Christopher Hardwick and his wife, Katie, both wanted to go back to school after spending time in the workforce. At this stage in their lives, however, it was important to find programs they could finish quickly.
Hardwick had studied math in college and was also an international Rubik’s cube champion. His interest in mastering systems led him to the idea of an actuarial career, where he could employ mathematical and financial methodologies to model estimated outcomes.
After investigating various programs, Hardwick enrolled in the Capstone Certificate Program in Actuarial Science at the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Wisconsin School of Business. It could prepare him to be an actuary in only two or three semesters.
“I was impressed by the level of rigor in the actuarial science capstone program compared to some shorter technical programs I found at other schools during my search,” he says. “It’s an excellent program for those, like me, who want to change to an actuarial career quickly while not compromising on the quality of their education.”
Meanwhile, Katie enrolled in UW–Madison’s Geographic Information Systems program, and the two of them supported one another while trying to get back in the swing of schoolwork.
“My wife has been a huge help in motivating me to get my coursework done, and for that I am very thankful!” Hardwick says. “I found it hard to quit my previous job in order to return to school, but it was well worth it in the end.”
A top career
Actuarial science is consistently rated as a top career. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a higher-than-average increase in available positions of 18.1% over the next decade. Using mathematical skills, actuaries will be needed to develop, price, and evaluate products for the insurance industry and to quantify the impact of contingent events for other businesses and industries. UW–Madison’s program is designed to quickly prepare students to pass the professional credentialing exams required by the Casualty Actuarial Society or the Society of Actuaries.
Hardwick appreciated the fact that his instructors were all current or former actuaries with experience in the field.
“Across the board my instructors were of very high caliber in terms of knowledge of the material and ability to convey that knowledge to students,” he says. “The courses emphasized using computer software to do simulation and analysis, and I found this to be well received by interviewers at companies.”
Hardwick made use of the program’s resources in his job search, and he plans to maintain his connection to fellow students.
“As a student I have taken advantage of the Bucky Net board where you can find and apply for job postings in the field, as well as the counseling services for improving your resume,” he says. “After graduating I plan to keep in contact with my fellow capstone students as we move forward in our careers. I think this type of networking is one of the more important ways that attending a program like this is able to help students.”
An easier job search
Hardwick was impressed with how well his job search went after enrolling in the Capstone Certificate Program in Actuarial Science.
“I had little success in getting interviews or callbacks for entry-level actuary positions before attending this program,” he says. “After attending, I found that interviews with prospective employers went much differently. I was able to provide numerous examples of how I applied skills that employers find relevant through my course assignments and my internship through the school.”
Hardwick landed a job with Aetna in Georgia and will start work in June. He credits the Capstone Certificate Program in Actuarial Science with preparing him for the work ahead.
“In Prof. Marjorie Rosenberg’s Health Care Analytics class we used the R suite extensively to analyze a variety of health care situations, and all of my interviewers at Aetna found this to be a very valuable skill for work in their specific field,” he says. “I have also learned quite a lot about using Microsoft Excel in order to simulate insurance products and analyze them.”