Stephanie, from Aberdeenshire in Scotland, is studying Actuarial Science in the School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences.
What appeals to you most about Heriot-Watt University?
I love the campus and how green it is compared to a lot of the other universities which are all built up and spread across a busy city centre. Heriot-Watt has everything in the one place and this helps make it feel a lot more friendly and social as it feels like its own little community on campus.
Do you feel your degree is preparing you well for a career?
Definitely! The Actuarial Science degree is accredited by the IFoA and the exemptions that I’m obtaining are helping me work towards becoming a fully qualified actuary. Knowing how rewarding a career there is at the end helps to keep me motivated when the course gets tough. On top of that, managing to secure a place on the PwC Flying Start Programme means I’ll have invaluable experience of seeing how the skills learnt at University are applied in practice.
Is your degree programme helping you to develop links with industry?
Heriot-Watt offers a professional mentor scheme where you are paired with a Heriot-Watt alumni who has lots of industry experience of working in the sector you are most interested in. This is really helpful to have as a form of networking and it’s good being able to chat with someone who knows exactly what you’re going through with your degree and is likely to have had similar ambitions to what you do right now. There are lots of events on within the University with guest speakers from different companies and the career service is always on hand to help you with anything from interview prep to applying for graduate jobs.
What impresses you about your learning experience at Heriot-Watt?
Having lecturers who are qualified Actuaries is really good as you can ask them questions about both the course and their own personal experience of the industry. It’s also interesting to know exactly how the course applies to real life situations and hear their take on the subtle differences between theory and practice.
Each semester there are aspects of both abstract maths which are new to what you’ve done before, plus applied maths so that you can take what you already know and see how it is used in real life situations. This helps keep the degree varied and interesting as the further you advance the more you can see the links between what you are learning and how actuaries use that knowledge as part of their jobs. Also, it is not only maths based courses you study; you can study the business side of it through finance and economic modules which I enjoyed as it adds a new dimension to the degree.
What are your hopes for your career? How will the knowledge and techniques you are learning at Heriot-Watt help you to achieve your goals?
I hope to graduate with a first and become a fully qualified actuary working within in a consultancy firm in a big city such as London or New York. Heriot-Watt has taught me so much in terms of mathematical content and knowledge of the industry, but I have also gained valuable soft skills from having the opportunity to adapt to a new environment whilst studying abroad and undertaking committee roles whilst studying here. I wouldn’t change anything about my experience here and would highly recommend Heriot-Watt and its Actuarial Science degree.
What would you say to prospective students considering studying at Heriot-Watt?
Go for it! There are so many opportunities beyond the top-class degree at Heriot-Watt. You can study abroad in Malaysia, Canada or Australia, you can undertake a Year in Industry and you can join any society ranging from the Student’s Actuarial Society to the Quidditch Society!