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  #1  
Old 11-01-2017, 03:37 PM
Pure_Point Pure_Point is offline
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Default A dilemma on which path to pursue! Suggestions!?

Let me begin by describing a bit my situation, and the dilemma I'm at!

I am currently in my last year of my PhD in mathematics, and as of a few months ago started to seriously consider pursuing an actuarial career. I passed Exam P in September and am planning on taking Exam FM around February or March 2018.

I am currently on the job market, but since I started considering to pursue an actuarial career fairly late (this past August), I have been focusing only on academic jobs so far. This is where my dilemma arises. I have a few different scenarios that I am playing in my head, and I would appreciate any input from experienced people in this area.

(1) This is the track that I'm currently on. I am thinking of getting a 1-2 year academic position. In the mean time, I intend to pass Exam FM the latest March, and then pass MFE by September 2018. I believe this to be a very realistic timetable for me as far as exams go. So, my plan is to start applying for actuarial jobs shortly after I pass my MFE, which would mean around September or October of 2018. In the meantime I'd try to land an actuarial internship during the Summer of 2018.

There is of course advantages and disadvantages of this first approach. One major advantage I believe would be the fact that by that time I would be a much stronger and more desirable candidate to the prospective employers. One, among many, disadvantages would be, since I am an international student, I would miss one (out of 3 total chances, since I can work up to 3 years on my OPT) chance on the H1B visa lottery.

(2) My second plan is still to currently focus on academic jobs, but start applying for actuarial jobs as soon as I pass Exam FM around March of 2018.

Being inexperienced, I am hesitant to do this for two reasons. First off, having only two exams, I would clearly not be as strong a candidate to land a good position, as I would rather want to. Secondly, and I might have the wrong impression here, would it look bad say if I apply in the Spring to say company X, get turned down, and then in Fall 2018 apply to the same company again? Would this raise any eyebrows, though I'd have at least one more exam under my belt, and possibly other skills that I'd obtain in the process?

I have some other variations of these two scenarios that I'm thinking of, but the above is the gist of it.

I'd appreciate any input from people who have possibly even served in recruiting/hiring committees.

Thank you,
PurePoint

Last edited by Pure_Point; 11-01-2017 at 04:13 PM..
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  #2  
Old 11-01-2017, 03:59 PM
Westley Westley is offline
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Re-applying isn't really an issue, I wouldn't worry about that at all.

Probably would get more help if you posted in the "Employment" threads (can move using the "Thread Tools" at the top).

I have no help on the International question, but it's a tough field for internationals these days.

Good luck!
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  #3  
Old 11-01-2017, 04:18 PM
Pure_Point Pure_Point is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Westley View Post
Re-applying isn't really an issue, I wouldn't worry about that at all.

Probably would get more help if you posted in the "Employment" threads (can move using the "Thread Tools" at the top).

I have no help on the International question, but it's a tough field for internationals these days.

Good luck!
Thank you! Just moved it!
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  #4  
Old 11-01-2017, 05:13 PM
nonlnear nonlnear is offline
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First, congratulations on your PhD.

Then...

Doing 1-2 years of "academic work" while doing exams is a huge waste of time if your plan is to jump into EL analyst work. You will be underpaid and the experience you will get as a lecturer will add no new value to your resume. You've already taught. To me, the only reason to do that is that it is easy to get such positions (mostly because they pay peanuts), so it is a low risk way to maintain your visa status. That doesn't really help your career progress, but it may end up being the deciding factor.

If your plan is to leave academia for a corporate job, the sooner you shake off the stench of academia the better. Any analyst job is better than being a lecturer. I know it feels safer and lower risk to just stick with what you know while it is easily available to you, but until you take that first step outside of academia you will be facing an uphill battle to convince employers that you aren't going to be simultaneously useless and resentful of the mental simplicity of your work.

The talk of an internship for summer 2018 just seems silly. Yes, you will most likely be entering as just another EL, but that doesn't mean your path to whichever job you end up with is going to have to look like that of an ordinary EL. You (will) have a PhD. You would do better to market what you are rather than try to blend in with the undergrads, even if it means you get a lower response rate than ordinary candidates.

What is your PhD (and other degrees) in, and where would you like to be located?
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Old 11-01-2017, 05:15 PM
nonlnear nonlnear is offline
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It's a shame you missed the deadline for FM in December. You should have signed up to write it ASAP.

Does anyone here who knows the SOA know if it's possible to call and register a day past the deadline? (Deadline was yesterday, Oct 31)
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  #6  
Old 11-01-2017, 05:49 PM
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ditkaworshipper ditkaworshipper is offline
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You have one exam and a PhD. A lot of people will see that above 2+ exams and a BA. Frankly, you’re overqualified on the mathematical maturity front already, so having any exam is all you need just to show that you’ve researched the field. For the typical undergrad hire, this isn’t a given.

The only real problem I see is that you’re applying for internships when you should be applying for full time positions. Also, that you didn’t start applying as soon as you passed P. Your ability to get a job at this point is more about interviewing, resume design and aggressively applying than academic qualifications. You’re trying to be a business person, not an academic, so start acting like one!
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Old 11-01-2017, 06:57 PM
Pure_Point Pure_Point is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nonlnear View Post
First, congratulations on your PhD.
Thank you!



Quote:
Then...
Doing 1-2 years of "academic work" while doing exams is a huge waste of time if your plan is to jump into EL analyst work. You will be underpaid and the experience you will get as a lecturer will add no new value to your resume. You've already taught. To me, the only reason to do that is that it is easy to get such positions (mostly because they pay peanuts), so it is a low risk way to maintain your visa status. That doesn't really help your career progress, but it may end up being the deciding factor.
I completely agree with you that spending an extra year in academia(though it would most likely be as a research postdoctoral fellow) would add no value to my resume, since my plan IS to jump into an EL analyst work. There were two main reasons I decided to follow this path up to this point.

One of them you already mentioned, it was the fact that I wanted to make sure I will have a job after I'm done with my PhD and thus maintain my visa status while in the meantime I land an EL actuarial job.

The second, is because I felt widely under-prepared for even an EL position. I guess I was/am under the impression that one had no chance of even being considered without having at the very least two exams passed.
Quote:


If your plan is to leave academia for a corporate job, the sooner you shake off the stench of academia the better. Any analyst job is better than being a lecturer. I know it feels safer and lower risk to just stick with what you know while it is easily available to you, but until you take that first step outside of academia you will be facing an uphill battle to convince employers that you aren't going to be simultaneously useless and resentful of the mental simplicity of your work.
Definitely, having been in academia all these years, it was definitely not an easy decision to move away from research/teaching in mathematics and try to basically start a brand new career. This hesitation has basically resulted in not having started these processes earlier, and now having to play catch up.

Quote:

The talk of an internship for summer 2018 just seems silly. Yes, you will most likely be entering as just another EL, but that doesn't mean your path to whichever job you end up with is going to have to look like that of an ordinary EL. You (will) have a PhD. You would do better to market what you are rather than try to blend in with the undergrads, even if it means you get a lower response rate than ordinary candidates.
I am actually completely at peace with starting as just another EL, since I am entering a new field after all, as long as the job/company provides opportunities to grow and move up the ladder.
Quote:

What is your PhD (and other degrees) in, and where would you like to be located?
My B.S., M.A, and now my PhD are all in Mathematics. As far as locations go, I don't really have any restrictions!
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  #8  
Old 11-01-2017, 07:08 PM
Pure_Point Pure_Point is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ditkaworshipper View Post
You have one exam and a PhD. A lot of people will see that above 2+ exams and a BA. Frankly, you’re overqualified on the mathematical maturity front already, so having any exam is all you need just to show that you’ve researched the field. For the typical undergrad hire, this isn’t a given.
I was definitely under the impression that you wouldn't be taken seriously if you didn't have at the very least two exams under your belt and preferably some VBA or SQL.

Quote:

The only real problem I see is that you’re applying for internships when you should be applying for full time positions. Also, that you didn’t start applying as soon as you passed P. Your ability to get a job at this point is more about interviewing, resume design and aggressively applying than academic qualifications.
I am currently not applying for any internships at all. I was planning to do that once I passed FM.

I think I will take your advice and others' and start applying soon. At the very least I will be more familiar with the inner mechanisms of the whole hiring process outside academia.

Quote:
You’re trying to be a business person, not an academic, so start acting like one!
You are certainly right on point here. I am still in my academic mindset.
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  #9  
Old 11-01-2017, 07:33 PM
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JohnLocke JohnLocke is offline
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The 2 exam thing is for the typical candidate - not you so much. Your biggest fight will be proving you really know what you are getting into it and that you really want to do it (and won't get bored). These may not be fair preconceptions about a math phd but they certainly exist. Some of the most competent actuaries I've met are math PhDs.
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Last edited by JohnLocke; 11-01-2017 at 07:37 PM..
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  #10  
Old 11-01-2017, 07:49 PM
nonlnear nonlnear is offline
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Originally Posted by Pure_Point View Post
Thank you!

Now, what's left for you before completion? Defense? How much writing do you have left to do?

I ask because unless you have a ton of doctoral work left, I think you should probably do C in Feb instead of FM. For a math PhD FM is a joke, and can be fit in whenever. C is bigger. And if exam order matters at all (it may or may not, depending on who is looking at your resume), doing C says more about your ability than FM does. (For a math PhD, passing FM gives basically no extra information. It is a meaningless checkbox. It matters as a formality, but doesn't tell employers anything more about you given that you have a math PhD. Passing C tells them that you are ready to subject your mind to endless hours of silly tedium for nothing but a measly carrot being dangled somewhere in the hypothetical future. This is vital to signalling your readiness for corporate work.)
Quote:
I completely agree with you that spending an extra year in academia(though it would most likely be as a research postdoctoral fellow) would add no value to my resume, since my plan IS to jump into an EL analyst work. There were two main reasons I decided to follow this path up to this point.

One of them you already mentioned, it was the fact that I wanted to make sure I will have a job after I'm done with my PhD and thus maintain my visa status while in the meantime I land an EL actuarial job.

The second, is because I felt widely under-prepared for even an EL position. I guess I was/am under the impression that one had no chance of even being considered without having at the very least two exams passed.

Definitely, having been in academia all these years, it was definitely not an easy decision to move away from research/teaching in mathematics and try to basically start a brand new career. This hesitation has basically resulted in not having started these processes earlier, and now having to play catch up.
If you understand that you have to play catch-up I am bewildered by how easily you are defaulting to a plan which admittedly wastes the youngest and most valuable 1-2 years of your remaining career on a position that you agree adds no value to your resume. There is absolutely no rush to commit yourself to being a lecturer next year. You should make your default plan finding a good job ASAP, and just fall back on teaching as an absolute last resort. (Absolute last meaning you should look for any other corporate job as a next to last resort before falling back on teaching if you aren't getting actuarial nibbles.)

Quote:
I am actually completely at peace with starting as just another EL, since I am entering a new field after all, as long as the job/company provides opportunities to grow and move up the ladder.
I understand you will most likely start as an ordinary EL. I am saying that you shouldn't pour a ton of energy into deprecating your PhD and mimicking what ordinary EL candidates do (i.e. getting an internship). You will be starting as an ordinary EL, but you are not an ordinary EL candidate. (That's not to say you are something super special.) You need to figure out how to market the value of your education. What ditka was saying is that if you understood the value of your education, you wouldn't bother thinking about internships. You are more than ready for EL right now. The problem is finding an employer who will make you an offer. That might be a long, frustrating process. Or not. But you should start ASAP.
Quote:
My B.S., M.A, and now my PhD are all in Mathematics. As far as locations go, I don't really have any restrictions!
What is your PhD in, specifically? Answer as if you are at an AMS job fair. Where are your degrees from? And where would you like to be located, if you could pick?

Also, forget what you might think you are supposed to say on the Actuarial Outpost: If you could pick any job, what would you like to do for a living? What interests you?

Last edited by nonlnear; 11-01-2017 at 07:53 PM..
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