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APR Graduate Profiles

In the profiles below, some APR staff who have joined via our graduate scheme in the last few years give their thoughts on the actuarial profession, applying for roles and what it’s like to work for APR.

Hannah Merriman

Why did I choose the actuarial profession?

When trying to decide on a career to work towards, a family friend suggested I look into the Actuarial profession. After a lot of research, I decided that this was the route I wanted to take. Having always enjoyed mathematics and exploring financial risks, I found that this profession would be perfect to allow me to be continuously challenged.

What attracted me to APR?

The possibility of working on different projects and for different companies was the main reason that I pursued an application with APR. I was unsure of the area of Actuarial work that I wanted to specialise in, and APR allowed me to explore many different options. Another key factor was APR’s exam record. They have repeatedly outperformed the industry, to me that was evidence of the high quality of training that APR could offer me.

How did I find the recruitment process?

Initially I submitted my CV and covering letter through the website and was then invited to complete a numerical online test. Following this I had a telephone interview and an assessment centre with current Actuarial Associates. At the assessment centre, I was able to talk through the role and ask any questions I had about APR to ensure that I thought APR was a good fit for me, not just that I was a good fit for APR. The whole process was relatively straightforward compared to other applications I went through.

What was my first year at APR like?

Following an intense 6-week induction training, I was sent out on a project. The training was invaluable and ensured that I did not feel out of depth when starting on the project, despite being given responsibility much sooner than I would have elsewhere. All of our partners took at least one training session, which allowed us all to interact with those at the top running the company, and this ability to closely interact with them has continued throughout my time at APR.

My first project involved validating customer data and calculating related charges that would be sent out on customer’s regulatory annual statements, working closely with other departments and the client’s data provider. I was part of a team made up of the client’s own staff alongside other APR associates and contractors, all of whom were extremely supportive during my first few months. Following the end of this project, I was moved to a different project within the same company which allowed me to expand on the coding skills I had learned in training to improve models used by the BAU teams.

I was also able to get involved in some of the in-house work at APR having joined the Health and Wellbeing team. Being part of this team showed that the company, in line with the ‘We Nurture’ value, prioritises the wellbeing of us employees, which was particularly comforting given the unusual circumstances of 2020.

James McConnell

What attracted me to APR?

I was in my final year of an Actuarial Science degree at Queen’s University Belfast, so I was keen to obtain a graduate role that would give me a good footing to continue on the path to qualification. With my exemptions I had a good start, but APR’s study package really appealed to me as a fantastic way to tackle the long road ahead, while picking up invaluable experience from project work to help with the process.

I had completed a placement year at a general insurance company in Dublin, on the reserving team. By the end of my time there, I had gotten quite used to the three-month cycle of work and wanted something a bit more variable. APR represented the perfect way to break through to the other industries associated with actuarial work, giving me a broad range of experience.

I was hired as the first member of staff through the APR Dublin office. The “new normal” of remote working has really benefitted me, allowing me to stay in close contact with APR staff in other offices, and work on projects and opportunities that I mightn’t have been exposed to had everything been in person.

Working at APR?

One aspect of APR I have found myself deeply involved in is the in-house work. I have implemented a number of automation tools developed by APR’s Technology Team into our graduate recruitment process. I have found this a very engaging task, as it is not usually an area of work that actuarial staff would get involved in. Over time I have also started marking online tests and taking phone interviews, which has really helped me understand the stages of our recruitment process and how they engage our applicants.

As mentioned previously, professional study was a difficult prospect for me after graduating, but APR’s attitude towards it has really helped me get used to it. My manager always treats my study as a priority, making it much easier for me to focus on the study itself. The internal team has always been very responsive to my study needs as well e.g. booking exams, ordering study materials, and I think I would struggle a lot more with studying if I didn’t have this support.

Early responsibilities?

One fantastic (if a little daunting) opportunity offered by working for APR is the ability to take on a lot of responsibility early on. On my first project we started as a team of 3 APR staff members, developing a model for a client. I got a lot of hands-on experience developing this model, and often would participate in detailed discussions with the client. The support from the other APR staff ensured I never felt out of my depth, and we developed a high-quality model the client was very impressed with.

Cristian Redondo Loures

Why the actuarial profession?

Like many other actuaries, I found this profession when I was about to graduate from Uni and started looking for career opportunities. I thought the work sounded really interesting, and the more I read about it the better I liked the idea of becoming an actuary.

I always wanted to use maths to solve real world problems. I also wanted a career where continuous development and learning new skills was a core part of the job. Being an actuary fit those criteria perfectly. And, of course, it is also nice that this is a career with no shortage of good job opportunities.

How was the application process?

Once my application started moving forward, I was surprised by how quick and painless the whole process was. The recruitment team were really helpful throughout, and I was always kept informed of the progress of my application.

I also liked the format of the online and assessment centre tests. While other similar graduate programs will mostly test how quickly you can type numbers into a calculator, I found the APR tests focus on the applicant’s ability to understand the problem at hand, and their ability to explain the logic and assumptions supporting their answers.

My recommendation to people planning to apply to APR’s graduate program would be to spend some time writing a good cover letter. You may think that the qualifications and experience in your CV speak for themselves, but it is also important that your application shows you are really enthusiastic about becoming an actuary. And try to make sure that you tell our recruitment team why you are a good fit for the company!

What makes APR different from other companies?

You will have read about APR and what makes it different from other companies elsewhere in this webpage, but the two things that I personally value most are the training opportunities provided and the variety of the work we do.

Since I joined APR, I’ve had the chance to learn many new skills. Of course, this includes many traditional actuarial skills, but APR also focuses a lot on things that other companies may not: lots of programming and other technical/IT skills, communication with clients, specialised software training…

I also enjoy the chance to be involved in many different areas of actuarial work. You have likely seen many job adverts where companies are recruiting trainees for a very specific function (for example, pricing or reserving). At APR, you will not be stuck doing the same job for long. In fact, you may go from working in a life insurer and straight into a general insurance project in a matter of weeks! I think it is great to have this exposure to a wide variety of work, particularly at the start of your career when you may not even know what kind of actuary you want to be in the future.