By James Ballot, Senior Advisor, Strategic Communications, Triple-I
It’s an understatement to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected all areas of our personal and professional lives. Amid widespread disruption, however, people are stepping up with innovative ways to overcome the distance of “social distancing.”
For insurance businesses, summer internships have long provided a vital path for educating students about the industry, and for insurance businesses to evaluate promising recruits. However, with lockdowns and other measures to contain the spread of Coronavirus extending through and beyond the summer months, many businesses were forced re-evaluate internship programs, with some considering suspension of 2020 summer internships.
Several organizations have stepped in to fill this gap, including insurance businesses, industry trade groups, and in particular, Gamma Iota Sigma (GIS), a student society with 77 chapters serving more than 5,000 members across North America that’s recognized by many as “the insurance industry’s premier collegiate talent pipeline.” Earlier this year GIS launched their Virtual Internships program. Despite getting a somewhat late start, the program placed more than 65 students on 30 projects at 14 insurance businesses.
As part of the Triple-I Blog’s “Insurance Careers Corner” features series, we spoke with student interns about their experiences during summer 2020 and their insurance career journey so far. We also reached out to internship program directors to get a fuller sense of how their organizations benefit from expanding outreach to students even in the midst of a pandemic.
First up is Anisha Navendra, who is a rising sophomore at University of Texas, Austin. Anisha spent part of the summer of 2020 interning at the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation’s (IICF) Southeast Division. She’s double majoring in Mathematics with a concentration in Actuarial Science and Finance—and has “a keen interest in the insurance industry.”
Name: Anisha Navendra
Current Status: Rising Sophomore, The University of Texas at Austin
Triple-I: Tell us a bit about your experience as an intern. Did you have an internship lined up before schools and offices went into COVID-19 isolation?
Anisha: I was looking into internships earlier this year, but by the time classes went remote many programs were either suspended or cancelled. Gamma Iota Sigma stepped in to find ways to connect students with insurers and insurance businesses. My internship with IICF is an opportunity to learn more about the unique philanthropic side of the insurance industry by allowing me to spend time working closely with industry professionals.
How long is your internship with IICF and what sort of work are you doing there?
My internship runs through August. I’m assisting with a wide variety of projects, including pulling and researching financial reports for insights into how a charitable foundation works.
What skills and knowledge are you picking up along the way?
I’m learning more about teamwork, communications, doing due-diligence, time management and research skills, as well as how to use tools of the trade, like Microsoft Office. Also, I’m meeting and networking (virtually) with a lot of insurance professionals from different backgrounds and getting exposure to a wide range of business areas–marketing, finance, operations.
I plan to use these skills and the knowledge gained about insurance and the insurance industry to help me in my future endeavors as an actuary, or financial consultant.
When did you first consider insurance as a career path?
I became more aware of insurance as a member of my high school debate club (the topic was health insurance). Entering college, I discovered how actuarial sciences aligned with my other interests.
Any “surprises”; things you did not expect to learn or do?
Working with IICF has shown me a unique and more creative side of the business and how the industry’s charitable activities are helping to redefine the narrative about insurance. I’m also learning how companies are reacting to the pandemic—and that insurance is nimble and responsive. It’s exciting to be behind the scenes at a non-profit.
How will this experience affect you going forward—both in your studies and in preparation for life after college?
Working with IICF has encouraged me to be more innovative and team oriented. The experience has made me want to learn more about non-profits and has gotten me interested in marketing and brand strategies. I plan take more classes in business law and ethics to round out my knowledge.