Job Search Jackpot

Jenn Milord, B.S. Mathematics, NJIT; Member IABA

Jenn Milord, B.S. Mathematics, NJIT; Member IABA

Hey there! If you’re reading this as an actuarial candidate, then first off, GO YOU! I have been an avid user of the SOA’s candidate resources ever since I learned about the term “actuary.” Surprisingly that was only six years ago, and since then, I majored in Math with a concentration in Actuarial Science and Finance at NJIT. It was a great ride, but I wanted to do more than have a concentration to jumpstart my career. Because I was either working and/or taking classes, I did not have the option of doing an internship. The question was, “How do I get a foot in the door?” I knew I needed an edge and that a proven way to get that was to meet people. I’ve always been the social type, so I figured I’d just try my luck and find actuaries in my area. Simple right? Ask 20 random people if they are actuaries the next time you’re out shopping, and see how far you get.

I found SOA’s Explorer tool by chance while browsing their website one day. The SOA Explorer tool (requires username and password) is a virtual global map that shows where SOA members, employers and universities with actuarial programs are located. I thought it was a cool idea, but I hesitated at first thinking that I’d come off a bit stalker-esque. A short time later, I tuned into the SOA Candidate Connect Webcast: The Essentials of an Actuarial Career. It just so happened that one of the actuaries/speakers had a colleague who would just meet actuaries and simply network. Major sign! I decided to try it and almost kicked myself for not going for it sooner. I zoomed into my area on the map and was pleasantly surprised to see how many ASA’s and FSA’s were right around the corner from me. It’s possible that I could have passed some at the supermarket with no knowledge of a missed connection. Anyway, I began my hunt by writing down a few names with their contact info.

Explorer made it very easy providing the emails and/or numbers as well as their location on a map (FSAs and ASAs in Explorer have consented to having their information displayed in the directory.) I figured a brief meeting over coffee was not much of an imposition and proceeded to contact them. A simple email introducing myself and explaining that I wished to get to know more about them paid off. Of the maybe six or seven greetings I sent at first, four replied!

The first response I received was from an FSA named Judy. She was so pleasant and grounded. We met at Starbucks, and she laid out her career path, gave me great advice about my own search and even left me with a few more contacts to get in touch with. My second meeting was with another FSA named Bob, who worked at a small consulting and data solutions firm in a building I’d passed several times and did not know existed. He did more technical type work and actually has his own operation in the making. Talk about inspiration! I learned so much from both these individuals and couldn’t have asked for smoother networking opportunities.

As more replies to my emails rolled in, I felt like I’d hit the job search jackpot with Explorer. Of course I applied formally to jobs and took other steps to network as well. For example, I attended the SOA Candidate Connect event at Life and Annuity Symposium in NYC as a candidate, business cards and resumes in-hand.

There are several ways job hunters break into the field, but I could not stress the importance and value of taking the initiative to meet people and network enough. Explorer was a dream come true – it opened doors that something like a Google search for ‘actuaries close to me’ definitely could not. Finding professionals through this tool also gave me a sense of security, knowing that the institution listing them actually designated them. It was very convenient and listed everything you’d need to narrow your search. I personally went for FSAs in my county that appeared to live near me so that meeting could be easy for them. I’ve found that if you cross-reference a group of 2+ actuaries in one location with a map, it is pretty much a company branch. But hey, when you use it, go for anyone you think will possibly want to meet up.

Being an actuary does not mean shutting out everything that isn’t work (as the common stereotype goes). Professionals are people too, and many are ready and willing to be mentors, even if only for a day. A few simple lunch meetings led not only to connections, but more importantly, to my name being out there. All this would not have come about so conveniently had it not been for the SOA’s resources for us candidates. I’d urge anyone to try Explorer and see what comes of it. I’m sure actuaries everywhere would agree: you never know what will happen!


Jennifer worked in the metal industry as a claims manager while in school. She was a member of the NJIT Actuarial Society and served as its president her final year there. With a B.S. in Mathematics of Finance & Actuarial Science, she is working towards her Associate designation and has passed two exams. While job-seeking and studying for her third exam, she volunteers with youth and psychiatric patients in NJ.

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