“Insurance really is a ‘diamond in the rough’ amongst the likes of Banking and Law. It is the unknown and undiscovered market which provides a perfect balance of working and playing hard!”
I currently work full time at Markel following my recent completion of the 18-month graduate programme; however before this I was fortunate enough to secure a place on the summer internship programme. The below will explain in more detail how I found the internship and some hints and tips.
Why did you choose to do an internship?
I chose the internship because I was interested in insurance. Having family who work in the market, Markel was a firm that everyone recommended to me as having a good reputation. I felt that the Internship was the perfect length of time for me to get an understanding on how the market worked. It exceeded my expectations; I received ample support and was treated not as an intern, but as a part of the team.
The internship offered more than just underwriting experience, but also an 8-week real life project on how Markel can improve their Corporate Social Responsibility. The project allowed us to interact with senior members of staff, improve our presentation skills and teamwork. After a lot of research and consideration we compiled a detailed report on how the company can improve their approach to CSR. Having to present this report to a group of senior staff was nerve wrecking; however it gave us confidence for future presentations.
How did it tie in with your overall career plans?
The internship was the perfect opportunity for me to get a feel of the industry. It also provided an insight of how my day-to-day job and career plans could be implemented.
During the internship it quickly became apparent to me that insurance was definitely what I wanted to do – no questions asked! The fact that every day was different, the risks were very much out of the scope to day-to-day exposures and the balance between work and social was perfect. Once the internship had finished, it made me excited to return to the market and start my career in the world of insurance… it could not have painted a better picture of what my future career was going to look like.
What was the application process like? Any advice?
The application process was fairly simple in comparison to other industries. The standardised format still remained (online application, testing then assessment centre), however, the difficulty and complexity was manageable. The overall process required us to show our true understanding and passion for the London Market, and stretched our thinking beyond a simple recruitment process. This was done through a variety of testing techniques: group discussions, computer testing, interviews and presentations. My advice would be to always research the company well, understand their principal beliefs, practice competency interview style questions and be yourself!
What were the most important things you learnt from the internship?
The single most important thing I learnt from the internship was that I was capable of pursuing this career. Everyone I spoke to and worked for gave me the guidance and confidence to believe in myself. I also learnt how to adapt to the corporate world, both in terms of how business is placed and how to present myself. Furthermore, I was able to learn about the technical element of the job and how to navigate myself around the systems.
The combination of both soft and technical skills I developed during the internship put me in good stead for further development within insurance.
Do you have any advice for someone seeking an internship?
When undertaking an internship it is important to always keep an open mind, not every day will be the same and you’ll always be learning new things. If at any point you don’t understand anything, it is crucial that you ask as many questions as you can.
Use the internship as an 8-week lesson into insurance! Always be willing to help where need be and don’t be afraid of hard work. Take your time learning the more technical element of the role, and if possible do some background reading on the subject just to add some more clarity.
I also think it is very important to enjoy the internship and have fun! There are plenty of opportunities to let your hair down and enjoy the social side of insurance.
What skills did you acquire or improve during your internship?
Organisation is a key skill in insurance, there will be numerous policies and documents being processed at any one time, these documents are very important as they contain data and premium information; therefore it is crucial that your organisational skills are good.
Teamwork is also a key skill. The support of Underwriting Assistants and the knowledge from both Underwriters and Senior Underwriters work in tandem with one another to create a positive team atmosphere. Being technical in your approach to numbers is always a bonus, whilst there are not any complex mathematics involved, being able to calculate percentages, work out ratios and use Excel are important technical skills that will help you progress.
On a lighter note, being able to network effectively is also a fundamental skill for anyone looking to create business relationships.