Michael Jushchuk is an actuarial student at the University of North Carolina and will be entering his sophomore year this fall. Although only having completed one full year, Michael has already passed his first actuarial exam and plans to take his second exam this summer. He will also serve as CASO's (Carolina Actuarial Student Organization) treasurer next school year, and has been involved in talking to several classes at his high school about UNC's actuarial and MDS programs. We recently had the good fortune of speaking with Michael about his experience at UNC and why he was drawn to the actuarial field.
What influenced you to pursue being an actuary?
During my senior year of high school I was lucky enough to have the chance of taking math classes at UNC. That opportunity solidified my decision to major in math/statistics; however, I was still unsure about the career path I would pursue. Later that year, I stumbled upon BeAnActuary.org and started reading about what an actuary does. I liked the prospect of using my analytical skills in solving a variety of meaningful business problems. After passing the first examination, I felt more confident that I would be able make an impact as an actuary.
Why should other students consider a focus in Actuarial Science?
Students with strong math ability and determination should consider actuarial science. The most intimidating part of the actuarial career is the series of difficult credentialing exams. But as a fellow actuary put it, “stronger candidates will survive to the next exams.” If you can manage to advance through the exams, the rewards are worth it. Actuaries love to mention that their career is consistently number 1 in the job rankings, and for a good reason. Good pay, meaningful work, and a (relatively) low-stress environment are typical for the actuarial profession.
What has been your experience with Actuarial Science at your college?
UNC offers an actuarial track through their Mathematical Decision Sciences major and is home to the Carolina Actuarial Student Organization, affectionately abbreviated as CASO (pron. case-oh). Through CASO, I have found a group of exceptionally intelligent, friendly, and supportive individuals. We have held several career panels where actuaries have shared their experiences, advice, and personal thoughts on the profession. This past January, we were honored to have Tonya Manning, the President of the Society of Actuaries, talk about the developing role of actuaries in the future. Overall, I am thankful to be part of supportive community of students with access to such professional opportunities.
Have you participated in any internships, and if so, how many and how were they?
I am currently spending my summer taking courses at Kenan-Flagler Business School and studying for the second actuarial exam, Financial Mathematics. However, next summer I plan to be working at an internship. Along with UNC’s extensive actuarial alumni network, the senior members of CASO serve as individual mentors for the younger students searching for internships.
Please share an interesting or little-known fact you've learned about the world of actuaries...
The actuarial profession is likely one of the best careers that no one knows about. I have presented to several high school classes about careers involving mathematics. When I asked students what an actuary does, only about 10% had an idea!
What are the latest developments or trends in Actuarial Science?
The use of big data and predictive modeling is only going to become more pervasive in all industries, including insurance. Companies now have access to an enormous amount of information about current and potential policy holders. They are constantly developing models to sort through these data and find predictors for a customer’s riskiness. For example, whether or not a customer pays his bills on time could be used in a model to determine a more accurate risk profile of the customer.
What are your future aspirations and career plans?
I am fascinated by the processing of these ‘big data.’ I hope to leverage my future coursework and internships to gain more experience in this dynamic and growing field. The demand for actuaries is only expected to grow over the next decade, but having experience with big data and predictive modeling will be an exceptionally coveted skill.
Anything else you’d like to share?
The Society of Actuaries has a fitting motto: risk is opportunity. Regardless of which career path you choose to follow, don’t be afraid to seize opportunities when they present themselves. Stepping out of your comfort zone is a valuable part of both personal and professional development.