More Than A Job: Sun Life Financial’s New Graduate Rotational Programs

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As new graduate, you have talent and a fresh perspective to offer, and you don’t want to be wasting it in some dead-end job at the bottom of the corporate ladder.

So how can you tell if an entry level job is going to take you straight to the top or leave you struggling on the first rung indefinitely?

More and more large employers are hiring new graduates into rotational programs that offer unparalleled training and professional development opportunities from day one – a serious investment which means they want you to stick around long-term and move up within the organization.

Sun Life Financial, a leading international financial services company with over 14,000 employees, is one of those employers.

As they grow, Sun Life Financial is investing a great deal of energy into their student programs. Each fall, they recruit graduating business, commerce, math and actuarial science students for two rotational programs. “Both are at the forefront of our talent strategy,” they say.

Rotational Leadership Development Program (RLDP)

The Rotational Leadership Development Program (RLDP) offers business and commerce grads the opportunity to rotate through three different roles within Sun Life Financial over a three-year period, starting in one of Sun Life’s major locations – Toronto, Waterloo or Montreal (but subsequent roles could involve relocation to other Canadian cities or internationally).

“If grads are looking for a program that provides a thorough understanding of the financial services business and helps assess and define their career goals, the rotational leadership development program is a great start,” they say.

That means if you’re not 100% sure what you want to do yet, that’s totally OK – Sun Life will help you figure it out. Click here for more information about the RLDP.

Actuarial Rotation Program

The Actuarial Rotation Program, on the other hand, is designed specifically for math and actuarial science students who want to broaden their actuarial and business experience, develop into well-rounded actuaries and receive assistance through their actuarial exams.

“As part of this program, they rotate every 18-24 months to another team within Sun Life Financial, for example, Individual Insurance, Individual Wealth Annuities, Group Benefits, Group Retirement Services, Investments, and Corporate Actuarial,” says Sun Life Financial. “The majority of rotations occur within the same location, but there are occasionally opportunities to rotate to other locations in Canada, the U.S. or internationally.” Click here for more information about the Actuarial Rotation Program.

Account Executive Development Program (AEDP)

The Account Executive Development Program (AEDP) is a great way for new graduates to work with experienced professionals in Sun Life’s Group Benefits division. This program provides graduates access to the training, mentorship, and support they need to successfully transition into an Account Executive role with the company.

“There is no other better opportunity to fast-track your career,” says Sun Life. “As a part of AEDP, you’ll dive straight into hands-on work, and work closely with trainers and our regional vice-presidents to prepare you for an exciting client-facing, entrepreneurial career.”

Business and commerce students who are heading into their final year of school are eligible to apply. Click here for more information on the AEDP.

Keep reading to learn more about Sun Life’s rotational programs and how you can be hired!

What kind of training does Sun Life provide in these programs?

Sun Life Financial: Participants in the RLDP program receive a broad range of professional development to compliment what they learn in each rotation. Classes and training provide individuals with a range of personal and industry learning that ranges from business strategy, branding and customer experience through to developing their early leadership skills.

Support in preparation and passing of exams is the foundation of our actuarial development, but that’s just the beginning. Sun Life Financial sponsors our actuarial staff in attending professional meetings, seminars, conferences and classes in order to support continued professional development.

What benefits and perks does Sun Life offer new grads?

Sun Life Financial: All grads are encouraged to participate in special projects and extra-curricular activities outside the scope of their daily duties. This can include cross-border projects with program participants from the USA, community service, buddy programs, industry conferences and networking events and as campus ambassadors.

As program participants, grads enjoy a competitive compensation, incentive and benefits package, as well as a comprehensive retirement and savings plan, and a share purchase plan. In addition, they can even take advantage of fitness subsidies and other employee discounts.

Can you tell us what the application and interview process is like for these programs?

Sun Life Financial: All grad roles are posted in the fall at a number of target schools and on TalentEgg.ca. Candidates apply for our roles online followed by a two-step interview process. First rounds are on campus with second rounds held at Sun Life offices in Montreal, Waterloo or Toronto, depending on candidate location.

Outside of the standard criteria we look for individuals who have had some interesting experiences through employment, extra-curricular activities, overseas travel or work in the community. This, in addition to academia, is what often sets candidates apart. We are also interested in all-rounders, particularly for the RLDP – those who do not necessarily have a chosen career path set out for them but want to try a multitude of roles within a business setting.

How should students prepare for their job interviews with Sun Life?

Sun Life Financial: Ensure they have a solid understanding of our organization and the financial services industry. In addition, they should consider what they want to gain through a rotation program and the kind of long-term opportunities this could bring. Brush up on communication and presentation skills and be prepared for a lot of interaction with our employees. The interview process does not start and stop with HR in an interview room.

What do the career paths of grads who complete these programs typically look like?

Sun Life Financial: As a qualified actuary (fellow) there are any number of career paths individuals can take within our business. In addition, fellows are encouraged to continue broadening their experience by working in different areas at Sun Life Financial. The typical length of time in a role is three to five years, although this will vary for every individual and role. This also opens up global opportunities for actuaries seeking exciting challenges. Short- or long-term actuarial opportunities may arise in Canada, the U.S., Hong Kong, China, Ireland, India and the UK.

Participants in the RLDP program have a much broader career path ahead of them. The spirit of the program is to allow participants to work through different roles within Sun Life Financial over a three-year time period. This will provide them with a thorough understanding of our business and help gain a sense of their long-term career path and the valuable contributions they can make to our organization. Upon completion of the program they could take role in any number of our lines of business.

Start your career with Sun Life Financial’s rotational program! Visit their profile to learn more, or join their LinkedIn group.

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About the author

Cassandra Jowett is TalentEgg's Content Manager. She joined the team as a student intern in the summer of 2008, and since then her heart has never really left the Egg Carton. Cassandra is a recent graduate of the Ryerson University School of Journalism, where she earned a Bachelor of Journalism with a focus in writing and editing for newspapers. She has also written and edited for The Globe and Mail, The National Post, t.o.night newspaper and other publications.