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Risk Mgmt and Ins Higher Education Scene

Selling Risk and Insurance as a Major

Brenda Powell Wells | November 30, 2018

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College students in a lecture hall

The joy of teaching college students has always been a great one for me. I love working with students who have a passion for risk management and insurance (RMI). Admittedly, I first have to "sell" them on our industry, but that's okay.

When I was a young undergraduate student at the University of Georgia, someone sold me on it, and to this day, I have no regrets. After over 30 years, I still find it just as interesting as I did the day I declared my major in RMI.

One way that I recruit students is I go into freshmen and sophomore level business classes (thanks to the generosity of colleagues who also believe in our RMI program) and I do what may be described as a little "song and dance" routine. I show a video, and then I explain that there are four things to look for in any major.

  1. Do you like it? I tell them what we've all learned by the time we're 40, and that is you have to really like what you're doing or else you'll be miserable. And, life is too short for that. I always tell them, "If you don't look forward to your major field classes, you're in the wrong major." RMI is always changing, always challenging, and always necessary. It's also fairly recession-proof compared to many other industries.
  2. Is it marketable? Can you get a job with that major? With many RMI programs in the country running a near-100 percent employment rate, the RMI degree is very attractive in this regard. Our talent crisis is very well-documented, and jobs are plentiful in both the standard and nonadmitted markets.
  3. Is it flexible? Does it give you options? This might be my favorite selling point of RMI as a career because there's literally something for everyone in our industry. Introverts, extroverts, homebodies, world travelers, mathematically gifted, mathematically challenged … there's a place for most everyone.
  4. Do you get excellent service and attention from your faculty? Do they know you by name? Do they help you find jobs? Do they invest their time and energy into developing your talent? Do they take you to conferences and provide experiential learning opportunities? These are all very critical because no one ever thrives in a faceless, nameless, and impersonal environment. The best RMI educators I know are never afraid to pick up the phone and call an employer to find a student a job. They willingly give of their time to trek a few hundred miles to a conference or symposium. They are thrilled to write letters of recommendation for their students.

If you're reading this and working in RMI, I hope you agree with points two and three in terms of how attractive this industry is. Sadly, as we all know, there's somewhat of a negative impression of insurance out there that we have to constantly work to overcome. I have seen it improve a lot over my 30-plus years in RMI, and I know that trend will continue!

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