A claw machine reaches down to grab one blue figure out of a line of orange figures. WSIA is hosting four symposiums for the 2023-2024 academic year: Philadelphia on October 19-20, Atlanta on November 2-3, Chicago on March 22-23, 2024 and Los Angeles on April 12, 2024. Photo: ink drop/Adobe Stock

WSIA is committed to developing awareness and outreach in surplus lines career opportunities among young and emerging talent.

Christine Timmerman, senior manager of student programs at WSIA, explains that during the last academic year, WSIA’s Talent Outreach Committee reached more than 3,100 college students through a variety of avenues — virtual or in-person college presentations (classroom visits or for student organization meetings), four symposiums (with a record 295 students registered for the Atlanta symposium), four Gamma Iota Sigma conferences, and college career fairs.

“Our volunteers adapt our PowerPoint slides to meet their own needs for each presentation and share their personal experiences with working in the industry,” Timmerman said. “One member created a Shadow Day opportunity for Georgia State University students in Atlanta.”

With financial support from the WSIA Education Foundation, the Talent Outreach Committee also conducts four Extreme Risk Taker student symposiums, which are primarily focused on students studying risk management and insurance, finance, actuarial science or business, although students from any major are welcome to attend.

“The goal is to educate students about the E&S industry and WSIA student programs and to help connect them to WSIA member firms who have internship and full-time opportunities,” Henry Lopez, head of financial lines at Navigators and WSIA Talent Outreach Committee co-chair said. “All symposiums offer an introduction to the excess and surplus (E&S) lines industry, educational sessions and panel discussions on current and emerging risks, a career fair, and networking reception.”

The WSIA Education Foundation provides very generous support for these programs so that students only have to pay a $25 registration fee, which includes a complimentary or reduced hotel room and some meals. The education session topics change each year depending on what interests the students have and what emerging issues have arisen.

WSIA is hosting four symposiums for the 2023-2024 academic year: Philadelphia on October 19-20, Atlanta on November 2-3, Chicago on March 22-23, 2024 and Los Angeles on April 12, 2024.

In addition, WSIA held a white paper contest with topics ranging from “catastrophic events affecting insurance availability and capacity” to “women in insurance.” A video contest included topics such as “social media and the impact on insurance” as well as “promoting the excess and surplus lines industry.” For this coming fall semester, WSIA is offering both contests with just one topic each.

Committee Co-Chair and President & CEO at Jackson Sumner & Associates, Danielle Wade, said the two contests provide an opportunity for students to do some research and present it in a creative way.

“These students can earn prizes of up to $3,000 for their projects, which is a nice support for their studies, and it puts their name in front of WSIA members,” Wade said.

Internships aplenty

Internships at WSIA offer students an opportunity to immerse themselves in the wholesale insurance industry in a myriad of ways.

As Timmerman explained, students typically participate in weekly workshops, lunch and learns, and meetings and may have a final project/presentation at the end of the experience. They rotate through some departments and shadow members, primarily brokers and underwriters. They may help underwrite accounts, help with renewals or work on special projects. They also have the opportunity to participate in many networking events.

Committee Co-Chair and Chief Wholesale Office, Markel Specialty, Wendy Houser, said that WSIA interns divide their summer between a wholesale broker and a carrier so they have both experiences.

“Our WSIA interns have some RMI background, so the chance to experience both during one summer is really beneficial for them as they move into their careers,” Houser said.

“The interns enjoy any hands-on projects that they can complete during the summer and the opportunity to shadow members during meetings to understand how the business really works,” Timmerman said. “Some are trying to figure out where their place is in the industry after graduation and this internship can help them solidify their plans.”

“In addition to the WSIA internship, with the WSIA Diversity Foundation internship, we also now have a conduit for students who do not have any RMI background to experience this industry,” said Gerald Dupre, president – head of excess and surplus lines, Core Specialty and WSIA Internship Committee co-chair. “These students gain an immersive experience with either a broker or carrier, and all interns now receive a scholarship at the completion of their summer position, which can help them continue to take RMI coursework and hopefully join us as industry professionals.”

WSIA continues to evolve and try to find new ways to support students and faculty and to build a diverse talent pipeline. The Association’s four committees that focus on students include 180 industry volunteers who are passionate about this topic.

“We had our largest intern class ever this summer, and just finished recording a new talent outreach video with 12 industry member volunteers,” Timmerman says. “We created a new video contest, are planning a new symposium in Philadelphia, and continue to expand our reach to a number of new universities and work to increase the number of college graduates who choose E&S for full-time employment.”

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