Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A new journey to a new world....will I reach the shore?

Job search in January exposed me to the world of ACTUARIES. The first thing attracted about this job is that it doesn't expect candidates to have experience....all they need is to pass an exam to get an entry level job. I thought - wow, how cool is that.

My Google search led me to beanactuary site. Salary, prospects, age-no-bar, career makeover....everything sounded good. There were couple of sample questions related to P1 exam on the website....when I looked at it, I totally panicked. Long long ago, I was a math student and during that time, while I was learning probability/Statistics, I questioned myself - why the hell they make us learn sine, cosine.....blah, blah....when and where I will be using these knowledge in my life.

But now, I understand - how it answers and exposes to unknown, uncertain world with mere sample data and the pattern among the sample data.

Even though, I knew the actuary journey will be tougher, but I did not anticipate that it will be so unbelievably hard.

Maybe there is a pattern going on in my life where I always try to choose something impossible under my circumstances, and later when I fail, I cry about it, like chasing Steward. I never see what is close, right infront of my eyes, but chase something beyond my reach.

Whoever wants to tread this journey, should hook themselves to this website http://www.casact.org .  Once you sign up, you'll find a supportive group who are all treading under same water as you - the same fear of whether you can pass, the countless doubts ranging from problem solving to self-doubts about fulfilling your dreams.
When you think of giving up, that's when
you're really close to your destination.

There is one particular guy who is in his sixties - has passed the first exam after studying for an year - he is the one who inspires, always answers any kind of question. He is the one who motivated me to be on this course.

My sister always questions my judgement about why I'm pursuing such a hard thing. If I want a job, just to keep myself busy, why not to do testing or anything which is easier to get.

Well, I don't the answer, but I ventured out in this direction. I am enjoying the learning process, keeping myself busy, challenging myself even though I know, I suck. Even made a deal with God that if I get a paycheck this year, it indirectly proves that Steward really loves me and misses me.

Before I re-meet Steward, I need to find my identity or to create a new identity which introduces me as not-a-desperate-housewife-but-really-has-a-great-life-with-great-job-and -a-lovely-family. Like it or not, everybody is judged based on their job, aspirations.....
Yes, taking care of your own children and their well-being sounds lovely but nobody respects a housewife.

So anyway, through CASACT forum, I came to know that there are not many jobs, and many are waiting for Obama's health care to kick in which may open the gates of opportunities to entry-level Actuaries.

I thought, I will somehow manage to take May exam but the due date to apply for May exam is today and I am not comfortable about confirming my journey at this time - too early for me to say "YES' as all I know is what is what but not mastered each and every problem.

Finally, I queried the forum members:

I feel like I'm understanding the concepts when I going through the theory but while actual solving time, almost all exercise problems in ACTEX manual seems to apply new theory to solve. So every time it feels like I'm actually learning something new.  Do we have to keep on doing the same problems over and over to familiarize the concepts?
I went through one-fourth of Finan but thanks to a forum member, I got my hands on ACTEX study manual.....went through the theory and SOA problems....felt comfortable as the book covers exactly what is needed for the exam and every problem comes with a solution, so it was easy to learn without googling for every unfamiliar concept addressed my Finan's exercise problems.  Some of Finan's exercise problems pop up before the related theory, eg: Problem 9.9 has been asked to solve before introduction to Bayes' formula.

I did not solve any ACTEX manual SOA problems on my own as I told earlier, each and every problem  is addressing unfamiliar issues....so constantly I'm learning new concepts, new ways to solve, new ways to think After few days, if I see the same problem and if it is not a simple problem, I am not able to solve or having no clue of how to solve.

Is it happening only with me or everybody goes through this phase until you understand the concepts. The solution is to keep on doing same problems again and again until you clearly understand the concept and remember the process of solving the problem. I really need guidance on how to learn. I am overwhelmed by the whole learning process.

 Few members replied:

after a year of studying for P (I am a little slow, though) I never felt like I commanded it. I had a good number in Adapt, not an 8 though, and when I got to the exam, almost every single problem looked like a new one, almost like the last ones in SOA. Given infinite time, I would have solved them all. I ended up guessing like 5 or 6 and solving some of the most difficult, and leaving the ones where I had to do multiple integrals, not sure if by parts, lol, memory fails me now. I passed, barely, but passed. I was so happy, as after finishing the exam, thought I failed miserably, left a note complaining about the short time, and then after that I see a note saying I passed. Kind of exhilarating.

I have been a casual observer of this forum for a while. I just wanted to jump in for a minute and say that the advice and encouragement shared on this forum is very helpful to me as I take my shot at passing one of these exams. Thanks for those sharing their thoughts on the materials, studying and test experiences (we all seem to be in the same boat!) and especially those who have passed for sticking around and offering advice to those of us who have not. There are two types of actuary students: those who have passed an exam and those who have not, yet. 

Meanwhile, these is how I am studying: 
Wandering mind

Dirty Dance Movie

Actuary P1 exam
Actuary lessons along with art....
I suppose instead of a
guy and a girl conversation,
 it should have been policy holder and insurer....

a Venn diagram and a girl with whatever face.

So this is me swallowing my pride,
Standing in front of you saying,
I'm sorry for that night,
And I go back to June all the time.
 It turns out freedom ain't nothing but missing you.
Wishing I'd realized what I had when you were mine.
I'd go back to June, turn around and make it all right.
 I go back to June all the time.

I wake up at 5:45 AM, from then on, I get kids ready for school. Once they leave, I watch GMA while having breakfast. I can start studying from 7 or 7:30, but I feel lethargic as Sun is still not out, dark all over. I browse and do my ritual of searching any related tweet about my favorite airline and its members, and then I get depressed. Almost everyday other than weekends, I cry, not just cry, but wail in distress of not talking with Steward on that day while listening to songs on the radio. Recently, my neighbor passed away, my husband mentioned about family members crying softly. I asked, "how come they are not wailing", he said, "people cry, only if they miss them too deeply, when they can't bear the thought of never to see them again". Well, I guess, that's what is happening with me - the way I wail which is quite surprising for myself.

If I try, I can really spend 4 hours at least without any kind of disturbance but I'm not able to.

Finally, I have to express my sincere thanks to United States libraries, all you need is - to have a dream to study, dream to achieve something big, the libraries can provide you any book in the world without you spending a penny, with Inter-library loan facility. I am thinking to take the exam in July. Hope I'll study hard and not waste my time. FOCUS! FOCUS!!

30 questions in 3 hours.....multiple choice...easy right? NOOOOOOO!!! The questions will be hard and the points are given based on toughness of the problem, not straightforward points based on how many you got right.

Is it just one exam, and then you're settled????? NOOOOOOO!!!  First one is for entry. It could take from 6-10 years to pass all of the exams but experienced fellows have the potential to earn from $150,000 to $250,000 annually.

According to Hinduism, no experience goes waste. Every time when you move from one moment to the next moment you are expanding, you are growing, and you are learning. If you look from this angle even your death is auspicious because you are going to the next step. Only if you are not clear about the next step you will feel the fear of death.

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