by: Tandeka Nomvete, External Engagement Director for Spencer Educational Foundation

In my senior year of college, I decided to switch my major from Actuarial Science to Risk Management and Insurance (RMI) and I desperately wanted an RMI internship! I knew the Actuarial Science career path and understood the exam process, but I didn’t know what the actual “job” was when one obtains a degree in RMI. I needed an internship to build out my resume and help position me for a full-time role upon graduation. Below was my process and lessons learned during this time – Hoping that this will help you along your journey of finding an RMI internship:

Revise Your Resume

Even if you have revised your resume 100 times, keep editing and upgrading it! Put your resume in front of as many people as possible and understand that each person who reviews it is going to give you a slightly different perspective and opinion. Not only should your family, friends, and professors review it but try to get your resume in front of working professionals and recruiting experts. I had revised my resume so many times and thought it was perfect, but one day my RIMS mentor took me to a lunch with his boss, and he had the foresight to print out my resume and bring it to the lunch that day. During our lunch meeting, my mentor’s boss grabbed a pen and started making tons of edits and scribbles all over my resume. I was shook! If you find yourself in this type of situation, you need to keep an open mind and be open to receiving constructive criticism. Without constructive criticism, you cannot progress. Those edits that he made to my resume on that fateful day transformed the resume from good to excellent. He provided so much insight that was specific to the Risk Management & Insurance industry and he helped me tailor my resume to make it stand out. That networking lunch literally changed my life and it would not have been possible without a mentor.  

Apply Everywhere

Armed with my newly updated resume which had been reviewed by an industry professional, I was ready to apply for internships! I kept hearing certain company names over and over again, so I knew I wanted to apply to those companies first. I searched the internet for a comprehensive list of RMI companies to apply to, but could not find anything. I ended up going with google searches such as top 100 insurance companies, top 50 brokerages, etc. Thank goodness for RISE, who in 2020 started providing a list of the top 50 RMI internships to apply to – This valuable resource will hopefully save many of you a lot of time. As a student, I created a tracking spreadsheet and started listing details of the companies that I was applying to. Columns I would suggest using are: Company, Job Title, Location, Website, Applied? Y/N, Date Applied, Resume Type, Contact Name, Contact Email Address, Next Steps. If you’re tailoring the objective or summary section on your resume, or if you have different versions of your resume, it’s important to keep track of which resume you send to which company – Which is why the “Resume Type” column is important. Now that your tracking sheet is ready to go – Apply everywhere! Start by making a list of 50-100 companies in our industry that offer internships. It will also help if you add a column for “Industry Sector” so that you can also keep track if the company is a Brokerage, Insurance Company, Third Party Administrator, Risk Management department, Consulting firm, etc.

Network, Network, Network!

Applying for an internship online is all good and well, but one thing that will enhance your success is networking. I found myself in a situation where after applying, I would receive emails and calls to do either an informational interview or a 1st-round interview. I would often progress to the final round of the interview process but was not receiving internship offers. It was very frustrating because I did not know what I was doing wrong. Networking is how I ended up getting my internship! After I emailed my updated resume to my RIMS mentor and his boss, they were both kind enough to share my resume with their networks. My mentor’s boss was a broker and he sent my resume to a Risk Manager in Florida, who happened to be South African. Guess what – I am South African! The Risk Manager encouraged me to connect with her and we set up an introductory phone call. We immediately connected and she then sent my resume to all of her contacts that offer internship programs in both Florida and Georgia. One of those contacts was a broker at Marsh in Florida who then sent my resume to Marsh New York and it wound up on the desk of the recruiter who was managing the national internship program. He gave me a call, and a few days later I was doing a four-hour interview at Marsh in Atlanta. A couple of weeks later I received my internship offer – Just in time for the summer!

Lessons Learned

What I didn’t know at the application stage was that obtaining an internship (or entry-level job) can be a long and arduous process that can sometimes take months. It’s not as simple as apply today and you’ll get the job tomorrow (no matter how fantastic of a student you are)! After the recruiter reviews your resume, they have to decide if you’re going to progress to the 1st-round interview stage. Then there is a 2nd-round, and often a 3rd and 4th round. The company might even call it an “informational discussion” or say they want to set up some time to “chat” with you, but you must recognize that any conversation with the company is an interview, so you should treat it as such. The earlier you start your application process the better, to allow more time for interviewing. Before I received my internship offer, I was low-key freaking out because I was applying to tons of companies online, but I was not receiving any internship offers. I didn’t know how fierce the competition was for internships. Had I understood the importance of networking earlier on, I would have spent just as much time joining RMI groups and associations and seeking ways to network with working professionals.


Not sure where to start? Several organizations and professional associations within the RMI industry would be happy to review your resume and assist you along your journey as you seek an internship. Some recruiters serve as career coaches that can point you in the right direction. Get involved with your local RMI community and start networking. These days, you can network virtually just as effectively as in person. Keep in mind that these opportunities will not just come to you – You have to seek virtual meetings that you can join and turn on your camera & speak up to meet new people. The nice thing about virtual networking is that it takes up less time and you can connect with people from all across the country. Examples include joining virtual RIMS chapter meetings in various locations and joining the Spencer Educational Foundation’s monthly networking sessions for students. Tell your professors that you are interested in traveling to attend regional and national RMI-related conferences. Raise your hand to volunteer with a nonprofit organization. Do what you can to secure face-time with RMI professionals and have your elevator pitch ready, so you can share your story. Don’t be shy to let them know that you’re seeking an internship and would appreciate any assistance that they can offer (including an introduction to other contacts).

Wishing you all the best with your journey to finding an internship. Feel free to connect with me and I’d be happy to point you in the right direction. Don’t give up – You got this!

By: Alatta Lawrence, Actuarial Science Major at Georgia State University

Q: What do you look for when choosing an internship program to apply for?

A: There are several factors that I consider when choosing an internship: the type of work the company does and whether there are areas of focus to launch my career, the corporate culture, the growth opportunities, and flexibility given to employees to discover their niches, and the overall values that the company deems essential to their existence (community involvement, employee programs, clientele centered, etc.).

Q: What is most important to you about a company when considering interning/employment?

A: A company’s willingness not just in word, but in action, to provide the best resources possible for me to succeed and in turn bring value back to the workplace.

Q: What things stand out to you about a company?

A: A company’s involvement in the community stands out to me. I am a firm believer in paying it forward, and companies that take time to step outside the corporate bubble to lend a hand and develop the surrounding communities gain true admiration and consideration as a potential place to start a career.

Q: When you start looking for your full-time job what factors will you take into consideration? (Location, benefits, time off, remote etc.)

A: Some of the factors that are considered are the benefits, time off, location, compensation, personal development training, mentorship, and the potential of working remote.

Q: What responsibilities do you want when interning?

A: The responsibilities that I prefer when interning are impactful/meaningful work and a workload comparable to what it would be working as a full-time employee. I desire to know that what I will be spending my time to learn and develop won’t be locked in the closest when my internship ends.

Q: What type of impact do you want to make in an intern program?

A: The type of impact that I want to make in an internship program is to absorb all that has been taught and turn it into value, so that I can be a part of the solutions to problems within my team that will be in use long after I have left.

Q: You have had a few intern experiences, what differed? 

A: I did one in person and the others virtually. During my internships, I was involved in meaningful work, however, completing an in-person internship gave a better feel for permanency. I was able to connect with more people at the company and get a primary feel for the culture. Additionally, nothing beats walking over to my manager’s desk and working out solutions together.

Q: You have experience in the military, how do you feel that contributed to your working experience as an intern?

A: Being in the military has contributed to how I see the world and interact with people. During my military tenure, I learned a lot about myself, how I learn and interpret information, how to effectively communicate with people of different backgrounds, making effective plans, prioritizing my schedule, and the list goes on. That experience was transferable to my role as an intern because they helped me discover how to handle certain situations and what worked and didn’t.

Q: Do you plan on doing another internship?

A: I don’t plan on doing another internship because I have already lined up my full-time employment upon graduation.

Q: How do you think a company could support interns?

A: The best way to support interns is to strategically place them in areas that they will be the most impactful and assigning projects that not only pulls on what they have learned in the classroom but throughout the duration of their internships. Additionally, giving them enough room to fail and learn from those mistakes.

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.

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.