2017 Grant Award: Paul Birch

I have had a very enjoyable experience interning with Liberty Mutual this summer. In an office with 26 actuarial interns and over 200 interns in total, there stands the potential for getting lost amid the throngs of people, but Liberty went out of its way to ensure that each of its interns had a meaningful learning experience. At any point I knew I could go to my manager, actuarial “buddy”, intern coordinator, specified senior actuaries, my team, Penn State alumni, or other interns for help and advice, and I tried my best to utilize and get to know this network. Everyone I interacted with was friendly and helpful, and in my mind this really shines a light on Liberty’s priorities and the types of people they try to hire.

Furthermore, Liberty tries to get its interns involved in meaningful work. My summer project was one that was previously on my manager’s to-do list, and it will be implemented for the company by the end of the month. I worked on converting a model of how much money Liberty needs to set aside to make payments on one of its life insurance products from an outdated software into Excel. My manager worked with me to make sure that I not only completed the project, but understood what I was doing and why I was doing. We mapped out a summer plan, beginning with me learning the concepts behind my product and its reserving methodology, then progressed to developing an outline for my Excel model, before finally coding and testing the model. Throughout the project, I communicated with my team member who will ultimately be using the model in order to make sure it is easy to use, and emphasized traceability and documentation to facilitate its use by future operators. I became much more familiar with life insurance reserving concepts and with VBA applications in Excel. After my internship is over, my model will be implemented as a more efficient, effective way of calculating our reserves at the end of every month.

I also picked up some valuable presenting skills throughout the course of my internship. Between an all-day presentation workshop and a PowerPoint training, there was heavy emphasis on not only coming to worthwhile findings but also on communicating them to others. Prior to the summer, I had considered myself fairly adept in PowerPoint, but throughout the summer I was able to see that I had been sorely mistaken. By working with some skilled users, I was able to develop my ability to recognize effective presentations and replicate them myself. I also had the opportunity to present to a number of senior leadership members of my department, which was very valuable both in dealing with the pressure of such a presentation and also seeing the types of questions that resulted from such a session.

Liberty Mutual is primarily a property and casualty insurance company, focusing on its auto, home, and disability lines. However, this summer I was assigned to its smaller life division. Though I had entered the summer hoping to learn about property and casualty insurance, I was fortunate enough to become more familiar with both sides of insurance. Obviously, my project was in life insurance so I was exposed to life concepts, but through weekly trainings, luncheons, and discussions, I got to learn a good deal about property and casualty topics as well. As a whole, it has been a wonderful internship with a strong support network, meaningful project, and informative trainings, and I could definitely see myself working at Liberty Mutual in the future.