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Office Hours: Explore What Insurance Has to Offer with Career Connections


Are you interested in a career where each day is different, one that comes with great growth potential, and most importantly, one that offers plenty of opportunity for students and new grads?

Good news! It exists, and you’ll find it in Insurance.

On November 9th, we held a chat between Program Manager Trevor Buttrum at Career Connections, and students like you from all across Canada. We explored a lot in the hour, from advice on getting work with no experience, to what skill sets the industry are looking for in candidates.

Unable to make the event? Not a problem. We’ve got the full transcript here!

Hi everyone, thanks for joining Office Hours with Career Connections! To log into the chat, please follow the steps below:

Click the message bar above to activate (“send questions or comments”)
Pick a screen name – your first name will do!
Enter your question(s) into the chat – they’ll be accepted into our moderation system as soon as you hit ‘send’!
We will be starting the event promptly at 3 p.m. ET – stay tuned!

Hello, and welcome to Office Hours with Career Connections! My name is Madison and I’ll be monitoring today’s chat.

We’re super egg-cited to get things rolling. Today, we have a very special guest joining us from Career Connections’ team who will be answering your career questions.

Before we get started, I’ll quickly explain how this event works. Students and grads (that’s you!) will submit career questions over the next hour, and our guest expert will do their best to answer as many of them as they can.

If you pre-registered and submitted an advance question, then you can sit back and relax! If you have additional questions, you can submit them live during the chat.

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

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections

Hi everyone! My name is Trevor. I’m the Manager, Career Connections at the Insurance Institute of Canada. The Insurance Institute is the designation and education body for Canada’s property & casualty insurance industry. And, Career Connections is our division dedicated to helping those not in the industry to find their place in insurance. We talk up the rewards, benefits, and opportunities that a career in insurance has to offer on campuses and in communities across the country!

Great! Let’s get started.

Jenn, a Sheridan College student asks:
“What skills sets are currently in high demand in Insurance?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections

Great question, Jenn! Insurance is a broad industry with a wide array of career paths. Each one has its own unique set of skills needed, so I would invite you to explore the roles that are of the most interest to you in greater detail to see where your interests, skills and experiences best align. That said, in general, our industry partners tell us that they are looking for talented, creative and motivated individuals to join their organizations. Ideally, they are curious and love to learn, are strong communicators (both in person and virtually), resilient and respond well to feedback, are excited by being part of a diverse team, and are customer-centric and solutions-focused professionals.

Rahmin asks:
“What are some entry level positions related to finance that are not in sales?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections

Rahmin, it is not uncommon for people to think of sales when they think insurance. Afterall, for most of us, the only industry professional we have encountered is our broker or agent. That being said, there are a number of entry points into the industry that have little or nothing to do with sales. For example, underwriting. Underwriters accept and reject risk on behalf of insurance companies. They work closely with brokers and agents to understand the risk their client is looking to have insured, create the terms and put the insurance policy into place, and determine the premium (price) to be paid based on the rules defined by the actuaries. In commercial insurance, they may also be involved with risk financing in the capital markets and determining whether reinsurance (insurance for insurance companies) is required to reduce the risk being taken on by their company. With your background in finance, you may also wish to explore roles in Risk Management, Loss Control, and Claims.

Ken, a Seneca College student asks:

“What tips do you have for the interviewing process?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections

Ken, thanks for your question about interviews! This is a skill… and like any other, you might find it helpful to practice! I’d suggest a mock interview with your career centre or a trusted friend or colleague. Some typical interview questions are easily accessible on-line… there are even some great youtube videos you can watch to see some strategies for how to approach common questions. In addition, it is important to:

1. Be yourself. It comes across as awkward or unnatural if you are trying to be anything but! Also, you are not doing yourself any favours down the line by pretending to be something you are not.

2. Breathe. Though interviews can be nerve wracking remember they are just a conversation. You wouldn’t have been invited into the interview if the employers wasn’t seeing something on paper they were interested in! Just go in and confirm their assumptions!

3. Focus on results. Using the STAR method (more available online) of Setting the Stage, Tasks (give a quick run down of what you were responsible for), Actions (what you did), and the Results (repeat customer, solved the problem, reduced costs, won an award, etc.) helps you to structure your answers in a meaningful way for employers.

4. Ask questions. Come prepared with at least a couple of questions (things you can’t learn on the website), like “What does success look like in this role?”

What roles and opportunities are available in the Insurance industry? Check out these career profiles and get cracking!

Ray asks:

“What skills/background would help me become an insurance adjuster, without having any experience?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections

Ray, insurance adjusters are part investigator and part therapist. It is all about helping people to understand what their insurance policy covers and how you can help them to get back to where they were before risk became a reality and the loss occurred. Your experiences in customer service, hospitality, administration, and even working as part of a team and negotiating timelines at school would be helpful in getting you connected to an entry level role in adjusting. More specialized backgrounds like work in healthcare settings, legal offices, or even automotive centres can also be very applicable to work in claims. You might also want to highlight experiences you have had in volunteer crisis centres, residence life, or working with people in need of support (first aid, life guarding, etc.). And, of course, don’t forget what you’ve studied… psychology, law and security, social work, humanities, social science, or even applied sciences have equipped you with different skill sets that could be applied in claims.

Greg, a Sheridan College student asks:

“What is the best insurance designation to get for the field of corporate/business underwriting, sales and marketing?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections

Well Greg, if you are looking down the road to insurance designations, I would point you to the industry standard and offering of the Insurance Institute , Chartered Insurance Professional (CIP) designation. It is a cross functional designation (meaning, it applies to the wide array of insurance roles) which equips you with the technical expertise needed to excel in your career. Keep in mind, that the majority of industry professionals begin working towards this designation while they are join the industry and with the financial support of your employer. If you want to get a jumpstart on your insurance learning or demonstrate your interest and commitment to the sector, you might consider the General Insurance Essentials (GIE) certificate also through the Insurance Institute or one of our seminars – particularly those in the Insurance Fundamentals Series. Hope that is helpful in pointing you in the right direction!

Saif, a University of Ontario Institute of Technology asks

“What skills should an applicant demonstrate in order to land an internship and excel at it?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections

Saif, approaching an internship is very similar to how I would suggest candidates approach applying to any job. The first suggestion is to prepare a winning resume! We have some great tips on our site and encourage you to also work with your Career Centre! Then, it is about identifying opportunities of interest and networking! I’d suggest checking out the opportunities on TalentEgg.ca and on our jobsite. You’ll also find a listing of 150+ industry employers! This can help you get started in identifying companies of interest. Attend career fairs, networking events, and even industry functions (Young Insurance Professionals of Toronto or at the Insurance Institute (www.insuranceinstitute.ca) for example) to help you get connected to industry professionals and grow your network. We have some great tips for networking ( as well on our site and in the Insurance Career Guide right here on TalentEgg.ca. I’d also point you to my answer to Ken from Seneca about how to excel in the interview! Then, on the job, it’s all about being the professional you are! Ask questions. Get engaged. Offer to help and say yes to the opportunities you are presented with. Make connections (not just the personal kind), but also connect the dots between what you have been learning in school, what you’ve learned on the job, and the tasks you are being asked to do. Treat others with respect.

Are you a student at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology? Career Connections is coming to your campus on November 21. Find out more info here!

Chuka, a University of Guelph student asks:

“What positions offer the most growth in large insurance organizations?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections

The good news, Chuka, is that virtually every role in insurance offers opportunity for career growth and advancement. Keep in mind, in core roles like Broker, Underwriter, Actuary and Claims, there is a greater concentration of professionals.. ie. There are more of them. Therefore, there may be more layers and greater opportunity for specialization in those areas. And, remember, growth doesn’t always mean upward mobility. Think of your insurance career more like a lattice than a ladder – you can shift into different roles, try different specializations or areas of insurance, take on people or technical management roles, etc. There truly is a lot of variety and opportunity to take your career exactly where you want to go!

We’ve reached the halfway point in our chat, which means it’s time for a poll question!

What are you most egg-cited to learn about today?

Applications and interview tips 46%
• Internships and co-ops 8%
• Entry level jobs 15%
• Growth opportunities 31%

Jessa, a Sheridan College student asks:

“What are some opportunities in the insurance field apart from being a broker or actuary?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections

Well Jessa – there is truly a wide array of roles that you can explore in insurance. Whether it is risk management – spotting trouble before it happens, underwriting – accepting or rejecting risk on behalf of insurance companies, marketing representative – marketing products and services to the broker/agent community, or even working in areas like claims – helping people in their time of need. And, those are just the operational roles… Insurance companies also require people working in areas like IT, Data Analytics, HR, Finance, and Accounting.

Don’t forget you can find your fit in the Insurance industry through Career Connections’ profile page!

Lily asks:

“How can I become an actuary if I haven’t got any real-world experience?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections

Lily, it is very rare that you can have “real-world” actuarial experience prior to joining the industry! The key to becoming an actuary is actually taking the actuarial examinations. You need to have completed between 1 – 3 to secure a role as an actuarial associate or intern. I’d also invite you to highlight any experience related to finance, administration, analysis, or development of models that you have acquired through your studies or work experience to date. You can learn more about being an actuary through our career profile, there’s even a video you can watch which shares the experience of an actuary working in the industry – www.career-connections.info

Jennifer, a Sheridan College student asks:

“How do I make the switch to insurance with no experience and an HR background?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections

Jennifer – well, first off, keep in mind that the insurance industry requires HR professionals. Particularly as we respond to the demographic challenge of 25,000 industry professionals expected to retire between now and 2022! But, in addition, you might find roles in claims or even as a broker rewarding as you would be interacting in forward facing roles with customers, providing advice and developing a strategy to help them navigate their insurance needs. I’d suggest you take our quiz to see other ways your interests, education, and experience might add up to a great career in insurance!

Alexa, a George Brown student asks:

“Are there any academic requirements for a career in insurance? ”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections
Alexa, most employers in the industry are looking for candidates who have completed a diploma or a degree. In addition to this academic achievement, those looking to be Brokers/Agents, Independent Claims Adjusters, or Actuaries, will also want to consider getting started on the licenses or examinations needed in their fields. More information about licensing and examinations in the insurance industry can be found on our website!

Manpreet, an accounting student asks:

“Are there any work opportunities available for current students?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections
In short, Manpreet, the answer is yes! There are summer, part time, and co-op opportunities in the insurance industry. I’d invite you to connect with your Career Centre, keep your eye on our job site (www.career-connections.info), and of course, visit TalentEgg.ca regularly to keep on top of the employers looking for talent in your areas of interest. The list of 150+ industry employers on our job site might also prove helpful in your own exploration of what is out there for current students at a particular company! Hope that helps!

Tracey from Ryerson University asks:

“How did you first step into the insurance field?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections

Tracey, thanks for your question! I didn’t set out in my career to work in the insurance industry. in fact, I am a career counsellor 😉 But, having worked with the Insurance Institute and industry professionals for over 7 years as a part of the Career Connections team, there seems to be a general consensus that I could probably play an industry professional on TV! That being said, what attracted me to the industry and what keeps me here is two fold: First, the industry has so much variety! Professionals working in the industry have often said that no two days are the same and that their roles are continuously evolving to meet the changing needs of the sector. This was and remains exciting for me!

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections

Second, I am so glad and excited as a career practitioner for how passionate, committed, and fulfilled industry professionals are to their career. They truly find them rewarding and are excited to go to work every day. In fact, 89% of industry professionals are satisfied or very satisfied in their careers. It is pretty rare and amazing to have that level of engagement!

Be sure to follow Career Connections on Facebook and Twitter for more eggs-cellent opportunities!

Jalynn, a University of Toronto student asks,
“Are there mentors available in this industry, and how would I find one?”

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections
Jalynn – Thanks for your question! Mentors, both formally and informally, are commonplace in the insurance industry. Namely, because people are always seeking to learn from one another about how to best approach or manage a particular situation, risk, or workplace reality. For those outside of the industry, I’d suggest thinking about what your goal for mentorship would be and to set some clear expectations about what you are looking for. From there, it is really about networking at industry functions (Young Insurance Professionals of Toronto or Insurance Institute events might be great starting points) or even on LinkedIN, to get connected and find the professionals you are looking for advice and insight from.

Comment From Christina, UBC
Is there anything you recommend we highlight on our resume to stand out to recruiters?

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections

Thanks Christina! Good question. I think on a resume, it is about presenting yourself in the context of the role you are applying to. For example, if applying to be a Broker, it is all about your sales and customer service experience. Where as an Underwriter Role might be more focused on analysis, administrative tasks, your service orientation and problem solving.

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections

We also have some really great tips on putting your resume together at: www.career-connections.info…, I’d invite you to have a look at those, work with your career centre, and check out some of the great resources on TalentEgg!

Hey Christina! You can find an article on how to write a resume for the Insurance industry here!

That’s all the time we have for today! Thanks everyone for your egg-cellent questions.

I think we covered a ton of ground today – hopefully you’ve all taken away some useful information about some of the awesome career opportunities in the Insurance industry!

A very special thanks to our guests today – the past hour just flew by! Do you have any final advice to give our students and grads?

Comment From Trevor Buttrum – Career Connections
Thanks everyone! This was egg-cellent!! Some great questions and a truly wonderful opportunity to connect with all of you! If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our employer page on TalentEgg.ca, the Insurance Career Guide, and our website at www.career-connections.info! Feel free to keep the conversation going on our Facebook Page and Twitter feed, we’re always posting some great content and are happy to hear from you!

A big thanks to our friends at TalentEgg for hosting us today! Have a great rest of the week everyone and Happy Canada #Careermonth!!

Thanks again for joining us, everyone. Have an egg-cellent day!

If you’re looking for more info on Career Connections, be sure to explore their Employer Page on TalentEgg. You’ll find job postings, articles, and more!