If I sat down and asked my colleagues for their career interests, I would be very surprised if anyone would mention insurance. Unfortunately, the reason for the lack of curiosity is directly correlated to the lack of information provided to young professionals on this industry. As a result, the “boring” and “old-fashioned” reputation still exists today. As a soon to be college graduate with having a taste of what it is like to work in insurance, it did not take long to realize the negative connotation surrounding the industry is far from reality. By being an ever-evolving industry with countless opportunities, I want to share my experience and spread the word of why insurance could be upon the top chosen industries of young professionals.
Before I go into talking about insurance, I want to tell my story of how I wondered into the office of a top 20 mutual company in the United States. I am the grandson of a family business owner that has been passed down for, soon to be, three generations. My grandfather, the founder, was a hard-nosed man that had the drive to make a name for himself. As a result, he discovered a business opportunity within the service industry. Instead of going to the grocery store to purchase dairy products, he decided to provide convenience to the consumer and deliver their products to the doorstep. In 1965, Joe & Ross Inc. was founded and today it is recognized as one of the largest distributors of dairy and frozen food in the state of Illinois and northern Indiana. So why would I decide to branch off and start my own career path? I guess I have my grandfather’s genes; I want to make a name for myself. With the support of my family, my journey began.
How someone usually answers the question how they entered insurance usually results in two common responses “By accident”, or “My family member is involved in the industry”. I happen to fall in neither of these categories. Coming from a family business, insurance is the viewed as an extra expense that must come out of my family’s pocket. I cannot fall into the industry by accident category due to the fact I still have a year left of my undergraduate from Butler University. I happen to be one of the few who was introduced to the wide range of opportunities within the industry before graduating from college. A mentor of mine brought up the idea of insurance and I was interested. As a result, I scheduled a meeting with honorable professor and he offered me an opportunity to sit in a few of his lectures within the Risk Management and Insurance school to simply listen and see if it was an industry for me. After a few of his lectures, I was introduced to the wide variety of what insurance truly is. There were more layers to the industry than the simple life, health and auto insurance everyone’s mind goes to when the term “insurance” is mentioned.
Prior to the summer going into my senior year, I was lucky enough to have an opportunity to job shadow a day in the office of an insurance carrier. Through a friend of a friend, I was able to look over the shoulder of employees at work and see the daily operations of each department. During my visit I was acquainted with a well-respected insurance professional who expressed his passion for developing young insurance leaders whom make an impact on the industry. It did not take long for me to buy into his philosophies and wanting to learn from his lifetime expertise. A month later, the opportunity presented itself and I accepted an internship as fast as I could. When I told my parents the news, I received a hesitant response. My parents were supportive, but they did not take the news warmly and responded with “Are you sure? I don’t know if this is going to be exciting enough for you”. With this response, of course I became hesitant on my decision. On May 28th, 2019, I began my first day as an Encova Insurance employee and I would be lying if I said all my worries did not carry on into my internship. However, throughout my summer experience, I was exposed to the true sense of what it means to work in insurance. After a few months of being intimately involved in the operations of an insurance carrier, the worries became absent. Insurance is not what I thought it was; it is a whole lot more. A career in the industry means:
Helping Others & Making A Difference:
Everyone knows the famous question as child. The question of “what do you want to be when you grow up”. For me, the answer was simple; all I wanted to do was help people. So, some days I wanted to be a doctor or teacher, and the others I wanted to be a fire fighter or a police officer. However, I was consistent on one note, not one time did the word “insurance” come out of my mouth. Without realizing it, I was describing “Insurance” from the beginning. The insurance industry is all about the process of safeguarding the interests of people from uncertainty and potential losses from unfortunate events. Insurance companies are the ones there for individuals in some of the worst moments of their lives. Unfortunately, catastrophic events do happen. But by working in insurance, you have the ability to lift the burden off the shoulders of anyone effected. Last year alone, United States insurance companies collectively payed over $1 Trillion to people to get back on their feet. By working in insurance, you help others and truly make a difference in their lives.
When I came home from my job, the first question I was asked was how my day went. I can truthfully stand by the statement of saying I never replied with, “just a typical day”. The reason being, one day I could have a meeting with the C-Suite executives of a multi-million-dollar corporation and the next I could be walking in construction boots through a small, family owned, concrete plant. As a result, I was always learning the operations and exposures of new a company within different industries. Every day involved working with a new client and each company brought their own obstacles; each giving me an opportunity to learn. With technology growing at rapid speed, insurance professionals must learn and evolve at the same pace, if not faster. Due to this, the daily tasks of an insurance employee are going to become much more challenging and exciting. The future of drones, self-driving cars, and the overall advancement of the cyber world bring risks to the table that the industry has never seen before. And it is our job as future insurance professionals to analyze and manage that risk.
With over 50% of the workforce being above the age of 45, there is a lot of experience within the field. From the involvement at my employer, it was not uncommon to be introduced to a seasoned veteran with nearly 30 years of experience. These associates of mine were more than willing to take time out of their busy schedules to pass on their knowledge to young individuals who are enthusiastic about the business. Their willingness comes from the culture of the industry but also relates to having the need to fill their shoes. When the knowledgeable workers are no longer with the company, they want the shoes to fit the feet of the ones filling their place. The truth is, that time may come earlier than you think. In the upcoming years, 400,000 insurance industry experts will be lost to retirement and only 5% of the job openings would be filled up with the current Risk Management & Insurance (RMI) majors within the United States. While the market for recent college graduates containing many majors are unpredictable, RMI students have proven to find a job within their field of studies with an average job placement rate of over 90% prior to walking across the stage on graduation day. By the vast number of retirees, there is enormous opportunity for penetrating, learning, and making a difference in the industry at a young age.
Room to Grow Your Career:
My biggest fear about stepping foot in the corporate world was being at the same position for too long and becoming one with the office furniture. In other words, I was nervous about not being able to grow and advance in the industry. However, the first day on the job I was introduced to many of my coworkers – all with different career paths, titles and designations. As a result, my pre-existing worries were thrown out the window. Within the insurance industry, there are numerous ways to advance. There are resources to earn professional licenses and designations to further your credibility among peers and continuing education courses to overall develop the skills it takes to succeed and advance in the world of insurance. The best part is, there are no age requirements to hinder your advancement. My mentor explained the career path as this, “In insurance, you are in the driver’s seat of your career. All of the resources are available, so drive as far as you can”.
As simple as this sounds, it is true. If people are alive, and history shows people are living longer, insurance is and will be the critical for everyday life. Since 1347 in Genoa, Italy, insurance has been in existence. Today with all the new technology, legislation, and areas of employment, insurance is and will be in high demand. According to Statista, as of July 2019, there are 2.66 million individuals in the United States employed by a company working in insurance. To add onto the workforce, the industry is expected to see a 9% growth within the next five years. To put the industry sector in perspective, there are 40 % more employees working in insurance within the United States than all McDonalds employees worldwide.
Within insurance, you have options. There are many career paths and each job all serve a great purpose within the business. The best part is, each profession accommodates to different interests and skill sets by offering a wide range of interesting jobs. Skills including analytical, organizational, technical, problem-solving, and communication are all utilized in some fashion throughout the industry. There are jobs that analyze data, research industries, interact with c-suite business owners, investigate conditions, and so on. The truth is, there are careers in insurance for anyone who is interested. And the need for insurance professionals is in high demand.
Here to Stay:
Unlike most occupations in the business world, the demand for insurance does not fluctuate with the state of the economy – the products in this industry are not a commodity. Insurance is an absolute necessity for the world to function, for people to take risks, and for people to get back on their feet again after a loss occurs. Everywhere you and I look, without knowing it, we are surrounded by insurance. The construction sites you see, the hospital visits you attend, or the car you drive – it is all insurance working at its best. As you can see, the world will no longer be able to afford to offer luxuries we live for. However, with a career in insurance, we can be the backbone of the world we know and the world we want see in the future.
Prior to my experience, I related the term insurance to old-fashioned and boring as well as the costliest expense on a firm’s balance sheet. However, I was able to explore the misunderstood industry and discover the rewarding business for myself. If you want to have a fulfilling profession that includes helping others, has variety, has opportunity, has the ability to grow your own career, has stability, has many career options and will forever be applicable. Insurance is an industry waiting for young professionals to take it by storm. The question is, who are going to be the ones to take advantage of the hidden opportunity?
About Kyle Niemiec
Major: Senior, Butler University, Finance With A Focus In Risk Management & Insurance Telling my father that I didn't want to follow in his footsteps when it came to my career path was one of the hardest conversations I have had. However, as I look back four years later, I could not be happier about creating my own story. Making this decision was a big risk, but life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely. Here is my narrative, and yes, it is a career in insurance?