Samantha Mercer, 2013
Finance, Computer Science, Statistics, and Spanish minors
Summer 2012, paid
Samantha Mercer, a Math major holding numerous minors here at Ursinus College, interned this summer at Milliman, an actuarial consulting firm. Mercer worked in the health research department. This department does consulting for clients such as health insurers or employers who offer health insurance to their employees. Working with a team of ten people, she assisted them with ad hoc requests on a day-to-day basis. The main project she worked on dealt with forecasting claim costs and premium forecasts for employers who offered their employees health insurance. Her job was to help predict the employers future claim costs and based on that determine whether to increase or decrease of premiums they can charge. “We would get lots of data from the client, which we mostly analyzed using SAS and Excel. We would then calculate trends and from that predict what their claim costs would be.” Mercer also worked on two other major projects: adjusting health cost guidelines based on geographic location, specifically what is called “snowbird adjustment” and aiding in the preliminary setup of a research project for the Department of Veterans of Affairs analyzing hospital efficiency.
Computer programing with SAS and spreadsheet development were definitely beneficial, she said. “One thing I definitely learned is that when you get a question from a client or a project to work on it’s not just ‘plug this data into the formula and there’s the answer’ there’s a lot of other things to take into consideration.”
Working with other actuaries was incredibly useful, said Mercer. “To become an actuary you have to pass around ten exams [among other requirements]. So, while I was there I met other actuaries who had passed all their exams so I got to talk with them and it was good to gain some background.” Mercer is currently interning with ING. She credits her experience at Milliman for providing her with the background she needed to obtain her current internship.
“When I left they told me that if I was ever looking for a job and they had a position open they’d like to have me back. The internship definitely opened doors,” she said. Overall, the internship helped her become better acquainted with what an actuary actually does and where her interests lay. She is still unsure about what specific area she would like to focus on. However, after completing three tests out of ten she is completely committed to becoming an actuary.
Mercer found her internship through an acquaintance at church so she suggests searching for personal connections to companies or fields that you’re interested in. “I had applied to other places but Milliman was the only place I heard back from because I had direct contact with them, definitely search for a personal connection.”