The Surety & Fidelity Association of America promoted industry careers to over 500 university students at Gamma Iota Sigma’s International Conference in Chicago from October 3-5. The theme of this year’s conference was “Amplifying Disruption” and featured sessions on blockchain technology and the #MeToo movement.
Even though there has never been a better time to join the industry due to the expected retirement of 400,000 insurance professionals, choosing a career path can be daunting, and it was the focus of many of the students in attendance. SFAA hosted an educational session entitled “Careers That Make a Difference” led by Daniel Wong and Vinny Carbone of CNA. They spoke about how they found the industry, what they do in their current roles, and what sets surety and fidelity apart from the rest of the industry. Ed Hubbard of Travelers also participated and answered questions about working in the industry as well as The Surety Foundation’s intern and scholarship program.
SFAA received compliments from students and faculty advisors, and the faculty advisors spoke of their desire to include more about surety in their curriculums, so students have a better understanding of it as they consider careers.
“The presentation was very informative and seeing how passionate they were makes me interested in a surety career,” said Tyler Becker, a senior from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
The conference also coincided with the opening of the application period for the 2019 intern and scholarship program, which expanded recently to include women, LGBT students, disabled students and veterans. This dramatically increases the potential pool of interns and students were enthusiastic about the changes and that the industry appreciates the importance of reflecting the changing face of America.
During a roundtable discussion among insurance associations, Sharla Floyd, Gamma’s Director of Development and Strategic Initiatives, highlighted the importance of diversity and inclusion for today’s students.
“These students are diversity natives,” she said. “Their world and the language used looks and sounds completely different than that of leadership in many companies. We want to provide a continuum between what they’re used to seeing and what they see at work.”
Among the findings from a survey of Gamma membership, the top three things students consider when choosing an employer are compensation, future growth and culture. Their bottom three concerns are sign-on bonuses, office perks and telework options. Actuarial students had a larger presence than in years past, making up 38 percent of the membership according to the survey and was evident in conversations with students visiting SFAA’s booth. The top desire for Gamma students is for their work to involve personal relationships, which is very promising news for the surety and fidelity industry.