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March 10, 2009

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This assumes you went directly to a two-year master's program after your undergrad degree, or have spent relatively little time between the two degree programs. Mid-career grad students can take a few pages from this playbook as needed for their own unique situation.

September and October, first year: Time to schedule another actuarial exam and study hard for it. Attend career fairs at your school and gather information about graduate summer programs.

November, first year: Apply to summer programs that interest you, and study for that next exam. Depending on your progress, you can take it either this semester or early next semester.

Winter break, first year: Follow up with your summer work applications and the contacts you've made. This may also be a good time to get another exam out of the way.

January and February, first year: You may have telephone interviews with the companies you've applied to for summer work. Get that next exam done, and reschedule for later in the semester if you don't pass.

March, first year: You may have the chance to interview for a summer program, so be sure to set aside the time and resources as needed. If there aren't any programs that interest you, or if interest seems to be tepid, work with your academic advisor to develop a research project that will get you talking to actuaries and into companies. Your presence there alone may stir interest in your capabilities.

April and May, first year: Solidify your summer plans. You should be working hard at an actuarial firm or engaged in serious research over the summer.

Summer between first and second year: Work hard! If you're not toiling away for a company, consider getting another actuarial exam under your belt.

September and October, second year: If you haven't already, schedule another exam and get studying. Again, attend graduate career fairs and meet with industry reps, renewing old ties and developing new ones. Graduate hiring programs are often less structured and more personalized than undergrad hiring, so be sure you know what the requirements are for each program.

November and December, second year: Work with your contacts and your advisors to determine the companies you should apply to, then apply. If you're ready for another exam, take it before the end of February.

Winter break, second year: Study for your second actuarial exam. Follow up on your job applications.

January and February, second year: Get yet another exam under your belt. Do follow-up phone interviews for jobs, and work the phones and e-mail for those positions you've not heard from yet. Schedule spring interviews.

March, second year: Interview time. Make sure you have all your transcrips, exam records and research at hand. Meet with as many as possible.

April and May, second year: Follow up with the firms at which you've interviewed. By the time you're ready to receive your master's, you should have a job in hand. If, after multiple actuarial exams, internships and grad school, you don't have an offer & hopefully your advisors will have steered you in a different career direction well before this unfortunate happenstance.

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Filed Under: Education

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