Office Hours: Learn About The Insurance Industry With Career Connections

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The Insurance industry is extremely diverse. Whether you have a background in Commerce, Psychology, or Business, there’s sure to be a role that’s perfect for you!

On April 20th, we hosted our Office Hours event with Trevor Buttrum, Program Manager at Career Connections. Over 60 minutes, we covered a wide range of topics, including career opportunities, interview tips, application advice, and more. The Insurance industry is so diverse that it can be challenging to decide where you fit in this field — hopefully our Office Hours Q&A can help you figure that out. Couldn’t make the event? Here’s the full transcript!

TalentEgg
Hello everyone, thanks for joining us today! My name is Lauren and I’ll be moderating today’s chat.

Welcome to Office Hours with Career Connections – this is your chance to submit your career questions to their team and get answers direct from the source.

Now, if you haven’t attended Office Hours before, I’ll explain how this works. Over the next hour, you can submit your questions through the live chat box. Our guest eggs-perts will be answering as many of them as they can, so please be patient if your questions doesn’t get answered right away.

If you pre-registered for our event and submitted an advance question, you can sit back and relax! Your inquiries will be answered shortly. Of course, if you have additional questions you’d like to ask, you can still submit them live at any time during the event.

Before we get started, let’s introduce our guest from Career Connections! We’ll be speaking with Trevor Buttrum, the Career Connections Program Manager at the Insurance Institute of Canada with us today. Trevor, could you share a bit about yourself?

Comment From Trevor – Career Connections Program Manager
Thanks Lauren! Good afternoon everyone! So thrilled to have you join us!! I am so egg-cited to be here to answer questions on your mind about how you can hatch your insurance career!! Hope that you find the session to be insightful… If you haven’t already, be sure that you take some time to check out our resources here on TalentEgg and on our website.

TalentEgg
Thanks Trevor! And now without further delay, here’s the first question.

Erin, a Commerce student at Queens University, asks:
“What are the most common types of Insurance jobs available to someone from a Commerce background?”

Comment From Trevor – Career Connections Program Manager
Good question Erin! Students with a commerce background often find they are interested in and have skills to support roles like underwriting, risk management, and broker. That isn’t to say that is all that you are limited to… but, these can be good starting points!

TalentEgg
Erika, a Technology Innovation Management major at Carleton University, asks:
“Are there careers in Insurance available for graduates who studied sales and product development?”

Comment From Trevor – Career Connections Program Manager
Hi Erika! Thanks for your question. In short, yes – there are absolutely roles available for recent graduates with the background you have described. More specifically, I would suggest taking a look at the Broker/Agent and Marketing Representative roles we have profiled on the Career Connections website.

Comment From Trevor – Career Connections Program Manager
Brokers and Agents are the professionals people trust to help them insure and protect the things that are most important to them. Together with their clients, they develop an insurance strategy that makes the most sense for their needs. Brokers and Agents than sell their client the appropriate insurance policy on behalf of the insurance company they represent. Brokers represent multiple insurance companies and Agents represent the company they work for directly.

TalentEgg
Erik, a Commerce major at the University of Toronto, asks:
“How can I get a job in the Insurance industry if I don’t have relevant work experience?”

Comment From Trevor – Career Connections Program Manager
Erik – thanks for your question! There are many insurance professionals who got their start in the industry with little to no insurance background. Try not to focus on what you don’t have… rather, on what you are bringing to the table! First, post-secondary education is valued and because insurance touches virtually everything we do in life and in business, the industry embraces a wide array of educational backgrounds.

Comment From Trevor – Career Connections Program Manager
Second, you might have more related experience than you think. Maybe you have worked in customer service/hospitality, as a camp counsellor/lifeguard, at a bank, or even in construction… there are many transferable skills from these kinds of experiences that relate to roles in insurance. Take stock of what you have done and how it might translate. The ‘website.

TalentEgg
Roohina, a Business Management major at Ryerson University, asks:
“What skills and abilities do employers in the Insurance industry value in new hires?”

Comment From Trevor – Career Connections Program Manager
Roohina, the skills required for success in the insurance industry really does vary by role. I’d invite you first to identify which area of the industry is of interest to you and might be a great fit for the skills that you bring to the table. Our quiz is likely a good place to get started if you haven’t narrowed it down already.

Comment From Trevor – Career Connections Program Manager
In general though, industry employers have shared that they value strong communication skills, curiosity, and the capacity to take something that is complex and make it accessible to other team members, departments, and ultimately, clients. You can learn more about in demand skills for various roles in the sector in the career profiles featured on our website and in our recent TalentEgg article.

Comment From Samira
Hello I just want to know what kind of education I need in order to apply to jobs in insurance. Do I need to take additional classes? Please let me know

Comment From Trevor – Career Connections Program Manager
Samira – this is probably one of our most frequently asked questions, so thank you for surfacing it here today! Insurance education is not required to join the industry. It more often than not is the case that you earn your professional designations in insurance while working in the sector. So, your post-secondary education is often a good entry point and can serve you well in getting started into the sector. I’d invite you to check out our website for more information.

TalentEgg
Rebecca, a Commerce and Finance major at the University of Ottawa, asks:
“Are there internship opportunities in the Insurance industry? Where can I start looking?”

Comment From Trevor – Career Connections Program Manager
Rebecca – this question is being asked more and more and it is exciting to see that students are interested in internship opportunities insurance organizations. I am not sure if you are asking for while you are still in school or upon graduation… so will answer from both perspectives.

Comment From Trevor – Career Connections Program Manager
Summer positions are available in the insurance sector and a number of organizations do hire for co-op positions as well. From a recent grad perspective, several companies have trainee, internship, and rotational programs available. I would invite you to connect with your Career Centre to explore which insurance companies are actively recruiting on your campus. I’d also encourage you to get a feel for the insurance organizations in your area – a good starting point is on our job site.

Comment From Trevor – Career Connections Program Manager
We have a list and links to over 150+ insurance organizations! You can get a feel for the company and the opportunities that are available. You may also want to reach out to some target companies to explore options that fit with what you are looking for in an internship.

Comment From Raj
Which cities are most in demand for insurance workers and will I have to consider relocating?

Comment From Trevor – Career Connections Program Manager
Raj – good question! The industry spans Canada (and, for some companies, even the globe)… But, 50% of the insurance sector in Canada is based in the GTA. You will absolutely find hubs in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Regina, KW, London, Montreal, Quebec, Moncton, Saint John, Halifax, and St. John’s… And, in the case of brokerages and independent adjusters… they are located in virtually every community. So… you should be able to find something close by.

Comment From Carmen
Hi Trevor thank you for answering my question. I have a background in psychology and research, would that qualify me at all for the jobs you just listed?

Comment From Trevor – Career Connections Program Manager
Carmen – a background in psychology equips you with a lot of diverse skills… analysis, communication, problem solving, adaptability, etc. These are definitely skills that you can apply in the insurance sector. You might want to explore things in the claims area or underwriting… if you like people, analysis, and research. Ultimately, it is about what you like to do and what might feel like a fit for what you want in as you hatch your career.

TalentEgg
Ilia, a student at the University of Ottawa, asks:
“Do all Insurance jobs require a degree? Or is there short-term certification that can qualify you for certain positions?”

Comment From Trevor – Career Connections Program Manager
Ilia – not all positions at an insurance company REQUIRE post-secondary education. Summer positions for example, obviously, do not require you to have completed your post-secondary studies. There are also some, a broker or an agent for example, where a license is credential required to work in that area of the industry. More information about licensing can be found here.

Comment From Trevor – Career Connections Program Manager
But, many people working in these areas of the industry hold post-secondary credentials as well. They certainly can go a long way to assure an employer about the skills and experience you have acquired to date and how you can be an asset to their organization in the long term.

TalentEgg
This seems like a great time for a poll question, everyone! We have one coming up.

What are you most egg-cited to learn about today?
  • Job opportunities (23%)
  • The application process (31%)
  • Co-ops and internships (38%)
  • Growth opportunities (8%)

Robin, a student at Thompson Rivers University, asks:
“How is the public’s greater awareness of cyber security affecting Insurance? Have you noticed an increased concern with this issue in the private and public sectors?”

Comment From Trevor – Career Connections Program Manager
Robin – Cyber Security is a hot topic in the industry for sure! It also represents significant risks for other emerging technologies… think autonomous vehicles or shared economy apps like Air BnB. It is definitely having an impact on the way insurance companies think about the risk management needs of their customers and in conducting business as organizations themselves. If you are REALLY curious about cyber threats and its impact on the sector, the Insurance Institute recently published a research report on this very topic. Here’s the link.

TalentEgg
That’s a great question, Robin! Take a look at this article on how the Insurance industry connects to emerging trends.

Thanks for answering the poll question, everyone! We’re at the halfway point in our Office Hours chat, so make sure you submit your remaining questions.

Comment From Alissa
What is the benefit of working in this field?

Comment From Trevor – Career Connections Program Manager
Thanks for the question Alissa! The insurance industry also is known for above average job satisfaction with 89% being satisfied or very satisfied in their work. So people like it when they are in it and tend to stay here. When we talk to industry professionals about what they like most about working in the insurance industry – we almost always hear about the variety that the industry offers and how “no two days are the same”. They also talk about being challenged, having the opportunity to continually learn, and that there is opportunity for career advancement – whether it is being given the opportunity for special projects or stretch assignments, becoming increasingly specialized in a particular area, having the opportunity to shift directions based on their interests, or being promoted to a new position.

TalentEgg
Evegenia, a Communications major at Mount Royal University, asks:
“What’s the typical starting salary for someone in an entry-level Insurance job?”

Hi Evegenia! You may be interested in our Average Starting Salaries Guide for careers in Insurance.

Comment From Trevor – Career Connections Program Manager
Hi Evegenia – salary has a lot of factors that go into it, but perhaps most importantly the role itself. Keep in mind that there are 9 potential gateway roles or areas of the sector that we promote as a part of the Career Connections program! That being said, there are some general indicators which suggest that the average starting salary in Canada is between $35K – 45K. Remember, that there is above average potential for advancement in the sector and as you get more experience/earn your insurance designations (with the financial support of your employer) your salary will likely increase quite quickly.

TalentEgg
Sarah asks:
“How can students get a realistic picture of what it’s like to work in Insurance before they actually pursue a career in that field? Are there opportunities to job-shadow?”

Comment From Trevor – Career Connections Program Manager
Sarah, that is a great question! I think getting a perspective on what it will look and feel like to work in various roles in the industry is an important part of exploring what a career in the insurance industry might look like for you. I’d start with the Career Connections website and, more specifically, the videos. The ‘stars’ are real life people who found their career in the industry and are sharing their perspectives, experiences, and insights.

Comment From Trevor – Career Connections Program Manager
There are also some great articles that profile real life professionals and their experiences working in the sector that are a part of the Insurance Career Guide on TalentEgg. I’d also really suggest connecting with professionals on platforms like LinkedIn, at insurance career events on campus, through professional associations or the local Insurance Institute, or in your own network to further explore the sector.

Comment From Erik – Business Management
How can I contact insurance employers for employment opportunities?

TalentEgg
If you want to stay up-to-date on events and opportunities from Career Connections, check out their profile and be sure to follow them on Twitter (@find_your_place) for insider info.

Comment From Trevor – Career Connections Program Manager
Erik – thanks for your question! Connecting with insurance employers is still usually approached fairly traditionally… it is about researching the companies you’d like to work for, networking (in-person or virtually), and staying on top of the opportunities that are posted on the company websites or job sites like TalentEgg or our site for example.

Comment From Trevor – Career Connections Program Manager
I’d stay away from showing up in person (unless invited), large scale social networking, etc… keep it targeted. Keep it professional. And, you will do great!

Comment From Jie
Do you have jobs in accounting?

Comment From Trevor – Career Connections Program Manager
Jie – thanks for your question! Accounting is an important part of any business and definitely has a role to play in the insurance sector. In fact, there are thousands of designated accountants working in the insurance industry in Canada. There is even the Canadian Insurance Accounting Association (with its own website, job board, and conference).

TalentEgg
Arjay, a student at the University of Toronto, asks:
“I’m a first-year MBA student. What’s the best way for me to find a mentor in the Insurance industry?”

Comment From Trevor – Career Connections Program Manager
Arjay – as a first year MBA student, I would invite you to cease each and every opportunity you have to network – on LinkedIn, at career events on campus, and at industry events. Check out our networking tips here and our article on TalentEgg for suggestions. Building contacts will be building an important first step in finding a mentor. From there, I would also suggest connecting with your Career Centre and Alumni departments to get a sense of contacts that they may have in the insurance industry. Alumni from your school or program could be a great starting place in identifying a potential mentor. We, the Insurance Institute, also have put together some resources on mentoring and to help you maximize that relationship. You can check them out here.

TalentEgg
We only have a few minutes left, so we can answer a few more questions and then we’ll wrap up. Remember, it’s Insurance Week on TalentEgg, so take a look at our Insurance Career Guide to get up-to-date industry information.

Divna, a student at Simon Fraser University, asks:
“It’s important to me to start a career where I can make a positive impact in my community. When you work in Insurance, what are the main ways you’re able to make a difference?”

That’s a great question, Divna! You might be interested in this article – a Regional Claims Supervisor discusses making a difference in the Insurance industry!

Comment From Trevor – Career Connections Program Manager
Divna – Thanks for your question! Insurance, at its core, is a helping profession. We are all about supporting individuals in protecting what is most important to them and their lives. Our goal is ultimately to offer peace of mind and help them get back to where they were when they need it the most. Insurance Professionals help to make and deliver on this vision every day… In fact, if you think about recent weather events, accidents/fires, natural disasters, etc. it is often insurance professionals who are amongst those next on the ground after EMS.

Comment From C.K.
What advice do you have for people who are introverted and are looking for their first job?

Comment From Trevor – Career Connections Program Manager
CK – Introverts unite ;-). Introverts sometimes need to be reminded that they bring a lot of thoughtful reflection and perspective to the table… this can be particularly helpful in a field like insurance. We need a balance of introverted and extroverted personalities to help our business thrive.

TalentEgg
Lily asks:
“What are some areas of specialization that you can choose in your Insurance career?

Comment From Trevor – Career Connections Program Manager
Lily – there are a wide array of roles that you can chose from in insurance. Whether it be working as a broker / agent, an underwriter, in claims, actuarial, risk management, etc. These are all areas of operational specialization. The really interesting thing is that you can get even more specialized in each of these roles. For example, let’s say you decided to work in underwriting. The first level of specialization is whether you are working with ‘personal’ or ‘commercial’ policies.

Comment From Trevor – Career Connections Program Manager
Then you start to drill down even further… automobiles, liability, property, marine, specialty lines, etc. You could be writing policies related to the building you are sitting in as you read this, the mode of transportation you took to school or work today, the manufacturing plant off the highway, the office building down the street, the hospital you passed by at lunch, the farm your friend grew up on, the restaurant you ate at last weekend… and, so on. Virtually anything you can think of requires some form of insurance. Even, David Beckham’s legs. In case you were wondering, the left is worth more than the right 😉 So, in essence, there is a lot to choose from. And, the good news is that there is often freedom to shift or switch directions almost entirely throughout your career. Very few insurance professionals careers are linear, in fact, they are most often squiggly lines that have woven and taken them exactly where they wanted to go.

TalentEgg
Justin, a Business major at Western University, asks:
“What Insurance companies are good places for students to look for work?”

Comment From Trevor – Career Connections Program Manager
Justin – this is a good question. But, I am going to invite you all to think about it a little differently and make it a little more personal – What would make a particular company a good fit for YOU? Does it have 5 employees? 10,000 employees? Somewhere in between? Urban setting? More rural? Particular focus in their client or product? Global perspective? Or, more locally focused? Commitment to their community? social responsibility? Particular cause? What’s their culture like?

Comment From Trevor – Career Connections Program Manager
Insurance organizations are as diverse as the people who work for them – there are a wide variety out there! Having a sense of these criteria will help you to evaluate which companies might be a good fit for who you are and the kind of experience you are ultimately want to get out of working for them. We have a list of and links to 150+ insurance organizations on our job site. This might be a good starting point in exploring which ones fit in with what you are looking for.

TalentEgg
And that concludes this session of Office Hours. Thanks for your questions everyone!

We’d like to give an egg-stra special thanks to our guest from Career Connections. We certainly covered a lot of ground over the past 60 minutes.

Trevor, do you have any closing advice you’d like to give our students and grads?

Comment From Trevor – Career Connections Program Manager
We covered a lot of territory today… the good news is that there is lots more information on our website, on our TalentEgg Profile, and in the Insurance Career Guide. Be sure to check out these resources if you haven’t already – they are chalked full of tips, tools, and resources that can help you connect to a really great career.

TalentEgg
Thanks Trevor, I had a great time with this event, and I hope everyone else did as well!

Thanks again, everyone. Have an egg-cellent evening!

Comment From Trevor – Career Connections Program Manager
Thanks so much to all of you – your time and energy is appreciated! A big shout out to our friends at TalentEgg – this was a great session! Keep the conversation going with us on Twitter @find_your_place or on our FB Page.

TalentEgg
If you missed out on our chat today, don’t worry – we will be posting a transcript soon. That way, you can review all the great info from today’s conversation!

Be sure to look out for future events on our Office Hours page as well!

Ready to start your Insurance career? Check out Career Connections’ Employer Page for more information!

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