As a MSc Actuarial Management student, I expected numerous lectures throughout the week involving a lot of mathematical calculations, group assignments and the inevitable long hours at the school library.
For the most part, this is the expected life of an Actuarial student. But Cass Business School provides way more than that for its pupils.
Our weekly timetable includes a module on Professional Development. Again, I expected this to be a typical lecture series which theorised about competition and personal development. However, the course turned out to be a very practical module, drawing upon the wisdom of experts in various fields.
One of the most popular sessions held was titled ‘Networking with Fun, Confidence and Professionalism’, hosted by Sue Tonks from The Career Farm. Surprisingly, as mathematically-minded actuarial professionals, networking is not exactly a natural skill for us! It is something we would rather avoid in favour of complicated spreadsheets and data models.
However, with the increasingly global reach of most professions and the requirement to engage with a wider variety of stakeholders, it is something we must all do at some point.
The session was led humorously by Sue, who also provided many key insights into the following matters:
- How to prepare effectively for a networking session: this involves everything from logistics to emotional and physical preparation;
- How to break the ice when meeting new people: acceptable topics include asking where the other person is from, how do they know the host, what brought them to the event, and the weather (always a safe topic in London);
- How to discuss business matters: enquire into people’s current interests and plans and generate a conversation from this;
- How to work the room: engaging people with courtesy and politeness and, importantly, how to join and leave groups;
- How to maintain contact after the event: keeping in touch by exchanging business cards or contact information.
- As the module is available for all Cass students, I highly recommend attending, even for just one key insight. Other useful professional development sessions included: ‘How to Effectively use LinkedIn’, ‘Write Effective Cover Letters and CVs’ and ‘Building Industry Awareness’.
Heading to Middle Earth
As hinted above, weather in London can be dreary and cold for most international students. I recommend taking a day trip outside London; that will cure some of those weather blues! Me and a few classmates visited both Warwick and Oxford one weekend in October. Here are some highlights:
- Our visit to The Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick: Originally founded in 1123, the church is a treasure of Gothic architecture. Nearby, J.R.R. Tolkien (author of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, for all the non-middle earth fans) married Edith Bratt at another Warwick church, St Mary Immaculate, in March 1916.
- Visiting Oxford: Exploring some of the locations from the Harry Potter films is a must, and so we paid a visit to the famous Oxford University colleges. Most famous of all is Christ Church College, that inspired the design of the Great Hall in the Harry Potter movies. At Christ Church, both muggles and non-muggles are welcome to visit!
Joan Wanja Mungai, MSc Actuarial Management (2019)