical intuition is going to let you see things that most other wouldn't see, but that's about it. Be careful to make the most of those moments, but not too much.
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Originally Posted by K-Theory View Post
Which companies (and what roles) would you think are most likely to appreciate what I can bring to the table? And what do you see as most valuable in my background?
I can't speak for employers. Others will have better answers to this one.
Quote:
The work of predictive modelling, CAT risk modelling seem interesting to me. How would you recommend me to prepare myself for work in that direction? Any concrete action to take?
PM is just statistics. NTTAWWT, but it's nothing particularly special. Yes, it's one of the more mathematical work areas, but insurance isn't the only way into that world. It sounds like you want to head towards P&C, which is likely the best fit for you - in the insurance world.
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Is there anyone (or do you know someone) who was in a similar shoe before and willing to have an informational interview with me to share your experience and advice? (if you are local, I will buy coffee )
I was in a similar position except for the sponsorship issue. I'm probably not local, but you can PM me to see if I am or not.
Quote:
I bring with me:
  1. analytical skills from my PhD research
  2. communication skills from my extensive teaching experience
  3. leadership / teamwork experience from my community organization involvement
  4. not much recent experience of computer skills / non-teaching work experience
If true, those are good things. However, the cold hard truth is that lots of other applicants without PhDs have those same qualities. Yes, those things came from your PhD experience, but your PhD wasn't necessary to get them. I'm not knocking your PhD because I'm happy I got mine, but in the business world, the moments are few and far between where those letters actually matter.
Quote:
My preparation so far:
  • passed P/1 in Sept '13; sitting FM/2 in Apr '14
  • met with local actuaries and asked for their advice
  • joined Linkedin groups on actuary, subscribed to insurance journal to stay abreast of current trends in the industry
  • took Actuwaiters to learn Excel, VBA, ...; started on SAS E-learning to learn SAS Base Programming
Crush your exams faster. Or maybe broaden your search to some non-actuarial positions. There are lots of industries that use predictive modeling. Actuarial work is a good one, but it's far from the only one.

Oh, and how long is your resume?
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  #12  
Old 03-23-2014, 10:51 PM
MasterChief MasterChief is offline
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NTAWWT?
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  #13  
Old 03-23-2014, 10:56 PM
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Forever Student Forever Student is offline
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Originally Posted by MasterChief View Post
NTAWWT?
It's a typo. Borat says NAAWWT!
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  #14  
Old 03-24-2014, 12:59 AM
K-Theory K-Theory is offline
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Thanks for your reply!

Academic actuary: I have considered the 2-year college route, but it would not help me get anywhere nearly enough to feed my family (we just had a baby, that's part of the reason why I am rethinking the whole career thing). Plus, I don't think anything other than tenured professor will help resolve the problem with visa.

I think I am getting enough teaching experience, and more of that really would not help with my career - I would rather try to get an internship (no matter how low paid it is) to help me launch into my real career now that I decides that academia is not for me. Thanks for your suggestion though!

Terlin: Yes, I would need H1b after 29 months, but I am confident that I will win my employer's heart in that 1-2 yr period with the soft skills (as well as the quantitative skills) I have built up.

Masterchief: an alternative explanation to that suggested by FS - "Not that anything wrong with that" (from urban dictionary online)
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  #15  
Old 03-24-2014, 01:09 AM
K-Theory K-Theory is offline
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nonlinear: Thanks for taking your precious 1+ hour to compose a detailed reply and for offering many gems of wisdom! I appreciate all of it! No, marrying an US person is not an option as I am a happy young man with a lovely wife and new baby.

Yes, P&C is the route I am interested in. But I just read today on Act Outpost that hedging in Life seems pretty heavily mathematical too. Have you heard anything about it?

"Or maybe broaden your search to some non-actuarial positions. There are lots of industries that use predictive modeling."
That's an idea, but the problem is that it is not something that is not readily in my background. With my graduation approaching, I would need to sell on my current asset - buy more time and then maybe work on PM. Do you have any suggestion how one may best pick up PM or the like in a demonstrable way?

My resume is 1 page long.

It didn't matter if you are not local. If you have 30 minutes, I would like to connect with and hear your experience. I will send you a Private Message. Thank you!
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  #16  
Old 03-24-2014, 01:55 AM
Academic Actuary Academic Actuary is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by K-Theory View Post
Thanks for your reply!

Academic actuary: I have considered the 2-year college route, but it would not help me get anywhere nearly enough to feed my family (we just had a baby, that's part of the reason why I am rethinking the whole career thing). Plus, I don't think anything other than tenured professor will help resolve the problem with visa.

I think I am getting enough teaching experience, and more of that really would not help with my career - I would rather try to get an internship (no matter how low paid it is) to help me launch into my real career now that I decides that academia is not for me. Thanks for your suggestion though!

Terlin: Yes, I would need H1b after 29 months, but I am confident that I will win my employer's heart in that 1-2 yr period with the soft skills (as well as the quantitative skills) I have built up.

Masterchief: an alternative explanation to that suggested by FS - "Not that anything wrong with that" (from urban dictionary online)
You don't need tenure for sponsorship, you only need a tenure track appointment. You might be surprised how much you can make in some states at two year schools, especially if you can teach some summer courses.
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  #17  
Old 03-24-2014, 07:56 AM
Enough Exams Already Enough Exams Already is offline
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What's your finance/accounting/economics background like?

See, your math background isn't directly useful for a financial role like an actuary; non-commutative geometry doesn't come up in this field. What does come up is finance. And so far, it sounds like you have far more math than necessary, and far less finance and accounting that is required to understand what we do.

If I were taking resumes, and yours as put had come across my desk, you'd be thrown into the "Interview Later/If I Can't Find Anyone Else" pile. I'd be looking for someone who has had a corporate job before, has some background in finance, accouting or economics, and would expect less salary than I think a PhD would demand. Entry level folks don't make much, and with a PhD, I would expect you'd be looking to make more than I'm willing to offer an entry level person.

Quote:
Originally Posted by K-Theory View Post
Hi folks!

Thank you for the wonderful sticky tips for entry-level candidates. I found it to be really helpful. I have some questions specific to my situation. I am sorry as this is a long post, but hopefully it is well-formatted so that annoying-ness is minimized.

I am a 6th year Math PhD graduating in May 2014. (my story has some resemblance to that of yangmillstheory) My research area is Non-commutative geometry. Due to some changes in personal life, I decided last summer that the life in academia is not for me and I would like to pursue an actuarial career.

While I would want to have a career that can put my math skills to good use, I have no 'holier-than-thou' attitude and am willing to start off doing number-crunching actuarial assistant and build my career from there. But my career search so far seems to run into brick wall every direction due to my need for work visa sponsorship (after 29 months). It seemed that employers won't be willing to consider a sponsorship-needing candidate like myself (even for internship) unless they absolutely can appreciate the value of my background. So, here I come to you and ask for a bit of your wisdom:
  1. Which companies (and what roles) would you think are most likely to appreciate what I can bring to the table? And what do you see as most valuable in my background?
  2. The work of predictive modelling, CAT risk modelling seem interesting to me. How would you recommend me to prepare myself for work in that direction? Any concrete action to take?
  3. Is there anyone (or do you know someone) who was in a similar shoe before and willing to have an informational interview with me to share your experience and advice? (if you are local, I will buy coffee )

Thank you so much for all your help in advance!

I bring with me:
  1. analytical skills from my PhD research
  2. communication skills from my extensive teaching experience
  3. leadership / teamwork experience from my community organization involvement
  4. not much recent experience of computer skills / non-teaching work experience

My preparation so far:
  • passed P/1 in Sept '13; sitting FM/2 in Apr '14
  • met with local actuaries and asked for their advice
  • joined Linkedin groups on actuary, subscribed to insurance journal to stay abreast of current trends in the industry
  • took Actuwaiters to learn Excel, VBA, ...; started on SAS E-learning to learn SAS Base Programming
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  #18  
Old 03-24-2014, 08:48 AM
nonlnear nonlnear is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by K-Theory View Post
nonlinear: Thanks for taking your precious 1+ hour to compose a detailed reply and for offering many gems of wisdom! I appreciate all of it!
No problem. Just bear in mind that was really just some scattered thoughts. There are lots of things I didn't touch on that others will be better equipped to advise you about. And event he things I did touch on might be trumped by better advice. I wasn't really trying to craft the best advice for you, or a generic third person, but telling you what I wish I had known back then. It's what would have worked awell as advice for myself - which is usually what you get from people whenever you ask for advice.
Caveat lector.
Quote:
No, marrying an US person is not an option as I am a happy young man with a lovely wife and new baby.
Well I'm happy you're happy.
Did that happen to have something to do with why academia started looking less attractive? The whole "moving to a random location now now, and probably once or twice more in the next 10 years before we really settle down" thing? It's not so hard to swallow when you're single, but...
Quote:
Yes, P&C is the route I am interested in. But I just read today on Act Outpost that hedging in Life seems pretty heavily mathematical too. Have you heard anything about it?
I have heard that it can be very mathematical, and I am sure that it is true (at least in a sense), but I can't speak to what Life is like. I went P&C, and it was clear from early on that there were places in P&C that got to touch some non-boring techniques.
Quote:
"Or maybe broaden your search to some non-actuarial positions. There are lots of industries that use predictive modeling."
That's an idea, but the problem is that it is not something that is not readily in my background.
No offense, but neither is actuarial work. There are a lot of financial companies with international rotation programs that might be more open to an international applicant. And don't worry about whether the position you are onboarded into is mathematical or not. Many of them will have mathy places you can gravitate to, and if you end up at one that doesn't give you the opportunies you want, it's still a great first corporate job to have on an ex-academic resume.

Now, it might sound like I'm trying to dissuade you from actuarial work with these comments about trying elsewhere, the "no offense..." thing, etc. but I'm really not. Try for an actuarial job. It's a decent job. But try for other things too. You have very little to gain at this point from focusing your job search on just this one industry. Once you have your tools in place and have fired off your initial volley of applications, you can keep up a nationwide actuarial job search on 5-15 hours a week if you manage your time effectively. That leaves enough time to search in one or two other industries and develop your skills. Just don't fall into the trap of aimlessly clicking on company pages and job postings. It's easy to piss away 50 hours on a job search and only really accomplish 1-5 hours of real (job search) work. You have to be methodical and disciplined.
Quote:
With my graduation approaching, I would need to sell on my current asset - buy more time and then maybe work on PM. Do you have any suggestion how one may best pick up PM or the like in a demonstrable way?
Some others will be able to speak to that better than me.
Quote:
My resume is 1 page long.
Good.
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  #19  
Old 03-24-2014, 10:16 AM
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Yea. The actuarial profession isn't for quants imo. There's a fair bit of math and it takes that sort of mentality, but it's a business role all the same. My last FSA exam here has high-school level math on it. Granted, I need to know how one can defer the acquisition cost on a block of insurance under different reserve reporting methods... yada yada. You see what I mean.
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  #20  
Old 03-24-2014, 10:25 AM
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You can race Riley to FCAS and we can settle this physics major vs math major debate once and for all.
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