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Abdul Mamnun

SFU Student Undergraduate
Co-operative Education

Position Title
Experience Faculty
I thought it was a very enriching experience and taught me what actual actuarial work is like in the field. Definity has definitely given me a lot to think about, it was challenging but very rewarding.
Experience Details
Application and Interview Tips
  • Research the company using it's website and linkedin 
  • Network with employees and try to learn about the company culture and position you are applying for
  • Ask about potential interview questions when you network 
  • Prepare the interview questions beforehand 
  • Write out your resume to showcase results for any work you have done 
Introduction + Preparation
Preparation Tips for Future Students

Based on my experience of participating in the CAS summer program and obtaining an internal recommendation to start my co-op in the P&C insurance field, it is obvious that the most important tip would be to be very proactive towards preparing for the first co-op.

In terms of ramping up my co-op, reaching out to an employee, and taking the initiative to network helped a lot as it got my foot in the door and gave me a clear understanding of what the role would be like. This also helped me secure an internal recommendation, which likely gave me an advantage in the application process. I also got to know potential interview questions and what a solid answer would be like. The networking call also helped me critically evaluate my company and the position I was aiming for hence, I could do well in the unknown interview questions as well. 

Looking back now, some key information that would make for a seamless start to my co-op could include understanding the company culture and expectations, as well as any specific processes or tools I would be expected to use and any knowledge or information I would be expected to know beforehand. I also created a table with allotted time to track my work and progress so that I can stay organized.

In terms of preparation tips for future students starting a co-op, some key strategies could include researching the company and industry, reaching out to current employees to learn more about their experiences, and practicing your interview skills. It's also important to be organized, proactive, and open to feedback once you start your role. These steps allowed me to set myself up for success and make the most of my co-op experience.

During my Experience
Orientation and First Weeks

My experience with the orientation and first weeks of my co-op was quite organized and informative. The Excel file provided by the company was extremely helpful in providing a detailed guidelines for all the training modules I needed to complete. It even included passwords to any software I might need, which made it easy to get started right away.

One of the highlights of the orientation was the mandatory course completions, which were at most 10 minutes long. These courses helped me better understand the company's culture and core values. This was very important to me as it allowed me to align my work with the company's vision and values.

Additionally, I found the person-to-person training on specific software to be very useful. It allowed me to learn about tools like Radar, which are essential to my work. The group training sessions conducted by senior management also gave me a better understanding of the company's overall goals and direction.

During the first week, I attended team meetings where I got to meet different people and teams within the company. This was a great way to get to know my colleagues and understand the various roles within the organization. Overall, the first week was a good balance of orientation and meeting new people.

For future co-op students, I would recommend paying close attention to the training modules and reaching out to colleagues for guidance. It's important to take advantage of the resources provided during the orientation and first weeks, as they can set you up for success (just like they did for me) throughout the rest of your co-op.

Day to Day

My day-to-day routine during my co-op experience was very well-planned and organized.I started my day by checking my email and messages on Microsoft Teams, this ensured that I was up-to-date on any new information or changes that may have occurred overnight. This is an excellent practice to adopt as it allows you to stay informed and avoid any potential issues that may arise later on.

Next, I would check my daily meetings as it is a crucial step to ensure that I am prepared and organized for each meeting. This helped me to make the most out of each meeting and ensure that I was productive throughout the day.

Mapping out my day was also an important step as it helped me to prioritize my work and set achievable goals for each day. This practice can help you to stay focused and ensure that you are on track to meet your project's deadlines. Moreover, setting daily goals helped me to be productive and motivated throughout the day, ensuring that I was making progress toward completing my project.

Finally, asking questions when I was stuck was an essential step to ensure that I am on the right track and that I was not wasting time on something that is not relevant to the project. This practice can also help you to learn from your colleagues and develop your skills further.

Learning and Adaptation

Learning and adaptation were key components of my co-op experience. While the orientation provided me with the necessary tools and resources, it was through on-hands work and asking questions that I was truly able to learn and adapt to my role.

Asking questions, no matter how trivial they may seem, was crucial in helping me understand my responsibilities and navigate through my work. I found that asking for help not only helped me gain knowledge but also allowed me to build strong relationships with my colleagues. They were always willing to assist me and their guidance proved to be invaluable.

In addition to asking questions, finding the right people to get my questions answered was also important. Identifying key individuals who were experts in their respective fields and reaching out to them for guidance helped me understand the nuances of my role better.

For future co-op students, I would recommend keeping an open mind and being receptive to learning opportunities. Asking questions, identifying key individuals for guidance, and collaborating with team members are all important in adapting to a new work environment. It's also important to remember that mistakes are a part of the learning process, so don't be afraid to make them and learn from them. With the right attitude and approach, co-op students can have a successful and rewarding experience.

Accomplishments and Challenges

One of my key accomplishments was finishing a full rate change for three regions on my own, including creating the quote to bind and rate segmentation. This was a significant task that required a lot of effort and attention to detail, but I was able to complete it successfully. Similarly, I was able to complete baseline testing to come up with perfect profiles for future comparisons and debug any inaccurate information such as different rates across all multiple company software and work with other teams to come up with appropriate solutions, which was another significant accomplishment.

However, along the way, I faced several challenges. One of the most significant was my lack of efficiency in using certain software, such as Excel and Radar. This was a significant hurdle, as these programs were essential to my work. I overcame this challenge by seeking help from my colleagues and practicing my skills to improve my efficiency.

Another challenge I faced was communication difficulties with non-actuarial colleagues. As an actuarial student, it was challenging to communicate complex concepts and ideas to those who did not have the same technical background. To overcome this challenge, I had to learn how to communicate my thoughts more efficiently, using clear descriptions and simple language.

In conclusion, my co-op experience was both challenging and rewarding. While I faced several obstacles along the way, I was able to overcome them and accomplish a great deal. My advice to future co-op students would be to stay positive, seek help when needed, and keep practicing their skills to improve their efficiency. Finally, learning how to communicate complex concepts in a clear and straightforward manner is a crucial skill that can greatly benefit any co-op student.

Reflection & Tips

During my co-op experience, I gained a wealth of knowledge and skills that I will carry with me throughout my career. I learned how to work in a team environment, how to effectively communicate complex ideas, and how to adapt to new technologies and software.

One of the biggest growth opportunities I encountered was learning how to manage my time effectively. Working on multiple projects simultaneously, I had to learn how to prioritize my tasks and meet strict deadlines. This experience taught me the importance of time management and helped me develop strong organizational skills.

Furthermore, this co-op experience has reaffirmed my career trajectory within the insurance industry. I have a passion for data analytics and using technology to develop innovative solutions within the industry. My future goals include becoming a fully certified actuary and using AI and machine learning to improve the insurance industry.

Throughout my co-op experience, I was able to see firsthand how actuarial science intersects with various aspects of the insurance industry. I had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects and gained valuable experience in rate segmentation, rate change analysis, and data analysis.

Overall, my co-op experience has provided me with a solid foundation for my future career aspirations. I am excited to continue to learn and grow within the insurance industry and contribute to the development of innovative solutions using data analytics and technology.

Most Valuable Aspects of This Experience

The most valuable aspect of my co-op experience was the people and the communication and teamwork skills I built up. I learned the importance of effective communication in a professional environment, especially when dealing with individuals outside of the actuarial department. This experience has taught me to not only present my ideas efficiently but also ask the right questions to gain clarity. I have improved the ability to work collaboratively with other teams to achieve a common goal. This experience has allowed me to develop my interpersonal skills such as empathy, patience, and active listening, which are essential to work effectively with people from different backgrounds and skill sets. I also realized that soft skills are just as important as technical skills in a professional setting, and mastering them can lead to more opportunities for growth and advancement in my career.

Connection to Academic Studies or Career Goals

My co-op experience has been incredibly valuable in terms of connecting my academic studies and career goals. Through my co-op, I was able to see firsthand the kind of work that actuaries do in the insurance industry and the value that they bring to the table. Additionally, I was able to develop and improve both my hard and soft skills, which I know will be crucial in my future career as an actuary. Furthermore, I was able to see the importance of passing actuarial exams and how they are an essential component of an actuarial career. Overall, my co-op experience has provided me with a greater understanding of what it takes to succeed in the field of actuarial science, and I feel better prepared to continue pursuing my career goals.

Advice for Future Students

Based on my experience, my advice for future students who are considering a co-op in a similar role or with the same organization is to connect with company employees early on and to learn as much as possible. This means taking advantage of any training opportunities that are offered, being proactive in seeking out work, and asking questions whenever you need clarification. Additionally, it's important to be ready to work hard and to be open to feedback and constructive criticism. Finally, I would advise future students to be patient with themselves and to remember that mistakes and setbacks are a normal part of the learning process. With hard work, dedication, and a willingness to learn, I believe any student can have a successful co-op experience and make meaningful progress toward their career goals.


Abdul Mamnun

SFU Student Undergraduate
Co-operative Education
visibility  292
May 25, 2023