Li — Bachelor of Commerce Majoring in Actuarial Studies

Why did you choose to study business and management? 

I've always liked a challenge and wanted to work in a corporate environment. Actuarial studies is arguably the most challenging major within a bachelor of commerce. The actuarial profession is also very highly respected and specialised, with high remuneration, and it’s often ranked among the top careers in the world. These factors all appealed to me. 

What was the best thing about your course? 

At school and university we often learn things that we never use outside the classroom. I was pleasantly surprised when I started work and discovered the things I learnt in my actuarial classes can actually be applied in real-life situations. Another good thing was that my course allowed students to take breadth subjects outside of their degree. I took French, business law and political studies, which allowed me to broaden the focus of my degree. In addition, an actuarial qualification, once obtained, is globally recognised and gives you the opportunity to work all over the world. 

What was the worst thing about your course? 

The course is very challenging due to the large amount of maths content, which can be quite frustrating when you see your non-actuarial commerce friends obtaining high distinctions in relatively easier subjects while you struggle for a distinction or credit! To become an actuary, you also need to obtain marks above a certain threshold in a number of subjects and continue studying after graduation for a number of years through the Institute of Actuaries of Australia. Some of the exams you sit have pass rates of around 30 per cent and are usually done while in full-time employment. 

Have you found work in your field? 

I obtained an internship with Ernst & Young in Melbourne after my second year of university and started work with them as a graduate upon completion of my degree. I worked in an actuarial consulting role that allowed me to travel interstate and even overseas. I have since left Ernst & Young and joined a Swiss insurance company in Sydney. In a few years I am hoping to participate in a global rotation program offered by my company and work in Europe. 

What advice would you give to students considering studying business and management? 

Many students who initially study actuarial studies change majors after one or two years, usually because they decide they don't like the course or due to difficulties passing exams. I would advise any potential student to take the time to seriously consider their strengths, weaknesses and interests before embarking on the degree. They should speak to lecturers and past and current students about their experiences. But if a student does decide that it’s the right choice, I encourage them to take it up and persist. Being an actuary is a rewarding career that will allow them to work in a variety of industries and disciplines, including banking, insurance, investment, superannuation, data analytics and risk management.

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