Sean Laurent is a recent graduate of Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri, where he majored in mathematics with an emphasis in actuarial sciences and data science. Sean graduated in May, and he will be starting a full-time role as an Actuary Analyst at Milliman later this month. We spoke with Sean in June 2021.
Tell us one thing about you that’s not on your resume.
A thing about me that is not on my resume is in my free time I enjoy putting together and solving puzzles and adventuring around parks.
What has your experience at Lindenwood been like?
Like many others, my experience at Lindenwood this previous year was affected due to the pandemic, with the majority of classes being held online and limited in-person events being held on campus. However, in the previous years, Lindenwood constantly offered many events and activities for all students to participate in, from a variety of sports games to movie nights and live concerts. Lindenwood always promoted diversity throughout their campus, and the events they held reflected just this.
The professors go above and beyond at Lindenwood to offer assistance with material, encourage students to reach their goals, and celebrate their achievements.
On the academic side of Lindenwood, class sizes are kept small, which allows students to connect better with fellow classmates and their professors. This allowed for easier collaboration and assistance for classwork and studying for exams.
What other schools were you considering, and why did you choose Lindenwood?
Other schools that I was considering were Missouri University of Science and Technology and Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville. I chose Lindenwood because it had a shotgun sports team, was close to home, had small class sizes, and I was impressed by the faculty and their willingness to help me succeed before I even finalized my enrollment.
What influenced you to pursue an actuarial science program?
When initially applying to colleges, I wanted to pursue an engineering degree. As time progressed, I realized the field was not for me. However, I knew I wanted to stay in a mathematics-related field.
After doing research and looking at the degrees each college offered, the actuarial science pathway sparked my interest. Once I started taking the courses within the program, I really enjoyed it and liked the additional challenges of the actuarial exams.
Why should other students consider a focus in actuarial science?
From personal experience, if a student enjoys math, looking at statistics to make decisions, and calculating risk, the actuarial science field is a right fit. Actuarial science is a growing field, and it is being utilized in many different areas such as reinsurance, health, finance, medicine, and more.
What has been your experience with the actuarial science program at your school?
My experience with the actuarial science program at Lindenwood University has been very rewarding. The classes are small (max of 25 students), which allows students the ability to collaborate with fellow classmates easier and allows the professors to adjust classwork accordingly.
With the mathematics department being relatively small at Lindenwood, students often get the same professors teaching their courses semester after semester, and this allows for an opportunity for good relationships to be built. The professors go above and beyond at Lindenwood to offer assistance with material, encourage students to reach their goals, and celebrate their achievements.
With the relationships built, professors and alumni keep in close contact, and when opportunities arise with companies, alumni come back to chat with current students about the opportunities and to answer questions about the field itself.
The classes at Lindenwood help prepare students for the first three actuarial exams of P, FM, and IFM, and the professors have offered numerous times to meet after class or even during summer break to help students study. Unfortunately, due to the small size, Lindenwood currently does not have any clubs specifically for actuarial students; however, I think that could change in the future.
What is your favorite class so far and why?
My favorite class was Financial Mathematics. I enjoyed the solving process of each problem and the satisfaction of getting a definite answer that could be checked through reverse application. Further, I enjoyed having the ability to adjust one number (interest rates, number of payments, and payment amount) in the beginning of the process and to see the impact increasing or lowering the number has on the result (present value or future value).
What is unique about focusing on actuarial science relative to other majors you could have chosen?
The unique thing about focusing on actuarial science is the broad aspects of the material you learn. Classes taken through the degree process focus beyond just mathematics. Courses such as coding, data analysis, finance, accounting, business, and even physics are taken to receive a degree in actuarial science. This shows the wide range of background an actuarial science degree can grant students during and after college.
What has been most challenging about studying actuarial science? Is there anything you wish you would have known ahead of time?
The most challenging thing about studying actuarial science is the importance of getting an internship. Even though having actuarial exams passed is beneficial to your resume for the actuarial science field, internships hold a very important role in helping get other internships or a full-time job.
Students may have to reach outside of University Career Days to find opportunities. Also, many companies do not allow you to apply for internship roles after undergraduate graduation unless you move on to a master’s program. It is best to complete internships while you are still an undergrad.
What are your future aspirations or career plans?
I have been hired by Milliman as an Actuary Analyst and will be moving to Nebraska later this month. While learning and gaining knowledge within the field itself, I plan to complete my Associate of the Society of Actuaries (ASA) and Fellow of the Society of Actuaries (FSA) in the next three to five years.
What advice would you give someone interested in the insurance field?
Research companies in your area, try to make contacts via LinkedIn, and take advantage of meetings/seminars held by the Society of Actuaries (SOA). If available, join an actuary club or similar organization.
» If you liked Sean’s interview, check out our other actuarial science student interviews.