Recently, I was asked to be a guest speaker in the East Carolina University Risk Management & Insurance program for the “Topics and Finance” class. Our theme for the day was based on life questions…in particular THE question most college graduates will inevitably face, “What do you plan to do after you graduate?”
When this question was poured on me numerous times upon my graduation from NC State, I responded with “find a job!” I am certain my father had the same sentiment, and at that time in my life, I would have been happy to land a job with any company. I was amazed when I presented this question to these young determined college students, as they responded with much more definitive answers. Most stated they wanted to be an underwriter for a carrier, some acknowledged a desire to work in claims, another student revealed she wanted to own an agency, and one even said she already had a job with a carrier upon graduation.
Once our life question was answered, I thought it would be appropriate to inform our students on the potential job opportunities in the insurance industry that are available today. First, we discussed positions with the carriers. This was a good topic since a number of the students mentioned they would like to be an underwriter. Underwriters, adjusters, actuaries, and yes, even marketing representative positions were discussed. All good positions and each with its own set of criteria.
Next, I ventured into vendor positions in the world of insurance. This is not an area most people think about when looking for a job in the industry. Even our rating, management system, website, Project CAP and other insurance vendors need a knowledgeable staff. Positions ranging from product marketing, sales, product development and support staff are needed by our vendors to be effective and successful.
Finally, we discussed opportunities available with Independent Agents. During our dialog, I explained the different commercial, personal, and benefit Customer Service Representative positions there are in agencies. For those who were more sales oriented, we talked about the requirements to be a producer and how rewarding it is to build your own book of business. Those who love to crunch numbers are also valuable to our agencies, as we are always looking for good accounting staff. Of course we can not leave out the agency owners; after all, one student in this class had a goal of owning her own agency. One has to admire this entrepreneurial spirit!
We have to remember that not only do we as Independent Agents offer opportunities to these students; they can help us to engage this new, younger, more tech-savvy generation and create more opportunity for our agencies. Several months ago, I stumbled upon an agency in Wisconsin that hired a college student to focus on their social media and marketing strategies. With the explosion of social media, I feel this is a great move by that agency to reach out to the next generation of insurance buyers and engage with them on their terms. Today’s students bring with them the understanding of social media and better ways to use technology to become more efficient.
As your agency begins to look for new talent, please remember our North Carolina universities providing degrees in Risk Management and Insurance. We are blessed with some of the best schools producing well-informed apprentices right in our own back yard! Take time to reach out to Appalachian State University, East Carolina University and UNC-Charlotte to find an intern for the summer or school-year or hire a full time employee. Contacts for each school are below. Resume books and/or profiles of interested students are available. Some of the schools also host annual Career Days where you can talk in person with students.
Appalachian State University – Greg Langdon, firstname.lastname@example.org
East Carolina University – Dr. Brenda Wells, email@example.com
UNC-Charlotte – Tom Marshall, firstname.lastname@example.org
To the incredible ECU students who welcomed me to their class and endured my “hilarious” jokes and anecdotes, I wish you the very best in your future career. A special note of gratitude goes to Dr. Brenda Wells for the opportunity to speak to your students. It was enlightening to see a group of ambitious young people yearning to learn more and eager to enter the world of insurance. I was truly blessed.
Have you used an insurance student as an intern in your agency or hired one to begin their career with you? Any suggestions to share on having a successful internship program in your agency?