Inspired Millennials Blog Series

Over the past few years, millennials have taken their place as the largest segment of the U.S. labor force, with more than 1 in 4 American workers born between 1981 and 1996. Today’s 20- and 30-somethings make great employees and are fiercely committed to their work.

Our blog series, Inspired Millennials, features young professionals in the insurance industry who discuss their ambitions and career trajectory, and provide advice to young adults considering careers in insurance. If you are a young professional in the insurance industry and would like to tell us about your experience, contact alewis@werthpr.com.

Inspired Millennials – Why I Chose Insurance

October 14th, 2019

Name: Steve Danquah        
Alma Mater: Wilberforce University, Graduated in 2014 
Degree: Bachelor’s in Computer Science
with a Minor in Nuclear Engineering
Company: Encova Insurance 
Title: Integration Developer
Length of Time with Encova: Three years
 

Why did you pursue a career in insurance?

My first job out of college was at a government contracting company and unfortunately they downsized. I applied for a job at Motorists (now Encova) because I knew I could fulfill the duties of the role and was curious to see what IT at an insurance company looked like. Thus far it’s been a very rewarding experience and I’m constantly learning something new.  

What does an IT career in the insurance industry look like?

Working as an IT person in the industry has been great because they give me the ability to pursue what I like, which is cool. Insurance has so many different specialties. If you like working on the front end, you can do that because there’s a lot of work in this space to improve a user's experience whether on the web or mobile to make sure they have an easy and seamless experience. I work primarily on the back end, which is the nuts and bolts of it all. I make sure that the systems that need to talk to each other do, so that regardless of the customer -- whether it's the agent, underwriter or policyholder -- they have a sense of ease while doing business. That part is critical to what we do. 

What’s been one of the biggest challenges in your role?

When I first came to Encova some of the core business processes were running on older technology. A fun yet big challenge for me was working with our team to transition our core business processes to a modern technology and framework. I had to learn the different types of insurance and various insurance terminologies quickly. It’s then that I realized how broad and deep the insurance marketplace really is. Everything I’ve learned over the past three years has been instrumental in helping me understand how to build a good insurance product.

Do you have any mentors in the insurance industry?

Yes, Ralph Smithers who is the AVP for Diversity and Community Relations at Encova has been a great mentor to me. He’s someone I can always talk to about work and life in general. I’m an advocate of mentors because young people need them. Life can be difficult and it’s always good to have people you can talk to and bounce ideas off of.  

What’s the culture like at Encova?

In the IT department it’s very laid back. Usually I wear jeans and a collared shirt to work. There’s a level of trust here where as long as you get your work done your supervisors are pretty flexible with you.

What do you say to someone considering a career in insurance?

There are a lot of great opportunities for people interested in IT. And there are different things to learn whether you’re interested in IoT, RPA, APIs, Guidewire or Cyber Security or even specialize in different programming languages such and JavaScript, C# Sharp, Java, or Angular. Insurance companies touch on so many different technologies that there’s sure to be an area that you like. 

As an African American I would like to say that coming into the insurance industry can be sort of a culture shock at first -- at least it was for me. African Americans are underrepresented in the industry, especially in IT. We all know that diversity is an asset for a company, and it would be great to see more African Americans and other races in college internship roles and other roles with insurance companies. There have been a lot of barriers to diversity historically, and it’s important to see companies working hard to diversify their different departments. After all, insurance is something that everyone needs, regardless of race.

 

Inspired Millennials - Why Insurance is for Me: Shannon Osterfeld, Celina Insurance

September 1st, 2019

Name: Shannon Osterfeld                                                                               
Alma Mater: The Ohio State University,  2019      
Degree: Bachelor’s in Acutarial Science and Economics
Company: Celina Insurance
Job Title: Actuarial Analyst Trainee
Length of Time with Central Insurance: Four months

Have you always wanted to work in the insurance industry?

I always knew that I wanted to work in a career related to applied mathematics, but I did not think I would enjoy some of the more common math professions like engineering or teaching.  In high school, I had saw that actuary was one of the highest-ranking jobs but had never heard of it before.  Upon further research, it seemed to fit very well with my interests as well as being low stress, good paying, and a growing field.  Celina Insurance Group is located near my hometown, so I contacted them and asked if I could job shadow their actuarial department.  They invited me in and taught me more about the career and what they do day-to-day.  Job shadowing helped me to decide in majoring in actuarial science, and thus far I have not regretted my choice in pursuing a career in the insurance industry.

Who are your mentors in the industry and how do they support you?

With this being my first full-time job out of college, my whole department has been very supportive of me.  The insurance industry can be very complicated, so it can be difficult at first to understand all the new terminology and processes. They have always been more than willing to explain things to me and give advice they have from their experience.  Another difficult part about being an actuary is that it requires taking a series of ten exams that take a few months each to prepare for.  A couple of people on my team are also in the process of taking these exams and have passed more than I have.  It is very helpful to have them to give me advice about the exam process as they have already gone through what I am currently working towards.       

Are there opportunities for growth and advancement where you work?

Working at a smaller company, I have had the opportunity to work with almost every product Celina Insurance Group offers.  At a different company I had interned for, actuaries were very specialized and might only work in one area such as personal home or commercial auto.  I feel that I have been able to learn a lot more about property and casualty insurance through being exposed to every area.  My company is also very open to employees moving departments if they desire. Since insurance companies offer a large variety of jobs, this presents many opportunities.  Even though I have only been with Celina for a short time, numerous employees have celebrated forty plus year anniversaries with the company. This not only displays employees’ fondness of their jobs, but it will also present many young people with opportunities in the future.   

What's your favorite thing about your job and the company you work for?

I really enjoy the people I work with at Celina. Being a newer employee, people are extremely welcoming and always open to help me. I also really like the fact that Celina Insurance Group is in a more rural area.  Many people assume that if they go into the insurance industry, they will have to live in a big city.  While it is true that a lot of insurance companies tend to be near cities like New York City, Chicago, or Columbus, there are also plenty of opportunities in smaller towns.  Through being in a smaller rural area, I also love how Celina Insurance Group supports the local community in many ways, such as by sponsoring public events and offering scholarships to local teens.  In 2015, I won the first Celina Insurance Group scholarship offered.  I am so grateful to have had that extra financial support which allowed me to focus more on my education rather than money.  Since I won, they have grown the program by increasing the award size and scholarships available.  

What advice do you have for someone considering a career in insurance?

Insurance companies offer a wide variety of career options such as underwriting, accounting, marketing, and many more.  If there is a certain area you are interested in, I would recommend researching online, speaking to someone, or job shadowing within the field to see what skills are most important and improving on those.   For example, as an actuarial science major I tried to work on my computer skills and take some of the professional actuarial exams which are both very important for my desired career as an actuary.  

I would encourage college students to take advantage of opportunities their school offers that are related to insurance.  Ohio State would often host insurance companies, who would come speak about topics within the industry as well as offer resume reviews and mock interviews.  These are often fantastic opportunities to network with those within the industry in a relaxed setting and are often open to any major or grade.  I would also strongly recommend students try and get one or two internships while they are in college.  I was lucky enough to get two different actuarial internships which were both great opportunities to gain experience within the industry.  They allowed me to meet a lot of individuals who gave me advice not just about the insurance industry but also about transitioning to the professional environment.  Having two internships at different companies also allowed me to see how insurance companies might differ from each other in terms of their culture and processes. 

Inspired Millennials – Why I Chose Insurance: Emily Grone, Central Insurance

August 1st, 2019

Over the past few years, millennials have taken their place as the largest segment of the U.S. labor force, with more than 1 in 4 American workers born between 1981 and 1996. Today’s 20- and 30-somethings make great employees and are fiercely committed to their work. 

Today marks the start of a new short series, Inspired Millennials, which features young professionals in the insurance industry who discuss their ambitions and career trajectory, and provide advice to young adults considering careers in insurance.

 

Name: Emily Grone
Alma Mater: Bowling Green State University,
graduated in May 2018      
Degree: Bachelor’s in Insurance and Risk Management,
and in Finance (double major)
Company: Central Insurance Companies
Job Title: Commercial Lines Underwriting Technician
Length of Time with Central Insurance: One year 

 

Why did you pursue a career in insurance?

During my sophomore year of college, Bowling Green State University started its insurance and risk management program. While I never intended to go to college and major in insurance, I decided to go that route after learning about all the opportunities in the industry. Our college talked to us about how there are tons of people retiring from the industry and not enough people to replace them. There are so many career paths in insurance – and not just sales – that really attracted me. I learned about accounting, claims underwriting, marketing and so many other opportunities that I could take advantage of. It was a no-brainer decision for me.

What do you do in your day-to-day role at Central Insurance?

Currently, I am in training doing underwriting work and new business quoting. Our department sends quotes to insurance agents, answers questions they may have, ensures our policies are adequately priced and prices out our applications. As underwriters, we are the main point of contact for agents to make sure that their questions are answered and that every need is taken care of.

What’s your favorite thing about working in the insurance industry?

I love that I run into different scenarios and challenges each day. No day is exactly the same. For example, one minute I could be addressing insurance questions for a medical office and the next minute working with a large manufacturing operation. I love that I learn something new every day. 

What opportunities for growth are available within the industry?

A normal career trajectory for someone in my role could be to transition to an underwriter role, then a senior underwriter and perhaps a supervisor or managerial position. Commercial underwriters frequently move to marketing manager positions as they are external facing and deal directly with agents. Central Insurance is great about that. Wherever you want to take your career, they will help you get there.

What advice do you have for someone considering a career in insurance?

For college students, I would encourage them to get involved with an insurance fraternity called Gamma Iota Sigma (GIS). It’s amazing how many connections I made from being in that fraternity. Also, internships are important to getting your foot in the door with companies and figuring out what you like and don’t like. In college I interned at Northwestern Mutual selling life and health insurance as well as Central Insurance doing personal lines underwriting.

For young professionals looking to get into the industry, I think it’s important to look for new ways to learn. Continuing education is heavily promoted here at Central, and during my short time here I’ve taken many courses to receive insurance designations like the AINS [Associate in General Insurance] and CISR [Certified Insurance Service Representative]. Taking these courses is a great way to remain up to speed with things as the insurance industry is always changing. Insurance really is a great industry to be in. I think I’ll be in this industry forever.