Department of Mathematics

Student placement case studies

Some of our students talk about their experiences:

Student placement experience at Legal & General - Amy Van Damme

Undergraduate Student Amy Van Damme What is your placement position and what does it involve?

 My placement position was an Actuarial Pricing Analyst for Legal & General. I worked in the life insurance pricing team, observing market movements and reacting to competitors’ price changes. My job was to monitor the life insurance market and apply my knowledge of game theory when reacting to the market, running different scenarios of premium changes to determine which is most profitable. One of the significant tools used continuously over the year was the coding software, R Studio. I had only briefly used MATLAB at Sussex before commencing the year in industry and now can comfortably use and understand R.

Why did you apply for the placement you are in now?

I applied for the actuarial placement year at Legal & General as it allowed me to gain experience and insight into an industry and business, leading to future career opportunities. For example, I have an insight into what becoming an actuary will entail and has helped me when considering studying for the actuarial exams after university. Also, the role requires mathematical understanding, therefore meaning I would be putting the problem-solving skills developed during my course at university into practice for the actuarial placement.

Would you recommend a placement year to someone else?

I would recommend a placement year for many reasons. Firstly, you get the opportunity to learn so many new valuable skills such as coding and advanced Microsoft Excel skills. This experience sets you aside from other students who haven’t completed a year in industry when applying for graduate jobs. Finally, it can be hard to decide career choices after university, therefore a placement year will help determine if the line of work you choose for a placement is enjoyable or not. In my case, I very much enjoyed my placement and am keen to gain a further insight into actuarial roles after my last year at Sussex.

 Undergraduate Student Amy Van Damme Undergraduate Student Amy Van Damme Undergraduate Student Amy Van Damme 

Amy Van Damme - Mathematics with Economics BSc (with a professional placement year)

Student placement experience at The Pensions Regulator - Alicia Jolly

What is your placement position and what does it involve?

I am on a 12-month placement with The Pensions Regulator as an Actuarial Modeller. This involves a lot of Excel work to analyse raw data and put it in to a form that our departments can use.

I have also taken the opportunity to complete coding courses using R and am now working in a coding role too. I am responsible for building a dashboard that is an interactive webpage to enable you to build stocks and analyse data much quicker.

I had no idea of what I wanted to do, so used this placement as a chance to gain some experience in order that I can make informed module choices for my final year. I had considered actuarial work as an option but really did not know what this involved so this placement is ideal.

Does your degree help you with your current career?

My degree has provided some help for this role but perhaps indirectly, as the modules are very different to the work I am doing. My degree has helped me to problem solve as trying to figure out what to do is not always straightforward and this has helped me to persevere. The logical thinking that I practised during my studies has helped especially with the coding aspects.

Did you acquire other skills useful for your current career whilst a student?

The social aspect of university has helped prepare me as it can be quite daunting going in to a corporate environment. I have always been involved with music throughout my life but usually as an individual. In my first year, I joined the Show Choir Society and then the Musical Theatre Society, which has helped to build my confidence in working with others.

Would you recommend Maths at Sussex to someone else?

Yes, I would. You get a broad knowledge and I think that it is good to have core modules for the first two years, to build your knowledge base. The academic support is great too and they are always around and happy to help you.

Would you recommend a placement year to someone else?

I definitely would. I have enjoyed it so much. It has given me a welcome break from my studies and given me an insight in to what I want to do so my module choices will be easier. The structure at work has been great and I will certainly take this work ethic back to my final year. I am looking forward to returning to university and feel that this has given me the chance to refresh my mind.

Alicia Jolly - Mathematics BSc (with a professional placement year)