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.