Matt Ringler attends the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Lincoln, Nebraska. He is a sophomore majoring in Actuarial Science and is Vice President of the Actuarial Science Club. Matt will graduate in May 2021. We spoke with him in March 2019.
Tell us about your experience at UNL.
It’s been nothing short of amazing. The one thing that really stands out to me about UNL is the way they reach out to their students and put their students first. Even throughout the whole process of applying to colleges, UNL was always easily reachable. Whenever I had a question, I was always able to get a response back within 24 hours, and that wasn’t the case with other colleges.
I also love the campus life and everything the campus has to offer. There are so many clubs and activities on campus. UNL always keeps us students involved, and there’s always something to do here.
What other schools were you considering, and why did you choose UNL?
I’m originally from Texas, so I was looking at all the big schools in Texas, like the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M, because they all have actuarial science programs. But Nebraska was the one that really stood out. I felt like they were much more accessible, as opposed to the other universities.
Nebraska also gives you the choice of allowing you to do actuarial science either through their College of Arts and Sciences or the College of Business. I wanted to learn the business side of things, and Nebraska would allow me to do that through taking other business classes alongside my actuarial science courses.
UNL is also certified by the Society of Actuaries as a Center of Actuarial Excellence, which also drove me here because I knew they would really prepare me well for the career.
What influenced you to pursue an actuarial science program?
I didn’t find out about actuarial science until my senior year in high school. All throughout high school, I always wanted to go pre-med. But in my senior year, I had an internship with a physical therapist, and it didn’t turn out the way I expected, so I decided not to go into pre-med.
I’ve always had a really strong passion for math, though, and one day while at a football game, my friend’s dad suggested that if I really liked math, I should look into actuarial science. And from there, I just started researching the field, found out more about what it had to offer, and I eventually fell in love with it.
Actuarial science is growing like crazy. It’s one of the highest in-demand jobs right now, and it’s only supposed to continue to grow even more.
Why should other students consider a focus in actuarial science?
Actuarial science is growing like crazy. I recently read an article about how actuarial science is actually one of the highest in-demand jobs right now, and it’s only supposed to continue to grow even more.
I think if students have a passion for math, they will love this field because it requires a very analytical mindset. If you have that mindset and also a desire to work with people and help them with making the right decisions based on data analysis, then I think this field would be perfect.
What has been your experience with the actuarial science program at your school?
UNL is a certified Center of Actuarial Excellence, so they prepare you incredibly well for the actuarial field, and they provide endless opportunities where you can grow as a professional.
I’ve been able to get really involved in the actuarial science program at my school. I joined the Actuarial Science Club my freshman year, and since then, I’ve been incredibly active in the club and am now Vice President. It’s been an amazing experience, especially being able to get the professional real-world perspective on actuarial science as a career, as opposed to only learning in your classes.
Our actuarial program director Sue Vagts is amazing. She is really what makes this program great. During my freshman and sophomore years, I received so many emails from her about different opportunities that we could pursue to explore our careers and get ourselves out there. Even though I’m only a sophomore, I was able to get an internship both last summer and this summer because of the opportunities that Sue sends to us.
What is your favorite class so far and why?
My favorite class so far has to be Interest Theory. This was the first class that I took that had an actuarial science focus. It was a completely different way to look at mathematics because a lot of it is focused on bonds and stocks. It really took what I loved about mathematics and formed it into a new math that I’ve never seen before. Being able to apply mathematics in a real-word sense gave me a newfound perspective on how everything really runs in the finance world, which is just really cool.
What is unique about focusing on actuarial science relative to other majors you could have chosen?
What really stood out to me about actuarial science was how I could take that major and get a whole new perspective on the business field itself. I’ve always loved math and have always had a passion for helping people, and I believe actuarial science will allow me to capitalize on both those passions.
What has been most challenging about studying actuarial science? Is there anything you wish you would have known ahead of time?
The most challenging part is being able to create a schedule and stick with it. The big challenge with actuarial science is time management. If you’re able to prioritize your classes and your exams, you can still have time to do the things that you really enjoy outside of work.
Have you had any insurance related internships? If so, how was your experience?
I had an amazing internship last summer with Humana that really got me exposed to the field and what I should expect. It was more like an externship, where I was shadowing people and collaborating and networking with other interns. It was a week-long program where we attended workshops and presentations and Humana explained to us what the health insurance field is all about, what Humana does, and how the company impacts the communities it serves. They also gave us a lot of professional development advice, as well as insight into how to prepare for actuarial science exams while still having a life.
I’m also going to be interning with Humana this summer as part of their senior products actuarial division, so I’m really looking forward to getting immersed in the health insurance field.
What are the latest developments or trends in insurance?
In the health insurance sector, Aetna recently merged with CVS, and it’s been interesting watching how that’s shaken up the industry. I’ve really been intrigued by the numerous ideas people have of how this will change the health insurance field, and I think it’s an interesting trend to keep up on. I really hope that this trend in health insurance will benefit individual patients and allow for better integrated care and better patient care overall.
What are your future aspirations or career plans?
My main goal is to become an actuary after college and better develop myself as a professional in the field. I hope to achieve my ASA designation and my fellowship as well. Outside of that, I’ve always wanted to develop myself as a leader in a business role and be at a growing company where I can grow my responsibilities and grow as a professional. Eventually, I would want to become a leader in a company, whether that’s a managerial role or as a CEO, CFO, or Chief Actuary down the line.
What advice would you give someone interested in the insurance field?
The best thing you can do is make sure you are putting yourself out there as an individual. Don’t be afraid to put it all out there because the biggest battle that I see with a lot of actuarial science students is that, while they’re all very intelligent individuals, they sometimes struggle to get out of their comfort zone, take a risk, and just go for that internship or that position and see where it takes you.
Actuarial science isn’t the biggest field as of right now, so if you take a risk and it doesn’t exactly work out the way you planned, that’s okay. You might have made a good impression during the process and one day down the line, you might find the same individual or company in need of someone like you. And since you gave a good impression before, maybe they’ll think of you for the next time. Don’t be afraid to just put yourself out there!
Do you have any favorite books or media that you would recommend for someone interested in insurance?
I like to follow a lot of insurance companies on LinkedIn and read any articles that pop up about them. It really keeps me up-to-date on the industry itself. Insurance is always changing, especially health insurance with all of its ties to politics, so I just find it helpful to use LinkedIn to keep up with trends and stay immersed in the field.