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BFIS interns pound the pavement abroad: ‘All the companies have been very welcoming’

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What is it really like working in the fast-paced, complex world of re/insurance? The Bermuda Foundation For Insurance Studies newest Altanta and Chicago interns tell us about their experiences below as a special to Bermuda Works this week.

BFIS Summer Intern Programme — Atlanta — Week One

“One of the most immersive learning experiences I've ever had.”

Intern Campbell Duffy — studying finance at Roger Williams University, Rhode Island, said: “This has been a great week for me. I have learned a lot about the insurance world that I never knew before and that has come through being on the inside of some great insurance companies. It has been great to talk to senior executives at large and smaller insurance companies. You really can feel a different culture between large and small companies that makes a difference when deciding where to look for a job.

“Aside from the insurance carriers, talking to claims adjusters and an actuarial firm has definitely given me a broader sense of the insurance industry. All the companies have been very welcoming and very willing to answer all of our questions, which has made this trip worthwhile.”

Intern Matt Hogan — studying economics at Durham University, UK, said: “Looking back on our first week in Atlanta, I can without a doubt say that it has been one of the most immersive learning experiences I've ever had. From the first dive into all aspects of primary insurance with Allied World (AWAC), to the surprisingly exciting world of Loss Adjustment at Cunningham Lindsey, to the culture of Enterprise Risk Management at Georgia Southern Power Company, the first week of our internship has definitely given us a taste of all aspects of the insurance and risk management worlds. We've met all levels of staff from senior managers down to fellow summer interns, and we've gained valuable insight from all involved.

“On top of the hard work we've done during the week, we've also managed to see a lot of Atlanta thanks to the driving expertise of our Georgia State intern Michelle. Not only have we explored the different districts of town, such as Atlantic Station and Buckhead, we've also managed to visit some major city landmarks, such as the Atlanta Aquarium, Coca-Cola World, the Atlanta Hawks Phillips Arena and the CNN Centre. I can only hope that the second week goes as well as the first! “

Intern Tucker Moore — studying economics at Williams College, Massachusetts, said: “The first week has been an eye opening experience, as my background in the insurance industry had previously only been Reinsurance. Seeing how the primary insurers operate has been very interesting and introduced me to the multiple lines of coverage that the insurance industry provides.

“It has also been a great experience to visit the brokerages and consulting firms and learn about their roles in the industry. Additionally the internship has given us a great new network of contacts and a chance to talk to various professionals within the industry.

“Atlanta has been a great city to explore although it has been raining quite a bit. Our visits to the Georgia Aquarium and Coke World were great as we had a chance to explore the city and see some of the cities unique sites.”

Intern Chris Wright — studying economics at Lancaster University, UK, said: “Our first week in Atlanta has been extremely informative. I have only had experience with reinsurance in the past, with quite a narrow view of the industry as a whole. Our first week here has opened my eyes to how brokers, primary insurance, loss adjustment, claims and the insured’s themselves function within the industry.

“Many of the companies we have visited so far have provided us with breakfast, lunch or dinner. This meant we were able to socialise with people in various roles in a less formal environment. This made it much easier to freely discuss any queries I have had. This has been really valuable because there has been a lot of information to take in this first week, especially with most things being very new to me.

“We have also done lots of sightseeing here. On our first day we got used to using the subway system here, MARTA. The MARTA unfortunately does not go to many popular areas of the city but has been helpful in getting us to the shopping and cinema complex Atlantic Station. We have been to see two films there. We have also been to visit the CNN building, the aquarium and the world of Coke.”

BFIS Chicago Internship Blog — Week One

Interns: Brittany DeFrais — studying Risk Management & Insurance at St John’s University, New York; Shari Gilbert — studying Insurance & Risk Management (Post-graduate) at Cass Business School, London; Heidi Trott studying Global Development Studies at University of Virginia; Somer Zuiker — studying Accounting at Queen’s University, Canada.

AIG: “Spending the day at AIG was very informative and organised. We started with introducing ourselves to several underwriters from various lines while having a continental breakfast. An actuary then explained exactly what she does which was very helpful because none of us had been exposed to that profession before.

“Our next meeting was with the Claims Regional Vice President, Kirk. This allowed us to see how important the claims department is to an insurance company. We then met with Regional President, who talked to us about AIG and the history of the company including the 2008 financial problems they ran into and what they learned from it. For lunch we met with Erin who is the HR manager. This was useful as she talked to us about the training programme AIG has and how we can get involved in it.

“We then had three hours of job shadowing individually with different lines that we had picked before leaving Bermuda. It was definitely a benefit as our lines of interest ranged from environmental to fidelity/crime to property. AIG was a very busy but very informative day.”

Zurich: “The day at Zurich was more relaxed but still very informative. We started with getting the background of the company from a couple of underwriters, including Bert who scheduled the day for us (He knew Bermuda having been one of the Katie School interns in 2002). We then met with a risk manager who explained exactly what he does and even used a real life example as window washers were washing the windows of the building across the street from us.

“They took us to lunch which had delicious Asian/Thai food and we shared several entrees while discussing career paths and they gave us advice for coming out of university and trying to get a job. When we got back to the office via the water taxi, we met with an actuary who gave us some insight on what he does which was useful as it varied somewhat from AIG’s actuary. Then we met with a property underwriter who explained what type of companies Zurich writes.

“To end the day, we met back with Bert who touched a little upon facultative reinsurance and reinsurance treaty as we didn’t really know the difference. It was a really educational day in which we learned about Zurich but also got good advice for trying to get into the industry. Zurich also gave us tickets to a Cubs vs Angels game which was an amazing experience and of course, the Cubs won that night!”

Willis: “Willis was a really good company to visit as it gave us our first exposure to the brokerage side of insurance. When we first arrived, we met with Allen and Scott who had done the BFIS Bermuda internship in 2011 through the Katie School of Insurance at Illinois State University.

“The first presenter was Dick who went through flood insurance with us. He talked to us about the different flood zones and asked us real life examples of what flood zone we thought the buildings were in. It was really informative and useful. We then met with Mark who spoke about his career and how he got to where he is today. Seeing how he had many different roles and moved around the country was nice because it allowed us to see that companies are flexible with allowing you to do something else that might be better suited for you. He also gave us advice about coming out of university and trying to get a job and how we could market ourselves better.

“After that, we went to the Skydeck at the top of the Willis Tower where we stood out on The Ledge. It was definitely worth the view! We then had lunch with Allen, Scott and two new Willis associates. This was beneficial because it allowed us to speak to people who were more relatable so we were able to ask them questions about how they found the transition from university to working full time.

“Next was Kate who talked to us about environmental insurance and how it’s constantly changing as people are becoming more aware of the environment and protecting it. Scott then spoke to us about professional lines insurance and helped us understand the various sectors in it. We then walked over to Liberty with Scott and Allen where we met with Richard who talked to us about property and also the different paths we can take in insurance.

“After that we went for some drinks at Rivers where we met up with Debbie Babcock from the Katie School who helped organise the schedule. She was very pleased to see how much we were enjoying our stay in Chicago and how we were learning so much. The day was very beneficial and allowed us to learn a lot.”

Travelers: “Travelers was a fun but structured day which allowed us to get the best of both worlds. At Travelers, we met with Kevin and Jon who gave us an introduction about the company and what they do. We then met with Willie who does bond & financial products. He gave us real life examples of losses which were really interesting and we really enjoyed hearing about them as it gave us more of an understanding of what line of business he writes.

“Next was property where we met with Amanda who explained what she does and how she got into the industry. For lunch we went to Public House which had really good food and after lunch, we learned about technology and how that’s an up and coming line of business. Commercial accounts were next and it allowed us to see how many different lines of business we can get into and make a career. To end the day, we had trivia hour in which we were put into teams and had to answer numerous questions about Singapore, sports and miscellaneous things. This allowed us to be a little competitive while also meeting with other people at Travelers. We learned a lot and definitely got some more career advice for our futures.”

Burns & Wilcox: “We arrived at Burns and Wilcox, where Samuel Carson greeted us. The layout of the office was similar to offices in Bermuda, small and open plan, which made it feel both homey and inviting. The day started with us watching various introduction videos, summarising the history of Burns and Wilcox, how they have grown since their start up in 1969, and the various products and services they have to offer. As the day progressed we rotated through different departments and talked with various individuals within their Chicago office all of whom had a unique perspective on the insurance industry. For lunch we were taken to Central Standard, and their food was amazing. After lunch we returned to the offices to continue with the rotational job shadowing, which was particularly helpful to us as we were afforded the opportunity to get a practical exposure to the flow of office life. The day allowed us to learn about wholesale brokerage and underwriting which we had not been exposed to thus far.”

All 16 interns will be presenting on their experiences in Bermuda, London, Atlanta and Chicago today (July 30) at lunchtime and anyone interested in attending should e-mail info@bfis.bm.

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Published July 30, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated July 29, 2013 at 8:34 pm)

BFIS interns pound the pavement abroad: ‘All the companies have been very welcoming’

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