International Student Studies Actuarial Science as Interdisciplinary Major and Intern

Cassie Zhang '13is an interdisciplinary actuarial science major from Xuzhou, China, who is interning this fall at Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

 Describe your internship:

I am working at Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield as an actuarial intern. The length of this internship is 15 weeks, 24hrs per week.

 What are you doing and learning in your internship?

At Blue Cross, I am a part of the senior Medicare product team. I am supervised by two senior actuaries, and I'm working on an independent project of developing a brand new Medicare Part D (drug coverage) product. My day to day work is very analytical - handling lots of data, and I'm getting hands on experience about every aspect of developing an insurance product, including market research, legal compliance, financing, and most importantly how to price the insurance plan based on risks and uncertainties.

 Why did you pursue this opportunity?

This internship gives me a very good taste of what the work life is like as an actuary to see if it's the right path for me. It is also an essential experience required by my major.

 How did you find out about this opportunity?

The Society of Actuary ( is a very good resource for me as it provides a list of many the internship opportunities by region. Arkansas Blue Cross is the only company in Arkansas listed as hiring for actuarial interns at that time.

 Previous internships, Odyssey experiences, or related classes at Hendrix:

For the last three summers, I have organized summer English-learning programs for upper primary to high school students in my hometown Xuzhou, China, and invited Hendrix undergrads as teachers. My Odyssey experiences include being international ambassador to a foreign student; working as a tutor at the Math Help Center; and travelling to New York, San Francisco and Tibet to do a cross-cultural study on Tibetan Buddhism. The courses I've taken at Hendrix that relate to my internship include Probability and Statistics, Corporate Finance, Accounting, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics and Econometrics.

How is this opportunity related to your personal interests and/or professional goals?

I'm pursuing an actuarial license (FSA), which requires passing of a series of difficult exams that can depend upon experiences from professional insurance work. Upon having some essential courses and two preliminary (theoretical) exams under my belt, it becomes quite important for me to get into the working environment to gain experiences in order to progress in my career path.