So you just got an offer for a great internship that you’d really love to take, but you already accepted an internship a few months ago from another company and they are expecting you to start in May. It was a good company, decent pay, and you felt some pressure to commit at the time because it was the only/best offer you had and they weren’t going to keep the position open forever. Can you renege on (back out of) your acceptance of the first offer? Should you?

It’s not illegal, but it’s also not without consequences.

Going back on your commitment to join a particular employer, even as an intern, is something companies take very seriously. It is considered unprofessional and unethical because you are not keeping your word, essentially breaking the foundation for trust. You most certainly will “burn a bridge” and miss out on future opportunities to be hired for paying positions by that company. The company will be put in a difficult decision to either extend an offer to the runner up they already turned down (and who probably accepted another offer) or to start the recruiting process all over again in the final hour. 

On campus, your school may have certain consequences depending on how the internship was obtained. If it was on campus recruiting (OCR), they can ban you from future job fairs, resume workshops, and career resources. Even if you didn’t get your internship through OCR, some companies may contact your school, who could still impose sanctions because they feel that students reneging on accepted offers harms the school’s reputation with employers they count on for donations and student placement.

Finally, you have a personal reputation to uphold. You may think that the only person who knows is company A, but recruiters talk, people change companies, and you’d be surprised at the potential harm down the road in your chosen industry. If you worked with a recruiter, internal or external, they won’t be willing to put their own reputation on the line for you again. Additionally, internal recruiters can move to other companies, causing you issues down the line should that person be working for a company you want to work at. There are plenty of cases where candidates have lost both offers due to people who knew about the situation talking. At the end of the day, you have to decide if your word matters and if that is a personal value you want to uphold. 

Prevention is key to avoiding an ethical dilemma.

The trend of reneging offers is becoming increasingly more common, mostly due in part to a competing marketplace for talent. Companies are contributing to the problem by moving dates up sooner and sooner, and some pressure candidates to accept offers even up to a year before. However, leading employers understand that top talent has choices and will respect and work with you through exploring those options, within a reasonable timeframe, provided you are open and communicate. 

Let the company know that you haven’t finished hearing back from all of the companies that you’ve interviewed with, and you want to make an informed decision, but that you are interested in working there.  If you don’t really intend on accepting their offer, release it to someone who really wants it. Stay in communication and jointly agree on a date that you will get back to them. Without the communication, they will assume you don’t really want to work there and give the offer to another candidate. Alternatively, if you drag it out unnecessarily but ultimately end up joining, you show that you aren’t that excited and could cause an awkward situation when you start.

Know what is important to you about an internship and be able to vet out opportunities up front. If an internship is missing a “must have” on your list or shows any reg flags, don’t waste their time or yours. If you’re truly excited and it really is what you want, trust your gut, commit, and stick with it. Your intuition is usually right.

As for return offers, your best bet is not to accept them to begin with, unless you are 100% sure you want to work there post graduate. You won’t be the same person you are in one year from now, and it’s probable that what you want from an internship will be different too. While this may not seem logical at first, you most certainly will have other offers next year and the purpose of interning is to gain broad experience. If you already interned with a company, give another a try. You don’t know what you don’t know, and this is the best time in your life to unapologetically try new things.

If you do renege, be as professional as possible.

If after careful consideration, you do decide to renege your original offer, be as professional about it as possible. Let them know as soon as you can, so they can start working on a backup plan. Write a letter explaining the situation and apologize for the inconvenience you have caused. This will minimize your reputational risk. You can even recommend a replacement, which they surely will appreciate. Under any circumstances, do NOT wait to no show on the first day.

Don’t renege and still win.

You still really wanted to accept that new/better offer, but you’ve decided it isn’t worth the risk. Both the current employer and the prospective one will thank you. You can write a letter to the prospective employer and let them know that unfortunately you have already committed to another company, but that you would like to be confirmed or considered next year for an internship/full time position. They will understand and respect this, and most importantly they will respect you. You will build good will with the new company and open a door for future positions, while protecting your reputation with the current one. At the end of the day, it’s the right thing to do.

You’ve been through months of revising your resume, applying for internships, attending virtual job fairs, and interviewing with companies. You finally have an offer, but you need to make sure it’s the right fit. Your internship sets the foundation for your career. Ask yourself these questions before accepting:

  1. Am I excited about the work I will be doing?

When it comes down to it, will you be happy with what you are doing for the length of your internship? Do you find it valuable and useful to your career as well as enjoyable?

  1. How did the people I met throughout the interview process make me feel?

It’s important to feel comfortable with the people you’ve met with so far. Did they make you feel welcome? If you had a chance to meet the teams you will be working with, are you excited to work with them? 

  1. What are the hours like?

Will the hours work for you and your schedule? Are you planning to take any summer classes you need to schedule around? What will this mean for your current daily routine?

  1. Do I care about the company’s mission?

The answer can be no, but it could also be yes. If you get excited about what the company does, its culture and values, you know you’re on your way to a good fit.

  1. What else did I learn throughout the interview process?

How did the company answer the questions I asked throughout the interview process? Did those questions make me more or less excited about the company? Were there any red flags?

  1. Are there opportunities for professional development or full-time work?

Post-internship, will there be full time opportunities and is that important to you? What other professional development are they offering? What skills will you learn?

  1. What are the pay/benefits?

Obviously pay is important. Look at the total benefit package available to you, not just the hourly rate. Weigh this against your other options and expectations. Is this negotiable? Is it a fair offer?

  1. Is the structure (virtual/in-person/hybrid) ideal for me?

You’ll have to weigh the benefits of both. Virtual is convenient and flexible, however you miss out on some of the interaction with people as well as the feel for the company’s culture in the office. In Person has more opportunity for collaboration, community involvement, and spontaneous learning, but sometimes lacks the flexibility of schedule and location.

  1. Do I have any other offers on the horizon?

It can be exciting to get an offer, but if you have other opportunities that you haven’t heard back about yet, it could make sense to wait to accept. You want to avoid reneging an offer. If there is a deadline you are unsure of meeting, consider asking for an extension. If you know that this is the one, trust your gut and go for it!

  1. Can you see yourself succeeding in the role?

Can you visualize a successful internship with this company? Do they have clearly defined goals? Did they give you assurance that they will equip you with the skills necessary to succeed?

Entry-level Underwriter $45-55k

As an underwriter, you’ll provide credit decisions as well as review medical, legal, financial, and occupational information to determine insurance rates. You’ll also review risk management plans and procedures, and deal with applications and renewals, acceptance, and rejections. You’ll be expected to have a deep understanding of risk, insurance policy coverage, and financial responsibility. Ultimately, an underwriter is the individual who decides if a company should offer insurance to a particular risk.

Entry level Claims Adjuster $45-55k

As a claims adjuster, you are the one to fulfill the company’s promise to pay for a loss when something bad happens. You’ll be responsible for strategic processing and payment of claims while keeping abreast of regulations and legislation in regards to insurance claims. You’ll be in charge of strategies, developing budgets, and overall supporting the operational infrastructure. Most importantly, you interface with the policyholder when they’re going through a bad time and help them restore their life.

Marketing Associate $45-55k

Insurance is competitive and each year companies spend Billions on marketing. Marketing and branding go beyond TV commercials, extending to social media, YouTube, internal communications, and more. As a Marketing Associate, duties can range from arranging proposals and presentations using marketing resource materials to coordinating client communications to internal marketing.

Actuarial Associate (Actuary 1) $65-70k

Using pricing and risk assessment, an actuarial associate is a support role that focuses on projects of limited complexity. They may work in conjunction with more experienced actuaries to develop probability tables that estimate the probability and cost of certain events—death, illness, injury, disability, or loss of property. However, it’s important to note that an actuary has quite a bit of education. 

Risk Management Analyst $70-80k

As a risk management analyst, your job will be to protect your organization’s assets. You’ll forecast potential losses, work on solutions to eliminate or reduce risk, and monitor and report on controls. You’ll also work on risk model construction.

Junior Data Scientist $77-97k

As a Junior Data Scientist, you work on projects that change the fundamental roles of traditional insurance professionals by applying machine learning, statistics and business applications to models. You will prepare tables, graphics or software tool components using statistical/biostatistical/machine learning capabilities. You also will assist in the interpretation of results and writing of small sections of technical reports/presentations, and support Senior Data Scientists in data cleaning, coding and validation.

At our last Engagement Committee Meeting we asked, “What’s your favorite thing about or that you’ve done with RISE?” Here’s the top 10:

  1. Conference Scholarships – I loved being able to go to a conference and meet people and learn. It was one of my favorite experiences. My company wouldn’t have sent me otherwise. I can’t wait for in person events to be fully back.
  2. Mentorship Program – I met an amazing mentor and so much came out of that. My friend is also in the mentorship program and she loves it. She even made an important career decision and got out of a job she hated, but was convinced to stay in insurance. She probably would have left the industry otherwise. (Check out Mentorship Program)
  3. Virtual Halloween Party – The virtual costume party last year was my favorite thing. It was so much fun! (View upcoming events)
  4. Elite 50 – I love that we are highlighting internships. That’s so important for our industry! (More about Elite 50 Internships)
  5. RISE Awards – Of course, I’m so grateful for being recognized as a RISE Award winner. (2021 RISE Awards)
  6. Nationwide Networking – A lot of other groups are local or specialized. I love that with RISE you meet so many people I wouldn’t normally have the chance to interact with.
  7. It’s FREE – I really love how RISE is free. Every other group I’m a part of charges a membership fee and my company doesn’t always cover it. RISE is very inclusive this way and I get all my CE covered. (Join RISE free)
  8. Committees – I love the committees and being able to work on cool projects while meeting other members. I hear a lot of different perspectives from other companies and areas of insurance. (Sign up for committees)
  9. College Connections – I’m helping with college reach outs and I love that I’m able to represent RISE to the school where I graduated and tell students about Insurance.
  10. Sense of Community – Above all, my favorite thing is all the great people I’ve met through RISE and the sense of community everyone has. (Follow us on LinkedIn)

If you’re new to RISE, we hope this list helps you find something to get involved with. Come join us at our next meeting!

InsureTech Connect did not disappoint with the energy and buzz of everything new and exciting in insurance.  From insurtechs to technology companies, from AI to traditional insurers.  Everyone who is anyone in insurtech gathered in Las Vegas this week.

In Wednesday morning’s interview with Chubb CEO, Evan Greenberg, we covered a broad range of topics. Here are my top takeaways:

  1. Technology: Our best growth years are yet to come. Digitization of insurance isn’t the hard part. We’re challenged with the need for new skillsets, reworking organizational structure, and a shift in culture.
  2. Fundamental Culture Shift:  “We used to consider ourselves an underwriting company. Now we are an underwriting and engineering company. It sounds simple, but it means so much more.”
  3. Cyber Risk: Having the right people who understand the security and vulnerabilities of systems are key to underwriting cyber risks properly. What we lack (and need to create) is a governing body, which sets standards to which systems and software can be measured against.
  4. Modeling: Models are just predictions – not truth. They are the basis for risk taking, but things are changing constantly.
  5. Global stage: Like with competition in business, we (the US) need to focus on running a better race.  Completely untangling from China is unrealistic, and there have been benefits on both sides.  If we were to focus on our strengths and bettering ourselves, we will do a better job protecting our own interests.

We’d like to hear from you!

What skillsets do you think we need to source or train more of as we progress in our digital journey?

From a carrier perspective, what do you think it means to now be an underwriting AND engineering company?

Do you agree with Mr. Greenberg on global trade?

By: Donna Friis, PE and Brad Gronke, EdD

The First Step

There will be awards and recognition throughout your career as you excel.  When you resiliently pursue your own vision of superlative quality, and consistently exceed your goals, people will notice.  Some may not enjoy the public recognition.  A simple thank you is good enough for these individuals yet others enjoy being a public example to follow and lift people up with them.  Recognition is a natural human need and according to Maslow falls just below our self-fulfillment needs as a psychological need.  Esteem needs such as prestige or a feeling of accomplishment can come through many different forms of recognition.  One very valuable source of recognition is from a promotor. Think of a cheerleader at a football or basketball game.  They want nothing more than to have their team win the event, or at minimum, a friendly enthusiastic and vocal supporter.  They are not the referee and cannot control the rules of the game.  They are not the coach and cannot improve the technical skills of the competitors.  They are promotors.  They will motivate with everything they have to encourage their team to win.  Promotors in the professional world are very similar.  Promotors work very hard to ensure visibility for their people both inside and outside of their organizations.  Have you ever wondered what people say about you when you are not in the room? Promotors inform anyone that will listen to them that you are the best person for whatever is being discussed.  As you build your career, find as many promotors as you can. While you are building your own leadership skills, advocate for those deserving of recognition too.  Be a promotor.

The Best Award

One of the greatest recognitions personally received was when it came from a mentee and someone that was promoted.  A personal note communicating that an impact had been made in someone’s life.  They were changed because of the relationship, time, and effort that was put forth.  They were successful.  Their success is our success as promotors and mentors.  

We have these formal terms such as promotor or mentor.  Do we all really know what they mean and how we can achieve our own best awards through our work in these areas?  Exploring the true meaning and value of the relationship are the specific areas of focus for this journey.  Setting out on our journey we will come across some additional questions like can you be a promotor and mentor, for the same person or are they mutually exclusive?  We all have time constraints, should we be promotors or mentors?  What about the investment of time by mentee?  Lastly, it’s always important to know we are just getting started! 

We need to look forward and see the importance of goal setting.  What steps do we need to take to find our next mentee? Will they find us? Just remember, if someone doesn’t look like you, they probably don’t think like you, and if they don’t think like you, they can help you think differently![1]

Subtle Differences Make All the Difference in Mentorship

There are intentional needs for each of the ways to provide lift to others.  Building people can be very rewarding but before we begin doing so, we must understand how we can do so.  Mentoring relationships need some very specific focus areas in order to achieve successful, measurable outcomes.  There are seven total focus areas for the mentor-mentee relationship including transparency, authenticity, time commitment, process, feedback, accountability, and intentionality.[2]

A mentor and mentee need to allow themselves to be transparent about the relationship.  There needs to be an understanding that there will be a safe space created for growth and development.  Boundaries should be established clearly at the start of the professional relationship with the understanding that keeping an open mind will allow growth to happen.  It’s okay to be a little vulnerable.  Sometimes people are scared when they hear the word vulnerable.  They may think that if they are vulnerable they are weak.  Quite the opposite is actually true.  When we open ourselves up, we are being authentic.  We need to realize what we don’t know could fill mountains yet we still have a lot of information we can learn from each other. An authentic leader can easily invoke trust from their peers.  Creating a safe space allows the mentor-mentee relationship to be more authentic and allows for the efficient use of everyone’s most precious commodity, time. 

When mentoring we want to ensure that each session starts and ends on time as well as we keep our promise to meet when we say we are going to do so which builds trust.  Starting and ending each mentoring session on time is about respecting everyone involved but it is also about following a process. 

There are several different processes for mentorship available to utilize.  We will not dive deep into each of those now but will leave that for future discussion.  The specific process that you implement is not as important as your commitment to follow the process once started so that you do not get distracted.  Focus your journey on what’s important now.[3]  In many processes and in all mentoring relationships there needs to be a feedback mechanism without either participant in the relationship becoming defensive.  Instead of feedback, I like to think of it as feedforward.[4]  A mentor wants to always improve and grow just as much as a mentee.  Feedforward is a concept to be able to help identify opportunities and build upon strengths through goal setting.  This reinforces another part of the process likely present no matter the one chosen, having your mentee selecting goals and writing them down.  The concept of feedback, at best, offers a sandwich approach with a positive observation of past performance, a negative one, and then ending with another positive observation.  Instead of focusing on past performance use feedforward to focus on the future. 

In considering goals and writing them down as a part of most mentoring processes there also needs to be accountability.  Mentors should be positive leaders and engaging their mentees but being positive is not nirvana.  Showing your mentee professional love and commitment through positive reinforcement requires holding them accountable throughout the relationship. 

The last piece of good mentoring summarizes approach to each of the previous focus areas and that is intentionality.  Setting up clearly defined roles, goals, and boundaries at the onset of the mentoring relationship with intention will yield the most successful outcomes for all involved. 

Be intentional about your transparency, bringing your authentic self into the relationship, time commitment, following the process, feedforward, and holding each other accountable.

These are the basics for a successful mentoring relationship. 

Once we know the basics of mentorship, we can then see the advantages of finding a mentor and serving as one.  We learn from each other.  We will build upon our technical skills through mentors that are in our same area of professional focus and industry.  Mentorship does not have to be only about technical skills; it can and should be about human skills as well.  We will not call these soft skills as they can be very real and some of the most challenging to learn so we will call these human skills.  Human skills can include active listening, empathy, holding effective courageous conversations, intelligent disobedience, being a partner follower, and many more.  These essential skills for growth and development can certainly be learned by someone in your same professional focus area and industry but why limit yourself. 

The world is massive and yet becoming smaller by the second through global organizations as well as technological advancements in communication.  Seek out mentees and mentors within your professional focus area and outside of it as well.  Success will come through the mentoring relationship not because of what your mentor does each day but because of why your mentor does it.  The passion is what drives us to get out of bed each morning with an attitude of gratitude.  You don’t need to limit yourself to just one mentor or mentee either.  Learn from as many as you can.  Make an impact in as many lives as you can.  Just remember your time commitment.  It’s also okay to say no in order to produce a quality relationship.  As you build your career, find as many mentors as you can. And, as you are building your leadership skills, increase the knowledge of those willing to listen and learn. You owe it to yourself to increase your knowledge, you owe it to the world, to help others be great by being a great mentor.   

[1] Bakalar, Kristin, Subtle acts of inclusion, In2Risk, 2020

[2] Fitch, Beth, Effective mentoring, 23 March 2018

[3] Holtz, Lou, Winning every day: The game plan for success, 1998

[4] Hirsch, Joe, The feedback fix: Dump the past, embrace the future, and lead the way to change, 2017

Join RISE at the ACE conference as we interview David Vanalek, Chief Operating Officer of Claims at Markel. We learn about his scariest interview question, advice for those looking to move up the ladder, what skills he’s hiring for, and some innovative initiatives he’s involved in.

RISE interview with Brian Pozzi, Vice President, Office of General Counsel & Corporate Claims Officer for AAA-The Auto Club Group at the 2019 ACE Conference in Las Vegas, NV. From court room to board room, Pozzi shares his take on the industry and advice on advancing your career.

Join RISE at the Connected Claims Conference in Chicago as we interview American Modern Insurance Group’s CEO, Andreas Kleiner, on the industry, technology, hiring, and career advice. He talks about having a truly global career with a positive impact.

RISE founder, Amy Cooper, interviews Sedgwick CEO, Dave North. From firefighter to insurance industry. Listen as we hear Dave’s advice to young professionals, aspiring leaders, and those looking to advance their career.