How to thrive in your first year as a trainee actuary

Starting a new job can be pretty scary, especially if it's your first actuarial role. But don't worry, we're here to help.

In this blog, we'll share some tips to help you make the most of your first year as a trainee actuary.

Find a balance between work and study

As a trainee actuary, you want to pass actuarial exams as quickly as possible to advance your career. But at the same time, you need to deliver high-quality work to your employer. Finding a balance between these two demands can be a real struggle.

Most employers recognise the importance of actuarial exams and will give you paid time off to study. You can use these study days to attend classes, take practice exams or just focus on studying in a distraction-free environment. It's up to you to plan your study days and use them effectively.

Try to be flexible with your study plan and understand that some weeks will be more challenging than others. There will be times when work gets busy and your perfect study plan goes out of the window! This is especially true during quarter-end valuation periods, when your workload is likely to be at its highest.

As with every aspect of actuarial work, good communication is the key to success. By arranging regular catch-ups with your manager, you can make sure you have the support you need to focus on your exams without neglecting your work responsibilities.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

In your first year as a trainee actuary, you’ll learn a huge amount of new things so it’s completely normal to ask lots of questions. You’re not expected to know everything!

Accuracy is important in actuarial work. So if you're not completely sure about something, don't be afraid to ask a colleague for clarification. This leads to much better outcomes than guessing what to do! When you ask for help, you're showing that you're committed to learning and improving.

Sometimes, you might need to ask the same question twice and that's okay. It's really important to make sure you fully understand the answer before moving on. It can be helpful to take notes when a colleague answers your question, so you can refer back to them later if needed.

As a trainee actuary, you can set yourself up for success by being open to learning and asking lots of questions. Don't brush over the gaps in your knowledge, see them as opportunities for growth.

Get to know your colleagues

Actuarial work can be tough sometimes. But if you have a strong relationship with those around you, it makes work seem much more enjoyable.

As you progress in your actuarial career, you will have some stressful and difficult moments. If you've built relationships with your colleagues, they're more likely to be there for you when you need support or advice.

Plus, having a strong network can open up new career opportunities down the line. The actuarial community is small and the saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is accurate.

Think about the big picture

The actuarial career path is a marathon not a sprint. Being patient and focusing on your ultimate goal of becoming a qualified actuary can help you through the difficult moments.

It’s very unlikely that your first actuarial job will be your dream role. There will be aspects of the job that you don’t enjoy and you probably won’t be asked to work on the most complicated or interesting tasks early in your career. Remember that this is just the start of your journey towards becoming an actuary.

As your career progresses, you’ll start to get a sense of which areas of actuarial work you enjoy and which ones aren’t your cup of tea. Use this knowledge to build up a picture of what your dream role looks like - and then navigate towards it!

Stay positive

In any job, there will be bad days. The type of days where everything goes wrong and you just can’t figure out why your actuarial model is giving nonsensical results. But if you can keep a positive mindset and focus on the good days, your first year as a trainee actuary will be much easier.

Always remember that you were selected over other applicants for a reason - you have what it takes to succeed. Keep up the good work, stay positive and soon you'll look back over your first year as a trainee actuary and realise that you’ve come a long way.

Still applying for your first actuarial job? Browse our trainee actuary jobs or check out our interview tips!