What is it like as an intern at Willis Towers Watson? Charlotte Olson tells us about her responsibilities, what she learnt and her tips for aspiring actuaries..
Why did you choose to do an internship?
I chose to do an internship as I wanted the opportunity to experience the day to day role of an actuary and gain more knowledge about the career that I wanted to pursue after university before committing to a graduate role in the sector. I also wanted to experience the culture of Willis Towers Watson, and see if it was a company that I could see myself fitting in with.
How did it tie in with your overall career plans?
The internship was a stepping stone to securing a graduate role in a career I knew I enjoyed. Having received an offer for a graduate role at the end of my internship, it also gave me the ability to focus on my final year of university studies, rather than having to apply for graduate jobs at the same time.
What was the application process like – any advice?
After completing the initial application form, and online tests, I was invited to complete a competency based telephone interview. After passing this, the next stage of the application was an assessment centre held at the Willis Towers Watson offices which comprised of an interview, a presentation on current issues facing DB pensions, and a group exercise. The assessment centre was also an opportunity to find out more about the actuarial exam process and to see what the working environment was like during an office tour. On the whole, I found the recruitment team were quick to reply to me, and provided useful feedback on my performance at all stages.
My advice would be to relax and be yourself. Whilst knowledge of the industry is important, showing that you are enthusiastic and willing to learn is a more important trait as I found everyone I worked with through my internship very willing to help explain the more technical concepts.
What attracted you to your role?
The main attraction to a role in the actuarial sector was the opportunity to develop the technical skills required. I wanted to pursue a career that would allow me to further build upon the mathematical skills that I had gained throughout my degree. I was attracted to Willis Towers Watson as I felt that a larger company would provide more opportunities, and felt the values of the company were a good fit for my own.
What were your main duties?
At the start of the internship we were each assigned a couple of client teams to work on throughout the 6 weeks and were also encouraged to pick up other work along the way as it came up. I often worked on individual calculations for members of pension schemes and helped draft reports and deliverables. We also had intern project to complete throughout our time there, which gave us the opportunity to speak to colleagues in other lines of business and gain more of an understanding of their role and how different teams can work together.
I found I was fairly busy throughout the 6 weeks, but occasionally had quieter periods in which to work on the group project. Over time, I became more familiar with the scheme benefits and I was able to use knowledge I had gained to complete work more independently. However my colleagues were always willing to answer any questions I had.
What were the most important things you learnt from the internship?
The key thing I took away from the internship was not to be afraid to ask questions – it is the quickest way to learn about what you are doing, and allows you to build an individual understanding of the concepts within the context of the work you are carrying out.
I also learnt that for me, being an actuary is a rewarding career that I think I will enjoy as it has lots of opportunities to continue your development.
Do you have any advice for someone seeking an internship?
My advice would be to research the different sectors within the actuarial profession and find one that suits you. For example, working in pensions in a consultancy firm provides the opportunity to take on more client facing work as you progress in your career, but also has a large technical side, with lots of specific knowledge required for the job.
What skills did you acquire or improve during your internship?
My time management and prioritisation of tasks improved throughout the internship as I learnt to manage more urgent deadlines with other work I already had. I also gained specific knowledge about UK Defined Benefit pension schemes, which I found useful as it gave me a head start when beginning my graduate role.