Office Hours: Tips On Hatching Your Insurance Career From Career Connections’ Industry Experts

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April 24th was an egg-citing day at TalentEgg: We hosted Office Hours with Career Connections, a division of the Insurance Institute dedicated to career awareness and education in the insurance industry.

Office Hours is an hour-long live chat with representatives from top employers for TalentEgg members.

In what was our second Office Hours with Career Connections, Program Manager Trevor Buttrum joined us once again to answer your questions about the insurance industry and hatching your insurance career. He talked about how to stand out to employers, the different insurance career paths and which one might be best for you!

If you missed the live event, you can read the complete transcript below:

TalentEgg Hayley: Welcome to Office Hours, TalentEgg-ers! My name is Hayley and I’ll be moderating today’s chat.

Our eggs-pert guest today is Trevor Buttrum from Career Connections, a career awareness and insurance education program that is a division of the Insurance Institute. Trevor is the Career Connections Program Manager.

Over the next hour, you can send Trevor your questions about career opportunities in the insurance industry, learning how to stand out to recruiters and getting tips for successfully hatching a career in insurance. You can start submitting your questions now.

Trevor, could you please tell us a bit about yourself?

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections: Thanks Hayley!

I am the Career Connections Program Manager at the Insurance Institute of Canada. The Career Connections team is responsible for talking about all of the really great careers in Canada’s property and casualty insurance sector.

Property and casualty insurance is essentially everything without a pulse: auto, home, business, liability and personal property.

TalentEgg Hayley: Thanks Trevor! Let’s kick things off with a question that was submitted in advance:

Andy, a Statistics and Financial Engineering student at the Schulich School of Business, asks: I would like to pursue a career in Risk Management. Is this possible without a degree in Actuarial Science?

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections: Absolutely! Risk Managers have a wide array of backgrounds (for example, Business or Engineering). You may start out in Underwriting as a Broker or even in Loss Control. You can arrive at a Risk Management role in many ways—it doesn’t have to start with a math degree.

Comment From Roma K.
Are internships common in the insurance industry or is the only way to start out in an entry level role? Further to that, is there a way to get insurance experience while I’m still enrolled in school? Or in a summer job?

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections: Good questions Roma!

I wouldn’t say that internships are ‘common’ in the industry as each company tends to approach these a little differently. That said, they are definitely out there!

The best thing to do is to visit the websites of different companies and start networking with representatives from companies that are looking. Explore how they approach internships and entry level positions. Some may have trainee or rotational programs in place.

Right now, definitely network with industry professionals, approach companies about summer employment or even part-time employment during the school year, and express your interest in the industry. These are all really great ways to get connected to the industry.

Comment From Guest
What about health and life insurance? Are there opportunities for new grads in this area of the industry?

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections: Definitely! The life and health side of the business is always on the lookout for talent too! They have many of the same roles that you would see in property and casualty insurance.

There are some great opportunities on this side of the business also advertised right here on TalentEgg.

Comment From Meghan
Hi Trevor, thank you for taking the time to chat with us today! My question is: What kind of jobs are open to Arts grads?

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections: Thanks Meghan! I am always happy to chat about this stuff! As for Arts grads, there are a number of starting points.

It really depends on what you like to do, whether it’s working with people, writing or maybe even analysis. You might consider opportunities in underwriting, which can include analyzing risk, putting insurance policies into place, managing relationships, talking about products. Or perhaps you’d be interested in becoming a Broker/Agent, helping people select the products and services that are right for them. You could even become a Loss Adjuster, helping people to understand what their insurance policy covers, putting plans into place to help people or a business get back to where they were before the loss occurred, and investigating the validity of a claim.

TalentEgg Hayley: Meghan, you should check out this article about a University of Alberta Arts grad who hatched her career as an Underwriter (and loves it!).

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections: You read my mind Hayley! There’s also a lot of great information and tools (like our quiz) on our website (www.career-connections.info) that can help you explore the different insurance careers and see which one’s best for you!

Comment From Julia
I will be a Wilfrid Laurier BBA grad with a concentration in Insurance & Risk Management this year. What should my next step be? Jumping into entry level positions? Trying to obtain the CIP? Anything else?

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections: Good question Julia!

The Chartered Insurance Professional (CIP) designation is definitely something to look at to help you excel and advance in your career. As you may know, this is usually something that is completed while you are working in the industry with the support of your employer.

An entry level position may be your starting point. If you have had the chance to get some experience in the industry through summer or co-op positions, then all the better. I would suggest networking with industry professionals. There are some great networking tips in our content on TalentEgg to help you get started.

Comment From Shua
What would you suggest is the best approach to getting into the insurance industry for Information Technology majors? Which areas of insurance need and look for technology focused individuals?

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections: Information Technology is embedded into many parts of the insurance industry, Shua.

Actuarial departments use computer models all the time to help them determine the probability of risk and how much money needs to be in the insurance premium pool at any given point in the event of a major claim. You may also find some interesting systems and tool development opportunities in underwriting, claims and on the sales side of the industry. It all depends on what you are interested in and what you would like to do over the course of your career.

TalentEgg Hayley: Let’s hear from another student who submitted a question in advance:

Vera, an Actuarial Science student at the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University, asks: What’s the difference between working in life insurance vs. property and casualty insurance? How can I tell which is right for me?

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections: Great question Vera!

Property and casualty insurance is, as I mentioned at the beginning of this chat, all around us and essentially everything without a pulse.That could be a home, a car, a film set, a sporting venue, malpractice insurance for a medical professional, a plane or even David Beckham’s legs! As you can see, the products and services available would be quite varied.

Life insurance products tend to be more focused on, well, people. Things like critical illness, accident insurance and health insurance.

It really depends on what is most interesting to you! I’d invite you to read more about property and casualty insurance on our website.

Comment From Ralf
What would day-to-day life be like in an insurance job? I’m interested in the industry because it seems like there’s a good future in it, but I’m worried that the work might be a bit dull. Is there variety in the work?

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections: Almost every insurance professional I talk to says that insurance is anything but dull. 😉

One of the key things that comes across in our work with the industry is the tremendous variety in the work and opportunities available in this sector.

As for your day-to-day life, that would really depend on what role you deem is right for you.

As a Broker, it could involve meeting with clients face-to-face, talking with Underwriters about putting a particular policy into place, or attending a seminar to keep up to date with current products and trends.

As an Appraiser, it might mean talking to Mechanics and researching on the Internet about, say, the worth of a vintage car. Appraisers also prepare reports for Loss Adjusters who are responsible for processing claims.

As a Claims Investigator, it might mean interviewing witnesses, providing a statement in court or preparing a piece for the case file.

As you can see, it really varies!

TalentEgg Hayley: Ralf, you can also take this handy Career Connections quiz to learn about different insurance careers and see which one lines up best with your background, skills and interests!

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections: Thanks Hayley!

Comment From ali
What type of “soft skills” are prized in the insurance industry? For example, communication skills and people skills?

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections: Awesome question Ali!

I would say curiosity, communication skills, and the ability to make connections and draw parallels are soft skills that are highly in demand across the industry.

Along with communication skills come interpersonal skills. Insurance is not always thought of as a “people” industry, but it is all about relationships, even if you are not directly on the front line.

Comment From fayiz__ n
What are some common mistakes to avoid when talking to insurance employers? Do you have any tips for resumes, interviews and job fairs?

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections: fayiz_n, it is not so much about what to avoid, but what you can do beforehand.

Learn as much as you can about the industry and where you might fit into it. If you don’t know, ask questions to help you better understand what the employer may be looking for, then draw parallels between that and your experience and education. Keeping an open mind, making connections and approaching each situation as the professional you would like to be will go a long way.

TalentEgg Hayley:  fayiz_n, here is a great article on preparing for insurance job interviews.

Comment From HK
I graduated about eight months ago from an Actuarial Science program. I passed three SOA exams but have no work experience. I’ve tried to get internships and co-ops but it seems they only hire students who are in school, not graduated—and entry level positions are asking for at least six months of experience. What should I do?

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections: HK, three SOA exams is fantastic! Well done. 🙂

I would suggest that, if you haven’t already, you reconnect with professors and fellow students in your program. You may also find it helpful to talk to your career services department and see what kind of alumni services they have.

Depending on which school you graduated from, they may have events that are targeted to students in the Actuarial Science program. See if you are able to attend these any receptions or info sessions as an alumni. Also, don’t let six months of experience scare you off. In the grand scheme of things, six months is not all that much. You may be able to leverage transferable skills you gained in school or volunteer work.

This applies to anyone who is thinking that they don’t have enough experience to start out in the industry . You may be surprised by how much is transferable from your education and previous jobs (like retail, food service, call centres, etc.).

Check out the “Your Experience” tab on our website for more details.

TalentEgg Hayley: Thanks Trevor! I think this is a great time for our poll.

Why are you attending Office Hours with Career Connections today?

  • I want to learn about the different careers in the insurance industry (20%)
  • I’m interested in an insurance career and want additional resume/interview tips (30%)
  • I’m looking for insider information on standing out to insurance employers (50%)

Comment From Andrea
I’m graduating next year and am really interested in marketing roles in the insurance industry. Are there things I can do while I’m still in school to make me a stronger candidate once I’ve graduated?

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections: Hi Andrea, great question! There are a few different ways you can do that.

1. Network. You are likely connected to insurance professionals already (or at least someone who has insurance and is connected to an insurance professional). Talk to them and ask questions about how they got their start in the business.

2. Consider attending events or seminars focused on the insurance industry. These are put on by professional associations (Ontario Insurance Adjusters’ Association, insurance women’s associations) or bodies like the Insurance Institute of Canada. These can be great places to meet professionals and broaden your network. They also help you to become a known quantity within the industry and can demonstrate your interest in the sector.

3. Education. Consider taking one or two courses toward your CIP or other industry designations that fit the role you are looking for. This can help demonstrate your interest and commitment to the industry.

4. Research and prepare. A polished resume, targeted approach to your job search and knowledge of the industry can go a long way in making you stand out!

Comment From Sandorgilpin
Will retail customer service experience and CIP courses make a strong candidate for entry level insurance roles?

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections: Retail experience can be a very applicable to the insurance sector.

Customer service, relationship management, explaining procedures like store return policies and the responsibility of managing money and inventory are all transferable to many roles in the industry!

Before deciding on training, determine which roles you are most interested in and see what might be required for them.

TalentEgg Hayley: Let’s hear from one more student who submitted a question in advance:

Janelle, a Psychology and Business student at the University of the Fraser Valley, asks: What type of educational background and work experience is most sought after by insurance employers?

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections: Thanks for your question Janelle!

There isn’t just one background or type of work experience that insurance employers are after. I hope that through the course of our chat today, you have started to see that no matter your interests, education or experience, there is likely a great career path for you in the insurance sector. It is really all about finding a role that fits with your skills and interests, and with what you want out of a career.

I know that may seem open-ended, but that is because of the variety that exists within the sector.

Comment From Tim
To get into an entry level Risk Management position, should I first obtain the Certified Risk Manager (CRM) license? Or is it possible to obtain these kinds of licenses after you start working? Do employers assist financially by helping to pay off some or all of the costs associated with professional development and licensing for their employees?

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections: Good question Tim!

If you are looking at entry level positions in Risk Management, perhaps you’re looking at Risk Analysis or maybe even roles that are technically in the Underwriting or Sales operations of an insurance employer.

If you are able to obtain the CRM or credits towards your CIP prior to joining the industry, that is fantastic—but not necessarily required. Post-secondary education is often considered to be a solid entry point for a career in the industry.

You are also correct in that many employers will support their employees in completing these designations while working in the industry. This could be through tuition reimbursement, offering bonuses for completion of courses, or even paid time off to study and prepare for exams.

Comment From Simon
Hi Trevor, thank you for holding this event! What is the career trajectory for a Broker? If I start out at entry level, what can I expect to be in 10-15 years provided I’m good at my job?

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections: Well Simon, it may sound cheesy, but that is ultimately up to you.

You could decide to obtain further education and licenses, which may lead to more senior positions or even the potential to own your own brokerage. You could also move into a different part of the industry, such as Risk Management. You could even manage your own division in a company or work your way up to the executive level, depending on the size of the brokerage.

TalentEgg Hayley: That’s all the time we have for questions today. Thanks for participating in Office Hours and a big thank-you to Trevor for taking the time to answer everyone’s questions! Do you have any final comments, Trevor?

Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections: Thanks Hayley and to everyone who participated today! I hope the session has been informative, gave you some food for thought and inspired you to continue to explore the insurance industry!

Visit our website or continue the conversation with us through Twitter and Facebook. We would love to hear from you!

TalentEgg Hayley: If you’re looking for more information about insurance careers, visit Career Connections’ TalentEgg profile and website.

And be sure to check out our Insurance Career Guide for insurance jobs and career resources! It’s being updated all this week as part of Insurance Week, presented by Career Connections.

Thanks again for joining us today TalentEgg-ers! Keep your eyes on our Twitter feed and Facebook Page for upcoming Office Hours events!

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