Amanda Bentivegna is a senior at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, where she is triple majoring in actuarial science, mathematics, and economics. Amanda recently completed a summer internship at Milliman Inc. in Indianapolis, Indiana. We spoke with Amanda in August 2021.
Tell us one thing about you that’s not on your resume.
I spend a lot of time outdoors. I like to walk, bike, wakeboard, kayak, sail, swim, hike, and ski. I enjoy exploring the world around me. I often invite friends and family and it is great spending time with them.
What has your experience at Otterbein been like?
My experience at Otterbein has been great. Otterbein is a relatively small school; it is easy to get to know students and staff. My professors are supportive and encouraging. They are extremely knowledgeable and adapted well during the pandemic. I have met many of my friends from Greek Life and taken on significant roles in our sorority. Returning to school to begin my senior year is an exciting time for me.
What other schools were you considering, and why did you choose Otterbein?
When choosing a college, I also considered Ohio State. Both schools, Otterbein and Ohio State, have great actuarial programs. In deciding to go to Otterbein, I made much of my decision based on the campus atmosphere. Otterbein is located in my hometown, Westerville, Ohio, and I already knew the campus well from tours and trips to the university for basketball competitions in high school. I knew it would be easy to get to know other students at Otterbein because there are only about 3,000 students at Otterbein compared to about 65,000 at Ohio State. There are also smaller class sizes, which makes direct help from professors easier. I also chose Otterbein because of its close-knit community.
Through the actuarial science program, there have been opportunities to attend job shadowing, be involved in a mentorship program as a mentee, attend Actuarial Science Club, or gain additional support through peer-led actuarial exam forums.
I also chose to go to Otterbein over Ohio State because with financial aid, Otterbein was a lot less expensive for me than Ohio State. It taught me how important it is to apply to more schools than you might think are necessary because the cost from one school to another can vary widely. For me, there was a significant difference between the schools, how much I would have to pay, and what I might owe after graduation. Otterbein won me over from a cost/benefit perspective.
What influenced you to pursue an actuarial science program?
Ever since I was in elementary school, I wanted to go into a mathematical field. I loved solving problems, and I excelled at it too. At the time though, I did not know of the career opportunities that there were in analytics. In high school, I looked online and discovered more opportunities. I considered finance and accounting, but I did not believe that they would challenge me mathematically. I discovered actuarial science from my dad who suggested it to me in high school. As I researched it further, I realized that actuarial science fit well with what I wanted to do. I decided in my junior year in high school to pursue an actuarial science program.
As a part of my actuarial science program, I did take several classes in finance, accounting, and economics. This gave me a better understanding of other opportunities. However, I realized that actuarial science was what I truly wanted to pursue.
Why should other students consider a focus in actuarial science?
Other students should consider a focus in actuarial science because it is challenging but rewarding. You must work at it to be successful. There are times when you must problem-solve to find a solution. Many enjoy the analytical nature of it. There are also a variety of roles to choose from with an actuarial science education.
What has been your experience with the actuarial science program at your school?
Throughout my experience with the actuarial science program, the classes and professors have been great. They encourage us every day. What we learn prepares us well for an actuarial career. The professors evolve curriculum and class offerings to prepare students for new industry demands.
Outside of the courses we take as a part of an actuarial science major, there have been many other opportunities available for students. Through the actuarial science program, there have been opportunities to attend job shadowing, be involved in a mentorship program as a mentee, attend Actuarial Science Club, or gain additional support through peer-led actuarial exam forums. There is also support for students through the Center for Career and Professional Development for writing resumes and finding jobs and internships. Tutoring is also available for students who need additional help with class concepts. These opportunities help students discover and reach their goals.
I learned a lot from Otterbein’s Actuarial Science Club. The club helps actuarial students learn more about the insurance field and form connections with industry professionals from local companies. Many of those that visit have graduated from Otterbein’s actuarial program in prior years and are now working in actuarial science or product management roles. During these visits, they give students information about internships and career openings, explain to students what they look for in applicants, and answer student questions. Attending club meetings helped me learn what I needed to do to successfully obtain an internship offer.
Many students are successful at finding internships and jobs. Although not all actuarial majors go into an actuarial role, many are able to find jobs and are successful in other roles within data analytics, finance, or insurance. This is beneficial because one’s degree can be used in a variety of roles, which allows students to find work that best suits their strengths and ambitions.
What is your favorite class so far and why?
My favorite class so far was Financial Mathematics, which prepared us for the actuarial exam, FM. I took the class in the fall semester of my freshman year. Not only did I learn topics within financial mathematics, but I also gained a better understanding of insurance in general. It confirmed my interest in pursuing an actuarial career.
What is unique about focusing on actuarial science relative to other majors you could have chosen?
Something unique about actuarial science relative to other majors is the importance of the professional certification gained through passing rigorous actuarial exams that we study for in college and continue to study for after graduation. Because of this, even after graduating from college and beginning to work full time, there is still a large emphasis on studying and self-improvement. Education is a lifelong journey that does not end regardless of university degrees.
What has been most challenging about studying actuarial science? Is there anything you wish you would have known ahead of time?
I think that the most challenging thing about studying actuarial science is time management. We are always pulled in different ways and must prioritize our time, but this is especially true when studying actuarial science.
One thing I learned from a peer in school was about online study courses such as Coaching Actuaries. This was a game-changer for me, and I wish I knew about it ahead of time because it helped me study more efficiently.
Have you had any insurance-related internships? If so, how was your experience?
This past summer, I had a 10-week internship at Milliman, Inc. in Indianapolis, Indiana. It was an amazing experience because I was able to move to a new city, form connections with peers, and build upon the skills that I gained in college.
Milliman is a consulting company, and at the Milliman office, much of what they do is healthcare consulting. I specifically worked on consulting for Medicaid. Much of what I did was working with SAS and Excel, and I learned a lot more about the functionality of these programs.
Milliman created great opportunities and experiences for the interns. We also had lunch-and-learn experiences learning how to communicate, present, and use programs more effectively and gaining a better understanding of industry-specific knowledge. We had one-on-one meetings with others in the company to learn more about the organization and how each person advanced in their career to where they are now. At the end of the internship, we presented the project we worked on and what we learned from the experience. These additional activities enhanced the internship.
One highlight of the internship was meeting the other actuarial interns. We would talk about work, our personal lives, exam progression, and our goals. We often met up and spent time together outside of work. We have kept in touch even after this past summer’s internship.
What are the latest developments or trends in insurance that are of interest to you?
I am interested in seeing how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect insurance in the future because of changes in future expectations and behavior. Many have started working from home in response to the pandemic. This will likely affect the workforce and peoples’ daily habits long term. Insurance companies will also have to adapt to the new changes in behaviors and the possibility of future pandemics.
What are your future aspirations or career plans?
I plan to continue to work in an actuarial role and aspire to become a certified actuary. I want to go into the Life/Health side of actuarial science since I worked in that area for my internship and enjoyed my experience. I anticipate finishing the ASA requirements in the next two to three years and will start working towards the FSA after that. In five to ten years, I hope to be able to lead a team and help others to complete projects.
What advice would you give someone interested in the insurance field?
I would advise them to talk to someone who is already working in that field. It is helpful asking questions to figure out what path you want to pursue specifically and what steps you need to take to reach your goals. I began taking intensive courses in actuarial science my freshman year. I learned a lot not only from my professors but also from the experiences of upperclassmen and those working in insurance.
If they were looking for a job, I would advise them to apply to many places. In my own experience during my sophomore year, I did not apply to enough positions to be successful. Not everyone is a perfect fit for every role, and it takes practice to improve your interviewing skills. The more interviews you do, the more likely you will find an opportunity.
Do you have any favorite books, websites, or media that you would recommend for someone interested in insurance?
For my internship, we read the book, Atomic Habits. Although the book is not specifically about insurance, it would be helpful for someone in any field to create good habits and eliminate bad ones in both their personal and professional lives.
» If you liked Amanda’s interview, check out our other actuarial science student interviews.