What a summer it has been! I have had a wonderful time in Boston, made friends, gone on adventures throughout the Northeast, completed an interesting project, and found a city and a company where I can definitely see myself in the future. I think the most telling metric for how good a summer has been is when August rolls around and the question is asked at the lunch table, “so who is ready to go back to school?” Almost everyone agrees that they’re looking forward to the semester… except for one strong ‘no!’ Yep, that’s me.
I love the people at Penn State. There are so many wonderful, interesting people in my classes, activities, and life, and I dearly miss my friends. I am involved in some fun activities and spend a lot of focusing on my hobbies and passions with people who share these interests. I have a number of professors and advisers with whom I have quality relationships. But I also keep myself very, very busy, and significantly push the limits on how much can be fit in a 24-hour period. Though fun, this can be difficult to sustain, and becomes less fun after a few weeks. As soon as I passed my actuarial exam this summer, I had a time surplus that far surpassed anything I had this past year, even taking a full work day into consideration. Spending leisure time with no obligations whatsoever has been incredibly enjoyable, and I find myself much more relaxed than during the school year. Not any dislike of school itself, but the peace of mind and ability to separate work and personal life that I’ve had this summer is the reason that I’m not anticipating the school year with any particular excitement.
As I prepare my final presentation, I’ve been reflecting on what has been successful and unsuccessful about my project and time at work. The leading things I have identified have been careful planning of the project before I started and having clear objectives to aim for from the beginning of the summer. I know I like to leap head-on into assignments and projects with the sole aim of getting them done to their fullest regardless of how long it takes. Though I may have an approximate timeline in my head, I know I’m just going to work until whatever I’m doing gets done to my liking. For my project, I spent the first section of the summer researching background information on my project and trying to understand the basics of the life product and life insurance reserving methods, so I could understand the basis of what I was working on. I then made a detailed outline for my model, making flow charts of the data flow and trying to make the form of the reserving model fit the function for which it would eventually be used. Finally, I did the coding for my model so that a user can input the database file of policy information and Excel will automatically produce a report of how much money the company should set aside. I learned at the beginning of the summer that the model had to meet five different standards, and was able to work through and fit those all. Potentially, I could apply this framework to the upcoming semester. Knowing I have to balance a large load of classes, recruiting, leadership, and actuarial exam studying, I have begun to map out my priorities and focuses for the semester, knowing my goals for each class. Going through the semester, I know I will not be able to have anywhere near the same work-life balance as this summer, but if I can approach the semester with a clear plan and follow this rather than just throwing myself full-on into every assignment, perhaps I can get through the semester with less stress and more overall enjoyment.
Many people consider Boston to be a great city. The oft-agreed upon three worst things about it are the commutes, the rent prices, and the winter weather. I have been given a gorgeous summer, little concern about rent, and a commute that’s closer than some classes at school. How could I be more lucky? Thanks to everyone who made this summer possible. But for now, let the madness continue…