As part of the Inside Careers series of graduate Employer Q&As in December 2012, leading actuarial employer Aon answered your questions.

Find out more about opportunities at Aon.

The Questions

What do you look for in applicants for Aon’s graduate schemes and summer internships?

Are actuarial jobs generally office based? Would you describe an actuarial role as mostly number crunching, or are people skills an important part of the job? 

I would like to work in Canada, is it possible for British graduates to apply for Aon offices abroad? 

Will you be offering sandwich places or industrial placements for the year 2013/14? Is it worthwhile sending in a speculative CV even if you are not? 

What tasks and daily activities do Aon’s actuarial graduates get involved in? 

How open are Aon to recruiting mature graduates who are seeking a career change from an unrelated field? 

Will Aon be hiring any international graduates this year? If so, what is the procedure? 

How different is the work in pensions compared with general insurance, and how easy is it to swap between the two? 

How can graduates without actuarial training gain experience? Is it possible to get a job as an actuary without prior experience? 

What are the most valuable characteristics, skills or former experiences when you select a trainee actuary? 

What makes Aon’s actuarial scheme stand out from its competitors? 

When do graduates joining Aon’s graduate training scheme start work? How long does the training last? Are there any part-time opportunities? 

For the Investment Consulting programme, what is the most popular qualification route for someone who has obtained the IMC: the actuarial exams or CFA? 

Is the option of studying for the Imperial MSc Actuarial Finance available to those on the Actuarial General Insurance programme as well as the Actuarial Consulting Pensions programme? 

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The Answers

What do you look for in applicants for Aon’s graduate schemes and summer internships? Is there anything I could do to make my application stand out and give me a better chance of success?
Dario, University of Southampton 

We’re looking to learn about you outside of your educational background. We want to know what you have learnt through your experiences at university, work experience and through extracurricular activities and how these can be applied to the role you’re applying for.

Please see the Application Process section of our website for more details on the metrics and competencies we look for as a company.

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Are actuarial jobs generally office based? Would you describe an actuarial role as mostly number crunching, or are people skills an important part of the job?
Loh, Dublin City University

Actuarial graduates are instantly made part of the team with technical work passed down to them from day one. In the Actuarial Consulting – Pensions programme at Aon, typical jobs include calculating the actuarial value of a member’s pension and updating the client on the health of their scheme’s funding, however you will experience a wide variety of tasks within just your first months.

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I would like to work in Canada, Is it possible for British graduates to apply for Aon offices abroad? 
Charlotte, Swansea University

Would it be possible to transfer to Aon’s Ghanaian office (my home country) if I were successfully recruited by Aon in the UK?
James, Heriot-Watt University  

Unfortunately we only accept applications for our UK programme through out current website. Applications to other countries should be made via their local websites.

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Will you be offering sandwich places or industrial placements for the year 2013/14? Is it worthwhile sending in a speculative CV even if you are not?
Shashini, University of East Anglia 

Do you have industrial placement schemes for penultimate year students?
Viral, University of Kent 

Unfortunately we do not currently offer industrial placements.

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What tasks and daily activities do Aon’s actuarial graduates get involved in?
David, Dublin City University  

Everyone works in the office in an open plan layout. You have frequent contact with consultants and qualified actuaries and are likely to be going to client meetings within the first few years of being here.

People skills are important for being an actuary and are even more necessary for consultants. Calculations underpin most of the consulting we do, however the advice often involves taking the figures and communicating the impact to the client and explaining how issues may be resolved.  However, if you prefer to be performing calculations all the time there are some opportunities to follow a more technical role.

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How open are Aon to recruiting mature graduates who are seeking a career change from an unrelated field? Do you have any recommendations to such individuals who seek to join a graduate scheme at a later age than typical graduates? 
Robert, University of Southampton  

Although I have no experience in the actuarial area, I have many years of work experience in the financial services industry. Can I still apply for Aon’s graduate programme? Do you have other opportunities at Aon?
Leona, Cass Business School and Luke, Brunel University & London South Bank University  

Our graduate programme has been developed for individuals with little or no work experience and the training is tailored accordingly. As a general rule we consider it suitable for those who have graduated within the past 2 years.

We do recruit entry level roles on an ongoing basis via out generic careers website which may be more suitable for mature students or those looking for a change in career.

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Will Aon be hiring any international graduates this year? If so, what is the procedure? 
Ganesha, University of Kent

Do you accept international students with a Tier 4 visa? If successful, would you sponsor our visa?
Andy, University of Bath 

Unfortunately we are only able to accept applications for our Graduate Programme from individuals who are eligible to work in the UK.

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How different is the work in pensions compared with general insurance, and how easy is it to swap between the two?
James, University of York

Some of the skills used are quite different. However, actuarial qualifications are incredibly transferable and there are examples of people switching between the two programmes. At the end of the day, if you are keen for a secondment to one of Aon’s many different departments, or even to a client, there are opportunities out there.

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How can graduates without actuarial training gain experience? Is it possible to get a job as an actuary without prior experience? 
Nevin, Birkback College

It is not assumed that graduates have an actuarial background. Numeracy skills are important however degrees range from maths and physics to chemistry and engineering. You learn to become an actuary on the job. Aon will support your studies and give you the necessary time off the gain the actuarial qualification.

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What are the most valuable characteristics, skills or former experiences when you select a trainee actuary? 
Diane, University of Kent and Nashe, University of Kent

You need a well rounded skill set mostly importantly communication and numeracy skills. We are always looking for talented individuals that can fit into the team and show a genuine interest in working here. When you arrive you will follow a career development plan to ensure that you move in the direction that you feel best suited to.

People skills are important for being an actuary and are even more necessary for consultants. Calculations underpin all the consulting that we do, however the advice often involves taking the figures and communicating the impact to the client and explaining how issues may be resolved. If you’d prefer to be preforming calculations all the time there are some opportunities to follow a more technical role.

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What makes Aon’s actuarial scheme stand out from its competitors?
Kiran, King’s College London  

The wealth of study support and training, the exposure to a varied range of well known clients, but most of all the people. From actuarial students to senior partners, people here are so approachable and nearly always have time to help you, be it with a specific task or more generally to help develop your career.

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When do graduates joining Aon’s graduate training scheme start work? How long does the training last? Are there any part-time training opportunities?
Tinaz, University of Northumbria

Initial training is currently your first two weeks on the job to give you the foundation knowledge of what will be needed in the office. After this, most of the actual work that you do is learnt on the job with you actively doing work from your first day. Technical training is then provided regularly in your first year as you grain more experience.

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For the Investment Consulting programme, what is the most popular qualification route for someone who has obtained the IMC: the Actuarial exams or CFA?
Sarah, University of York 

Roughly half our Investment Consulting students opt to study for the Actuarial exams while the other half choose the CFA route. The decision depends on the area of our business you’re working in and your own personal interest.

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Is the option of studying for the Imperial MSc Actuarial Finance available to those on the Actuarial General Insurance programme, as well as the Actuarial Consulting Pensions Programme? 
David, University of Southampton

Do you recommend/prefer graduates on the scheme to take the Imperial MSc Actuarial Finance or the Actuarial Profession exams?
Paula, University of Northampton

The Actuarial Consulting – General Insurance currently only supports the traditional route of study for the Actuarial qualifications, not the Imperial MSc Actuarial route.

Students on the Actuarial Consulting – Pensions programme are given the opportunity to study for the MSc at Imperial depending on their performance in their first year’s exams. The decision on how to study is entirely a personal one dependent upon your own study habits.

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