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Old 10-04-2019, 12:05 PM
dloop dloop is offline
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Default Possible career change for young mathematician

I'm helping my daughter explore possible career alternatives.

Actuarial Science is a field she is interested in. She has her masters degree in applied mathematics and has alway received excellent grades throughout (top 3% of class in high school, undergrad and masters). Since graduating she has been a mathematics instructor.

While very strong at math, she has not had in depth exposure to financial mathematics.

She is trying to get a sense of how long it would take her--someone with such a strong math foundation--to pass the necessary tests and get to where she would be in a solid position to be hirable, and most interesting to potential employers,

Any guidance would be appreciated.
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Old 10-04-2019, 12:09 PM
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Prep time for exams are usually 3 - 4 months. You need at least 2 exams to have a shot at an interview and maybe at least 3 to be seriously considered.

Her lack of an internship may also be a barrier, teaching counts as work experience but employers are usually looking for office experience. That won't make her unemployable, but it could extend the length of her job search. IMO she should probably get some kind of analyst job and pass exams on the side.
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Old 10-04-2019, 12:17 PM
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What level is she teaching?

Need Exams to be considered. Two (now a days) will likely be minimum*, 3+ look better.

Lack of internship and/or "office experience" aren't going to be barriers to getting a job in general; but they may affect possibilities for some companies.


If she is really strong in mathematics (and mathematical thinking), she should be able to knock out Exams P and FM in short order (and with less prep time than the "usual" 3-4 months).

The biggest help is getting a network established.


*Once you pass one Exam, start getting your resume out to a lot of places.
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Old 10-04-2019, 12:34 PM
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I doubt from your description that she'd have any trouble with "financial mathematics". It can be hard to say how quickly she'd pass exams. I've seen really smart people struggle and somewhat average people do well. It takes a certain kind of stubborn character/discipline (more so than smarts) IMO to pass quickly.

Fortunately, it is easy to take some exams, continue to teach or pursue other options, and then see what happens. My daughter (math minor) took a few exams after 3 or 4 weeks of study (passed one, almost past both) soon after graduating just as a backup option. Even if career is not pursued, it really helped my daughter to have an exam on her resume.
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Old 10-04-2019, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Vorian Atreides View Post
What level is she teaching?
She is teaching high-school/early college-level calculus down to very basic math for younger students. Very wide spectrum actually.
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Old 10-04-2019, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by dloop View Post
She is teaching high-school/early college-level calculus down to very basic math for younger students. Very wide spectrum actually.
Leverage the experience: one characteristics that I know a lot of companies are looking for is an ability to explain "complex mathematical things" to a non-technical audience.

Have her look at success rates of those she taught at the remedial/basic level with subsequent classes (especially if the later class(es) are taught by someone else). That would be a good bullet to place on most resumes, IMO.
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Old 10-04-2019, 02:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dloop View Post
I'm helping my daughter explore possible career alternatives.

She is trying to get a sense of how long it would take her--someone with such a strong math foundation--to pass the necessary tests ...
I'd give her a few weeks. The exams have to be studied, as there are several "types" of questions that she's probably never seen worded in such ways.
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... and get to where she would be in a solid position to be hirable, and most interesting to potential employers,
Pass at least one exam.
Also, tell her that actuarial positions are not everywhere. Most are in concentrated urban areas, and a large employer here or there.

Seems solid already. Applied Math (depending on the college) is a great starting point. Some Stat knowledge is important for the exams and often for the work.
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Old 10-04-2019, 03:53 PM
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She needs to ask herself if she's willing to sacrifice her twenties to finish all the tests.
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Old 10-04-2019, 04:16 PM
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She needs to ask herself if she's willing to sacrifice her twenties to finish all the tests.
This. I started at 24 after getting my Masters in theoretical math. I received my fellowship at 33.
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Old 10-04-2019, 05:29 PM
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She needs to ask herself if she's willing to sacrifice her twenties to finish all the tests.
Yep. It's nice that mom or dad wants to help, but if daughter is out of graduate school, it's time for her to do the career research.

Mom or Dad, I apologize if this sounds harsh, but I think you should consider stepping back and handing this research off to your daughter. It's important for her to decide, but it's also very important that she presents herself professionally as she gathers information. For instance, if you are hoping to have her meet with individuals in the industry, she should be the one to coordinate this.

I (very) often am approached by parents who want me to meet with their precious child, and to help them learn what the actuarial field is like. Often the precious child has completed college and done well, but is having trouble transitioning to adult life with a long-term career. In cases where it's the parent who has done the research or coordinated a meeting, the precious child does not seem very capable of contributing in a professional context.

When I hire entry-level actuaries, I certainly am looking for someone who can pass exams. I'm also looking for someone who is responsible and has functional technical skills. But more than anything else, I'm looking for someone who is willing to solve problems when they encounter them. I want to work with someone who will ask questions when they need to know more, and will communicate effectively outside of my team.

Remember that one doesn't have to be in an interview to be projecting an impression of themselves. Any interaction in a given industry is a mini-interview for future opportunities. Your daughter would do well to present herself as the capable, curious individual that I am sure she is.
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Last edited by KimboSlice; 10-04-2019 at 05:31 PM.. Reason: edited last sentence to not sound so sarcastic, since it really is genuine
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