For many college students, the summer months are a time to take a break from the rigors of school work. For Emily Phillips, a junior actuarial science major at the UNL College of Business Administration, this summer has been an opportunity to explore future career options by interning at Lincoln Financial Group in Omaha, Neb. Phillips chose the internship even in the face of other tempting offers.
“I got a scholarship to study abroad in Oxford this summer but I knew I had to do this internship to make sure I was headed in the right direction,” Phillips said.
Phillips explained that the work to become an actuary involves a tremendous amount of time preparing for professional exams. The internship has helped show her that she is on the right career track.
“So far I’ve really liked it,” Phillips said. “I get assigned projects doing a lot of different things.”
After starting out by helping with more basic tasks like developing PowerPoint presentations, Phillips has moved on to core actuarial science work.
“The past month I’ve been working on a model to project financial results for the company. I use a lot of Excel spreadsheets with data that I pull in order to make the projections. Recently I had the opportunity to give a presentation of my work to one of the upper level managers. It was kind of scary but it is great how my work as an intern is actually being used by the company.”
Warren Luckner, director of UNL’s actuarial science program, stresses to students that their internships are an essential part of their college experience and makes them more marketable to employers.
“Internships provide students an introduction to actuarial work and the actuarial profession, and create a network of actuaries that can be helpful throughout their careers,” Luckner said.
Luckner noted Phillips’ excellence in the classroom and prior leadership role in developing the CBA Student Ethics Code as being part of the overall preparation for her internship success.
Emily Phillips (center) at Lincoln Financial Group
“The fact that Emily just completed her second year and has a summer actuarial internship with Lincoln Financial Group is an indication that her abilities and potential as an actuary are already recognized by actuarial employers.”
Phillips, who is from Overland Park, Kan., will have an opportunity to intern again next summer.
“My goal for next year will be to try and get an internship on the east coast to explore another area of the country,” Phillips said. “Even though I’d eventually like to work in the Midwest, I would also like to be able to say that I’ve tried other places to see what they’re like.”
Phillips may not participate in study abroad but she will still receive an experience to broaden her horizons.
“There are a lot of internships in the east in places like Hartford, Conn., which is right there between New York City and Boston, Mass. It would be a really cool place to be.”
Phillips credits Luckner for the strong internship opportunities available for UNL students.
“The reason I have this internship is because we have our own career fair in actuarial science,” Phillips said. “Warren does a really great job of running the program and connecting us with employers. Nebraska has a great reputation as one of the best actuarial science programs in the nation, and we’re a designated center of actuarial excellence.”
According to Phillips, the program brings out the best in students because of its well-rounded business focus.
“A lot of places stress the technical side of actuarial science,” Phillips said, “but we always are taught the professional business side as well. Everyone who graduates from our program is grounded in being a business professional as opposed to just being an actuarial science major. Having our program housed in a business college really strengthens our business opportunities.”
In all, over 20 actuarial science students have participated in internships this summer spanning locations across the U.S.