In retrospect, I should have pursued a career in insurance sooner. During my college sophomore year, friends chided me for my enthusiasm when presenting a paper about the impact of climate change on the transportation of freight. I studied economics, statistics, and always had an interest in risk-related questions, but considered a career in insurance only after I joined Swiss Re approximately four months ago, which was one of the best decisions I've made. The recent discussion with Swiss Re's Monica Ningen and Keith Wolfe in Insurance Business (linked below) inspired me to share my insights as a Millennial career-changer and thoughts about the opportunities for attracting top Millennial talent to insurance careers.
Millennials are known for "job-hopping." In his 2016 LinkedIn study, Guy Berger found that the number of companies a Millennial will work for within five years of graduating has nearly doubled over the past 20 years. (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/millennials-job-hop-more-than-previous-generations-guy-berger-ph-d-) "Common hypotheses [for this] include the Great Recession, and Millennials being more interested than previous generations in trying out different jobs before settling on a career." I can confirm this trend within my own network of friends and colleagues. Immediately following college, Millennials often accept positions in which they do not expect to remain as a long-term career.
As noted by Wolfe and Ningen, many Millennial graduates want jobs that are worthwhile and will make a positive change in society. This belief resonates strongly with me because prior to joining Swiss Re, I worked as an inner-city Special Education/Math teacher for over five years. The record levels of participation among Millennial graduates in service programs like Americorps, Peace Corps, Teach for America, and City Year reflect the desire to “give back” and make a positive change in society. According to a 2014 report published by the National Conference on Citizenship, Millennials are the most service-oriented generation, with a 43% service rate (compared to 35% for baby boomers). (http://www.ncoc.org/civic-health-index-9/) In addition to public service, many Millennials in my social circle have opted to work for non-profits and start-ups in the years after college.
While corporate recruiting often targets very recent college graduates or experienced professionals within the industry, attracting and retaining top Millennial talent may mean expanding recruitment efforts to include candidates further removed from college and professionals with transferable skills in other fields. The diversity in perspective and experience that a prospect with several years' experience in public service, non-profits, start-ups, or another field can add tremendous value to the workplace.
Teaching was a rewarding segment of my career trajectory, and when I decided to move on, I was very thoughtful and targeted in my job search. Initially, it was daunting because every posting either required two years or more years of experience in a similar role, or was a program for recent graduates with little to no work experience. Discovering the Underwriter/Actuary position on the Professional Lines Team at Swiss Re bridged this challenging gap. I am so grateful that Swiss Re values employees with diverse professional experiences and was willing to take a chance on a non-traditional candidate!
Millennials are more likely to be non-traditional candidates like me, as fewer graduates go directly from college to their long-term careers. Recognizing these changing dynamics provides an opportunity for insurance companies to broaden their recruiting efforts to include less-recent graduates and career-changers. I completely agree with Keith Wolfe and Monica Ningen that insurance is a great fit for many Millennials, with a stunningly wide range of potential career paths and personal rewards. In closing, I would particularly like to echo Monica Ningen's statement, "I work with brilliantly smart people who collaborate to solve our clients’ needs. We build resilient communities."