For a week in July, Victor Mgbeike joined us for a work experience placement. A talented student from Coopers Company and Coborn School, we've loved having him here. He's also a budding actuary so we brought him along to our annual Summer Networking Event with the Worshipful Company of Insurers.
Here's his take on the evening!
Networking: “Valuable for getting a lead on a job, gathering information, or connecting with people in your dream company.”
Victor chatting to Catriona, HR associate at Chaucer Syndicates
This was my first networking event and I had only heard of it a few days prior, which was just enough time for me to prepare for what was to be a great night of networking.
During the build up to the event, I found myself frantically searching Google for the dos and don’ts of networking, to prevent myself from looking like a fish out of its depths.
Industry representatives such as the guest of honour, AON’s Group President Stephen P McGill CBE, were offering advice on how to make it to the position he was in. An abundance of knowledge stood before us in the form of CEOs and Chairmen, waiting to be prized open when we were given the green light. There was also physical proof that such Networking events were productive, in the hall was a attendee who had contacted a company that was present at a previous event, asking for a job (or, in the speaker’s eyes, hassling for one). Some time later and that same student is now only a year away from becoming a fully qualified lawyer.
I might add that it was a great sight to see such a diverse group of students present, a sure sign that the Insurance and Finance industry is changing for the better.
So what did I do? Well, I tried to do what everybody else did, I tried to ‘network’. Unfortunately, being a Year 12 student amongst mostly college leavers and undergraduates meant I was walking into unchartered and new territory. As you could imagine, I found myself lost at the beginning, wandering lonesome with some intent to strike up a conversation, but after a subtle prompt from one of my mentors at the Brokerage Citylink (thank you Melissa), I happened to find myself talking to Michael Clarke, a Chief Analyst at AON. We conversed, exchanging questions, and it felt mighty good; to be rubbing shoulders with the ‘top dogs’ of the sector that I wished to be a part of. As the conversation drew to a close, he asked for my card. I was a little taken aback at this point; one because it came across as a huge compliment, that someone of his calibre wanted to keep in touch, and two because funnily enough I didn’t have a card. Thankfully, he was kind enough to give me his, and I intend on making the most of it.
(NB: I am now in the process of ordering my own set of business cards).
As time passed, I felt more at ease. I began to extend my responses, feeding them just enough information about myself but not too much as to overdo it. A mutual respect would develop with those you spoke to, leading to more insightful answers from the students and employers that were at hand.
In addition, the occasion put things into perspective - I had thought I had a basic understanding of the industry before entering the event, but after hearing of the vast amount of opportunities available within the same career, I realised that I had much more work to do. However, the good news is that I now know this information at an earlier point in life.
At the end of the night, I had collated a series of business cards which, I can assure you, are being put to good use. My newfound knowledge about the actuarial profession and the routes to take will not be forgotten.
A word of advice from me, be there next year. If you are ever graced with the opportunity to attend such an event and this is your desired profession, grab at it, like the definition at the top said, ‘it gives you a lead on a job’.