Your experience with interns

I had an intern this summer. Well, I still do - they’re here for another 2 days and change - but this was the first time I really got to direct an intern’s work, as opposed to “you have an intern, but I’m going to tell them what they’re going to work on and they’ll bring their work to me, but if there’s problems it’s going to be your fault even though I’m not letting you get involved.” I’ve got observations, and I’m curious if what I saw is indicative of where actuarial students are in general - which could be good, but could be bad.

Anyone want to share their experience with having interns under them or near them? Specifically,

  • How did you approach teaching them and getting them up to speed? And how did they respond to that?
  • What did they come in doing well?
  • What did you have to teach them that you didn’t expect to need to?
  • How much of any weakness did you attribute to them personally vs. their university’s program?
  • How has any of that changed over the last several years? Are they overall better? Worse? Better and worse?

You pretty much have to show them everything. Some may come in knowing Excel or some programming but they might not know what you need them to know. We have in house training tools that help.

If you have a project that is kind of repetitive or has good documentation, that’s a good intern project.

Try to explain the whys to them as you go. They’ll learn more if they understand how their work fits in the bigger picture.

If their schedule permits, I bring them to team meetings. They won’t know what we are talking about but it gives them a chance to ask questions and it gives us a chance to realize how many acronyms we use.

What I expect: I expect them to work hours they’ve agreed to work. I expect them to come to me regularly with either results or questions.

I haven’t had an actuarial intern reporting to me since before Covid, so I can’t speak to recent changes.

The ones I’ve had knew Excel and at least some SQL, and had at least one exam, usually two. They didn’t know anything about the industry at all except maybe what they’d learned at their previous internship.

It was more of an extensive interview than anything else so I’d spend a decent amount of time explaining their tasks and how they fit in to the big picture. I wanted them to know they weren’t just doing busy work and feel like they were making a bona fide contribution (even though in some cases I could have done the work in the time it took me to explain it to them.)

We had a few tasks that were typical intern tasks, including collecting a crap ton of demographic data and summarizing it a hundred different ways. Then asking them to tell us what they found, any insights, what they found interesting or surprising was always informative. Some would just blow through it as fast as they could without trying to understand the results and others had thoughtful things to say about essentially the same data. Seeing their analysis of the results was far more informative than just making sure they did the task correctly (which was pretty easy to do).

We made the interns present what they worked on at the end of the summer to all of the actuaries and again, that was always interesting as you could really see how much they understood vs just focused on getting the right answer.