How does a virtual actuarial internship work?
Internships are extremely useful opportunities for students aspiring to enter the actuarial profession after their studies. Traditionally, an actuarial internship would involve you attending an employer’s office for up to eight weeks, working on projects and getting an insight into how the employer assists their clients with their actuarial needs.
You will sit in a small team, working with current graduates and more senior team members, receiving technical training and gaining an understanding of the career path that lies ahead. There will be the opportunity to attend talks and workshops and a traditional internship will provide you with the opportunity to work on ‘live’ client matters.
However, due to the outbreak of COVID-19, actuarial internships are being hosted virtually in 2020 and this may start a trend of future internships being hosted virtually in the future. As you’d expect, there are some similarities between a traditional internship and a virtual internship, but there are also some differences.
Similarities & differences
Firstly, the application process for the internship is likely to be similar. Actuarial employers use their internships as a way to find talented students so the existing rigorous process is likely to stay the same. Additionally, the talks and workshops that you attend during the internship can easily be delivered virtually using video conferencing technology such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
However, there are some key differences, the first and most obvious being the fact that you will not attend employer offices when they undertake a virtual internship. Despite this, you should still dress in business casual attire, as you may be appearing on camera and interacting with senior personnel. On top of this, you need to make sure that they have access to a good, stable internet connection and a quiet environment. You can test your internet connection at Fast.com, and it is recommended that you have speeds of 10Mbps (megabits per second).
A second difference is that there will be even more structure to the virtual internship. The employer will put together a full programme of events, talks and workshops to mitigate against the fact that it is more difficult to assign projects or work when the internship is being delivered virtually.
A consequence of this is that the virtual internship may be shorter than a traditional internship, but this in no way removes any value from the experience and insight it provides. As mentioned, internships will still be used by actuarial employers to source talent for their graduate programmes and you may not work on live projects or client work, but employers will still set you example individual and group projects that allow you to develop their skills, insight into the industry, and professional network.
Networking, buddies & pay-day!
That’s really where the differences end. You will still be paired with a buddy during their internship and meet other people in the organisation, albeit via a video conferencing platform. This allows you to expand their professional network and ask any questions you have about the sector or industry.
Employers also pay their interns for the duration of their programme, and this should not change either.
Virtual internships, like their traditional counterparts, are valuable experiences, allowing you to gain an insight into the actuarial industry, enhance your skills and expand your professional network. Whilst there may be more structure to the sessions and a little less ‘live’ client work, virtual internships are an essential stepping stone to securing an actuarial graduate role.