An unexpectedly actuarial summer

When I submitted my application for the actuarial internship program of MBPS, I really didn’t expect to get accepted. The dean said that the odds were against me since they only take in one or two students, and that I’m better off applying for employment since I’m about to graduate anyway. My resume was not that impressive ’cause I didn’t join any noteworthy events or organizations my whole college life, and I also didn’t feel confident about the interview. With those things in mind, I crafted a Plan B for the summer vacation, which was to aid in the intellectual growth of my favorite brother. Needless to say, I was astonished to receive an email from Mr. Wallis (head of the actuarial division) notifying me that I’ve been selected.

Fast forward to two months later: the program has come to an end, and now we interns feel sentimental about leaving behind the routine we’ve built over the course of the program after all the effort towards trying to get used to it. Naturally my friends will ask, “How was it?” so I feel compelled to come up with an elevator-pitch answer (and maybe elaborate a bit until the nostalgia wears off). Let me start by telling about the events and/or my impressions in no particular order:

  • On the first day I discovered that I was the only one from senior year there, the rest of the interns were juniors.
  • We were expected to have a daily total working time of 8 hours and a 1.5 hour lunch break.
  • We were divided among different actuarial teams who were assigned to take us under our wing. My team mateΒ Justine and I think we got lucky with our team ’cause we often got treated to free food. πŸ™‚
  • The “production area” was where we spent most of our time. Bringing of cameras and personal gadgets (exceplt dedicated music players) were prohibited to protect data and customer privacy, they say. I had to bring a notebook everyday to keep a copy of the things I learn.
nope

for obvious reasons

  • Everyone could access the actuarial division files, which was very convenient for shared work. A goldmine of study materials were available, and so were the individual files of all the members of the division (which we tried secretly accessing, of course). I personally benefited from exploring my coordinator’s folder, where I got inspiration for my elaborate life planner in MS Excel and where I found out about an upcoming concert of Twenty One Pilots, my favorite band! (we ended up finding one another in the concert and watching together :D) On my free time I perused some reviewers for Exam P and read as much as I could from Benjamin Graham’s The Intelligent Investor.
  • We interns were working on different kinds of things, so our working experiences were different (except for Justine and I, who were grouped with each other until the end). I worked on model documentations under the Indonesia Valuation team and compared calculators for the newly-established Standard Life team.
  • Despite that, we were given training sessions as a group. I learned how to use MS Excel extensively, a little about MS Access (I actually didn’t learn it very well :-/), and quite a bit about AXIS (more out of necessity for the Standard Life work than from the training sessions though).
  • Naturally we interns have been lunch-buddies since day 1. My favorite part of a regular work day is when we stay in the cafeteria after finishing lunch and play card games (thanks to my growing collection) with one another until free time runs out. This was mainly how we developed friendships with one another.

lunch1lunch2

snack

  • Halfway into the internship program, Tristan, one of my BS Math batchmates, became part of the actuarial division. I was secretly overjoyed of course, it felt like finding a fellow countryman overseas. Since he’s part of our age group, we constantly invited him to have lunch with us and take part in our games.
  • Some of the challenges I encountered: The prod area was too cold for me most of the time, sometimes the computers were too laggy to function, and the mismatches between the availability of software and the person assigned to a cubicle due to the regular change of seat assignments presented a great inconvenience. But we managed to work around everything (and I had to bring many layers of clothing to work even on a hot summer day, haha).
  • There was an unlimited supply of free instant coffee in the pantry, which was very convenient, especially in the afternoon. Whenever someone comes back from a business trip, people gather in the pantry for “treats”. πŸ˜€

donuts

  • Mr. Wallis is well-respected for his achievements in the actuarial field and is regarded by everyone as the “best boss ever”. I personally found him to be adorable. πŸ˜€ I like chill but responsible bosses in general.
  • In the last few weeks we were also given speech training in the form of toastmasters and a presentation. In spite of having the most fear of public speaking in the room, I survived and got constructive and feel-good comments from everyone. πŸ˜€

ice cream

  • Two weekends before the final day, we had a successful team-building session. Successful by what measure? Although most of us were already pretty close, I was still kinda emotionally distant from them, especially from a guy who I found very hard to like. It was in that event where I found common ground with him and learned to appreciate him. We shared a lot of fun bonding moments which left me feeling clingy by the time we had to part ways. I guess I believe in the power of team-building sessions now. πŸ™‚

TB1

TB2

TB3

  • I really appreciate that the people there weren’t as intimidating as they first seemed, they were actually nice and helpful with our work. And I really like how their community is so warm and tightly-knit, that they really put time and effort to pooling greetings and planning out events to make people’s birthdays and promotions extra special and use it as an opportunity for bonding. We interns were fortunate to have witnessed a rare (and surprise) pre-nuptial celebration for two members of the division and a Hawaiian-inspired birthday bash for Mr. Wallis.

actuarial division

  • A few days ago, we had a personal interview with Mr. Wallis for the sake of evaluating our internship experience. I’ve always wondered how he was able to accomplish the feat for which everyone in the division is so proud of him: achieving an FSA designation before turning 30, and asked him for insights on how to take the same path even with my utter lack of self-confidence. Remembering his advice gives me the inspiration I need. πŸ™‚
  • And yesterday was when we gave our final presentations to the actuarial division. A few hours earlier I didn’t even think I’d survive the report (due to stage fright) but I did, thanks to my teammates’ moral support. We also had an awarding ceremony, and I got the “Most Curious” award, most likely owed to the things I learned from my coordinator’s personal folder, among all the other company files. XD I’m glad that they recognize my passion for learning. πŸ™‚ They hosted a goodbye party for us and we took a tour around the office one last time.

A

That’s everything, in a nutshell. I’m so lucky to have been given a chance to participate in this internship program. And surely the next batch will have an even better experience once the coordinators implement the improvements we suggested. πŸ™‚

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