• Role: Actuarial Trainee
  • Location: Liverpool
  • University: Manchester
  • Degree: Mathematics & Physics
  • Organisation: Barnett Waddingham

Ewan Miller

Should I apply for an internship? Where should I apply? What will I do and will I enjoy it? These are the type of questions I had before starting my summer internship in 2012 at the actuarial firm Barnett Waddingham, and I imagine there are similar questions you are asking yourself.

Applying for an internship

After reading about actuarial work and deciding it was the area I wanted to learn more about, an internship was the best way to gain invaluable experience. I had no definite plans for my career, so I felt that I could use my time with Barnett Waddingham to help me decide whether this would be an area I would like to pursue. An internship also looks impressive to employers when starting your career.

When applying for internships, it is essential to remember that the quality of your applications is more important than the quantity you submit. Do as many applications as you wish, as long as you put effort into each one. Many application processes require you to pass online mathematical and logical tests, followed by a telephone interview and a final assessment day. For the interviews, be sure to know:

  • To which company you have applied and why.
  • What the position involves and why you are interested.

Finally, be knowledgeable about everything you have written on your CV.
Barnett Waddingham was a company that attracted me due to their integrity, professionalism and work ethic, factors much appreciated by their clients. The training and structured career path also appealed to me.

Starting my internship

The Barnett Waddingham internship began with a two day induction course, where all successful applicants met at one of their seven offices to be introduced to actuaries and given information about what they do. This included:

  • Details on UK pension structure and laws.
  • Basic actuarial mathematics, which we would go on to use throughout the internship.
  • How to use Barnett Waddingham’s computer systems.

Everyone was amazingly welcoming, and the event gave everyone a solid basis on which to build.

My first day at the Liverpool office involved introducing me to the team, being made aware of all the various regulations I should follow and setting up my desk space. I was to work alongside about ten actuaries and many others from various departments. I was given a fantastic opportunity to gain experience of a variety of different areas that Barnett Waddingham operates in. This allowed me to find which sector I enjoyed the most.

My main duties consisted of:

  • Calculating the cost of pension schemes using the company’s custom-made Excel spreadsheets. Specifically, a typical calculation could include determining the total amount to be paid by the scheme using information on the number of individuals in the scheme and the amount of pension each has accumulated.
  • Word processing reports for trustees, explaining the significance of the calculated figures.
  • Contacting clients and business partners to keep them updated with our work, or to ask for further details on the pension scheme.
  • Completing a project set at the beginning of the two months, about how the company could attract high quality students from my university. I had to research using a variety of sources and put together a presentation, which I gave to the rest of the actuarial team. I was trusted to manage my time in order to complete the project alongside client work.

I learnt many things from my internship, including how to work in an office environment and how to present myself in a professional manner on the phone and in emails. I began to explore the mathematical intricacies involved in actuarial work with the assistance, guidance and patience of my colleagues. It is important to remember that you are truly indebted to everyone who uses their own valuable time to help you.

The support from the entire company was evident from the beginning: the IT services were available at any time to provide assistance and the rest of the office would offer help when needed. This team-focused atmosphere is part of what made Barnett Waddingham such a great place to work, sharing client work and using any free time to assist in finishing work before deadlines.

The most enjoyable part was the feeling of being a valued member of a team, and not just another employee, as you could find at some bigger companies. The hardest bit was getting used to working 9 to 5, as it meant going to sleep early for a change!

During my two months with Barnett Waddingham, I met and worked with many friendly people. The team made a real effort to involve me not just in their jobs, but also outside the office, such as Young Professionals events in the city, games nights and sporting events. I was extremely grateful and delighted when a month after my internship, I was offered and accepted a full-time position with the company. I am looking forward to starting out in my chosen profession with such a supportive practice.

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