The last decade has witnessed a near-constant refrain among industry experts that insurance is quickly becoming an aging sector. Nearly 400,000 employees are expected to retire from the insurance industry workforce within the next few years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. As such, recruitment of millennial and generation z candidates is essential.
On a local level, the University of Louisiana Monroe’s (ULM) Department of Risk Management and Insurance (RMI) is hard at work to fill the gap, under the leadership of Christine Berry, Associate Professor of Risk Management and Insurance (and Director of the Small Business Risk Management Institute at ULM’s College of Business and Social Sciences).
Berry estimates that she receives 20 to 30 formal intern requests per year, and many more informal requests. Among the program’s roughly 23 interns this Summer, two are working at local workers’ compensation companies – Drake McEachern with LWCC and Connor Sykes with LCI Workers’ Comp. View a list of the rest of the 2017 interns here.
For McEachern, the decision to pursue a career in insurance was the result of Berry’s leadership. “Dr. Berry was the main reason I decided to join the RMI program at ULM,” he explained. “I heard about the insurance program because she had visited some of my general business classes. I decided to meet with her, and she convinced me the possibilities in insurance were endless. I was sold on the idea and changed majors.”
Sykes had a similar story about Berry’s efforts to bring more motivated young people into the fold. “I had a friend in the program and I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do with my major,” he said. “I sat down with Dr. Berry for 15 minutes and I was converted. It’s interesting work and there’s a need for younger people, and I like the stability of a career in the insurance industry.”
Both students said that they did not choose workers’ comp for their internships for any particular reason, just that they wanted to work with well-respected companies. And despite the fact that both Drake and Connor have now dipped their toes in the water in the sphere, their day-to-day work looks very different. Sykes is primarily in LCI’s Loss Control Department, and McEachern is primarily working in Underwriting.
“Weeks one, two, and now six, of my six week internship were solely dedicated to underwriting workers’ comp policies; I mainly work renewals but also did a few new business submissions at the beginning,” McEachern explained. “During weeks three, four, and five, I worked with premium audit, safety services, and agency relations, respectively. During those weeks I mainly shadowed employees in those departments to get a better understanding of how their departments are intertwined with underwriting.”
In Sykes’ position, he is also shadowing different departments, but mainly splits his time between scheduling loss control visits and related coordination, and going on those visits. “I had no expectations for what the work would be like,” he said. “I’m really happy with Loss Control and I like the mix between office work and being on the road doing visits at job sites.”
As McEachern’s internship draws to a close, he reflects on the experience. “I love a good challenge. When I’m underwriting, no two business submissions are the same so you never know exactly what to expect. Being able to think through things is a big part of the job, and I’ve always enjoyed being able to approach something in my own way. There is a lot of ambiguity so you never have a ‘right’ answer per se. You have to do what you think is best and be able to defend your reasoning.”
Access more information about the ULM RMI program here.