Why Volunteer?

A longtime SOA volunteer reflects on her experience Jill K. Carpenter

Photo: iStock.com/piranka

I have been a volunteer with the Society of Actuaries’ (SOA’s) various Education committees for many years. When I started my career as an actuary, my boss—who is still volunteering for the SOA today—was an exam chair. Shortly after I got my fellowship, I asked him whom I should contact if I thought I wanted to work on an exam committee. Within a month, I had been recruited to write questions and grade exams!

From there, I took on various other volunteer roles with increasing responsibility. Then I took about a 8-year break due to my busy family life, but I got roped back in. I became involved with e-Learning and worked on the Fundamentals of Actuarial Practice (FAP) course from its inception. Today, I am privileged to be a part of the Education Executive Group, the volunteer oversight group for the SOA Education committees and a facilitator for the Fellowship Admissions Course.

Interested in volunteering with the SOA? Please visit the Volunteer Opportunities area of SOA Engage.

I am fortunate that I have been able to give back to the profession and the organization that enabled my career. In the process, I have gained so much.

Connecting With People

The most rewarding aspect of volunteering has been connecting and working with incredibly bright and dedicated actuaries. My experience has been that this group of people is looking for ways to make things work, as opposed to making excuses for why they can’t do something. And, the staff at the SOA is awesome.

I have added to my professional network through volunteering. When I was let go from my company after 20 years, I did what most unemployed people do: I compiled my list of contacts and started reaching out to people. My list included people I knew through my volunteer experience, and while they weren’t people who could offer me a job, it was great to connect with them and seek their advice. In the end, one of my contacts provided a lead that resulted in my next position.

Through my volunteer network, I have found actuaries to serve as a sounding board for me regarding career advice. I also have provided that service for others. If you need a contact at a particular company, your volunteer database is a great source.

Other Benefits

Through volunteering, I improved my business skills, such as communication, negotiation and leadership. I did not set out to work on these skills, but it was a byproduct of my experience.

Many volunteer hours also satisfy continuing professional development (CPD) credits. When it came time to track my CPD hours, I wasn’t scrambling to figure out what I needed to do to fulfill the requisite number of hours—I had enough through volunteering.

Of course, travel isn’t happening right now, but we will have face-to-face meetings again one day. I have been to many interesting and beautiful places across the United States and Canada to attend volunteer meetings. I incorporated some vacation time, as well. However, if you prefer not to travel as part of volunteering, virtual meetings will continue to be an option.

Volunteering for the SOA has been a rewarding experience. I encourage other SOA members who are interested to reach out.

Jill K. Carpenter, FSA, is the past general chair of the SOA Education Committee.

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