Central College News

Featured: Exploring Probability and Risk

October 7, 2013

Amanda Dunkin ’14 found her niche after double majoring in actuarial science and economics and interning with Transamerica in Cedar Rapids.

Try explaining actuarial science to the uninitiated. That was the task facing Amanda Dunkin’s high school cross country coach who was also her math teacher.  “When I was thinking about coming to Central, he encouraged me to consider economics and actuarial science,” Dunkin says. “I didn’t even know then what it meant.”

The local coach must have been convincing because Pella native Dunkin ’14 is still running strong, recognized for academics by the Iowa Conference and a double major in actuarial science and economics.

Now with a summer internship at Transamerica on her resume, Dunkin feels she’s found “a profession I would really enjoy.”

“This was my first exposure to a corporate setting, and I loved it,” she says. “I enjoyed the work and wanted to go to work every day. I can imagine myself working there long-term,” she says of the life insurance and investment company based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

“I was in an actuarial role within the company, assigned to a department to manage risks for life insurance and pension products.”

DSC_3180Although Dunkin had no formal insurance courses in her Central background, she relied heavily on her basic knowledge of life insurance and pensions.

“I had taken four or five courses with a corporate finance and risk management focus, as well as quantitative methods and lots of math,” she says.

Her Central curriculum combined with on-the-job training proved very satisfying.

“Transamerica is very good at teaching technical skills, and I’m a quick learner so I could pick up the skills and terminology quickly,” she explains. “My knowledge of Excel exploded while on the job. The internship settled me into a profession I know I’ll enjoy working in.”

As if a demanding double major and grueling cross country schedule aren’t enough, Dunkin is also embarking on study for the first of eight rigorous professional exams required to demonstrate competence in the actuarial science field.

“The exams are very important to employers and for getting a job,” Dunkin says. “So I’m a full-time student, running cross country and studying for a professional exam.”

She’s also passing along advice to prospective students of the profession: start looking early for an actuarial science internship—“companies choose in the fall for the following summer. I had to learn this the hard way.”

And if you are still learning yourself, actuarial science is the discipline that applies mathematical and statistical methods such as probability to assess risk in insurance, finance and other industries and professions.

Two recent surveys by career sites listed actuaries among “best professions.” So there’s strong likelihood and high probability that Dunkin will find success in a profession she knows she’ll enjoy.