Camp makes actuarial science careers add up

Janine Noorloos loves math. But summer camp gave her a new romance – actuarial sciences.

“I was really excited. They advertised it as actuarial camp for math lovers,” she said. “I love math; so I was thrilled.”

Actuarial science applies the mathematic disciplines of probability and statistics to predict the future risk of events, used in industries such as insurance and finances. Noorloos was planning to take summer school courses to further her math skills and figured this would add to her joy of learning.

“The program was fantastic – a 10 out of 10. I would do it again,” Noorloos said.

Outside-the-Gates-Cover

In August 2014, the Actuarial Science Quest for Math Lovers was held at Western for the first time. The days were scheduled similar to a typical workday. For the first three days, the mornings consisted of a variety of guest lectures; veterans in the business and student interns just beginning their careers as actuaries came to share their experience and teach the young minds.

Noorloos and the other students were given lectures about financial securities, simple versus compound interest and calculating annuities. Furthermore, they had hands-on experience with Excel spreadsheets, worked on many mathematic problems related to statistical analysis and toured Western’s campus.

On the fourth day, the students were at able to job shadow at London Life, getting more real-life experience.

“I had a fantastic time at London Life,” Noorloos said. “What I mainly did was work on the program called LIB – Lifetime Income Benefit program – where I got to input dates, calculate liability over assets and update the daily capital market.”

Working under the guidance of an actuary, Noorloos applied her Excel knowledge to calculate the future implications and earnings of the actuary’s clients.

On the final day of the program, students created a PowerPoint presentation explaining what they had learned. Noorloos ended having the best presentation.

Twenty students in Grades 10 or 11 from the Thames Valley District School Board and London District Catholic School Board were accepted into the program. Each must have an exceptional ability in mathematics – the lowest math grade accepted was 92 per cent.

The program founders believe this program was a success beyond their expectations, and next time hope to expand it and create extra room for more interested students.

Statistics and Actuarial Sciences chair Bruce Jones came up with the idea and implemented it with program coordinator Keri Knox and lecturer Steve Kopp, who also handles public relations.

The camp was organized for two main reasons: to introduce the career option of being an actuary to those who haven’t heard of it and to recruit more students to Western, even if it’s for something besides Actuarial Sciences.

“This program gives students a chance to see what it’s like to work as an actuary for a corporation. They see these big buildings and think something goes on there, but they have no idea what,” Kopp said.

Originally, the camp was intended to take place at Western’s campus in Hong Kong.

“Hong Kong is a major regional headquarters for the world’s top insurers. For a number of reasons – including monetary – we decided to have a trial run here,” Knox said.

For Noorloos, the two goals of the program were accomplished. She was previously planning on going to medical school, but now has her mind set on attending Western for Actuarial Sciences. And she said she’s not alone.

“A handful of my peers also felt this would be a viable career option for them in the future,” Noorloos said

The professors and interns gave out their contact information to the students so they could help assist them in the future, she said. The welcoming environment is what has her sold.

“I would recommend this to all math lovers, but it’s not the place for you if you don’t love math.”