Inspired Millennials Blog Series

Over the past few years, millennials have taken their place as the largest segment of the U.S. labor force, with more than 1 in 4 American workers born between 1981 and 1996. Today’s 20- and 30-somethings make great employees and are fiercely committed to their work.

Our blog series, Inspired Millennials, features young professionals in the insurance industry who discuss their ambitions and career trajectory, and provide advice to young adults considering careers in insurance. If you are a young professional in the insurance industry and would like to tell us about your experience, contact alewis@werthpr.com.

Inspired Millennials - Why I Chose Insurance - Andy Farver Westfield

March 3rd, 2020

Name: Andy Farver
Alma Mater:Ashland University
Degree: Finance Major with minor in Accounting and Marketing
Company: Westfield Insurance
Title: Recruiter
Length of Time with Westfield: 10 years
 

Why did you pursue a career in insurance?

It was something that I really didn’t have on my radar as I was going to college. I actually had heard about this company called Westfield. My parents had Westfield policies for some time. I knew it was one of the larger companies within Medina County, so I started doing a little bit of research into it. I started too late to find a business-related internship, so I actually got plugged into the Westfield IT department. For me the pursuit of the insurance industry all fell on that internship and realizing the world of opportunities that’s out there in the insurance industry. 

What does your day-to-day look like as a recruiter in insurance?

On the surface, recruiting is looking for the right person to fill the right role. I have a blend of lenses, but I still focus in on college recruiting. A big chunk of my time is spent building relationships and partnerships with colleges and universities to share the world of opportunity with students that may not recognize all there is to do within our industry. A lot of my time is spent on college campuses, at career fairs giving presentations at networking events. I am also in charge of entry level hiring all the way up to leadership hiring as well. I connect with individuals through LinkedIn and other social networking sites, sharing the word on why Westfield and Northeast Ohio is a good place for a career. I do quite a bit of interviewing. We run quite a few screening interviews and phone interviews. We also have an online on-demand video interviewing tool that we use for those screening interviews.

Do you have any mentors in the insurance industry?

There are pockets of people I know I can go to, to learn more about the pulse of the industry. The Ohio Industry Institute (OII) keeps me connected on the insurance industry through Ohio. I can blend that with a group called the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). It’s national group that brings people together in the college recruiting space. Then individuals at the collegiate university level focus in on career development and job placement for their students. 

What’s the culture like at Westfield?

The culture is engrained in our 170 years of history. We were founded by a local community to ensure we weren’t taken advantage of by faulty policies. There’s that fabric of community and hospitality. We’re a connected group of people working here so it’s not just about coming and putting in your 9-to-5, it’s about creating meaningful relationships and partnerships in groups of people and teams. We’ve had a workplace transformation that has gone on over the past few years. We’ve renovated our existing office space. We built a 90,000 square foot building. Part of what you’re seeing is the blending of an environment that represents a tip of the cap to the heritage and everything that has been put into Westfield over the past 170 years, but it’s also providing a workspace that is conducive to the business world that we’re all seeing today. So it’s a place where we’re able to build relationships and connect with individuals, not just within their own team, but throughout the entire company.

What do you say to someone considering a career in insurance?

The industry has recognized that not every student goes to school thinking they’ll be in the insurance industry. There are great risk management and insurance programs and then there’s the Gamma Iota Sigma community. Beyond that there are training opportunities where if you are unsure if you have what it takes to jump in, there are companies that are there to support you and mentor you along the way. I did an internship in the IT department. I underwrote and now I’m in the HR department. The last push if a student is still undecided - it’s an industry where you can jump into it as long as you have a curiosity and a willingness to learn, you can pivot careers and change what you’re doing relatively easily and be able to try something else out if that one thing you were jumping into isn’t entirely what you wanted to do for the rest of your career.

 

Inspired Millennials - Why I Chose Insurance - Colton Young Ohio Mutual

November 8th, 2019

Name: Colton Young
Alma Mater: Florida Southern College 
Degree: Bachelor’s in Computer Science, minors in Psychology, Sociology and Business 
Company: Ohio Mutual Insurance Group
Title: Senior Programmer
Length of Time with Ohio Mutual: 2 ½ years
 

Why did you pursue a career in insurance?

I didn’t initially intend to pursue a career in insurance. I remember specifically saying in high school I’d never want to have a desk job. That just didn’t seem like the way I wanted to spend my life, at least with what I thought working in insurance was like. After I graduated and applied for jobs, the first call I received was from Ohio Mutual. I came in for the interview and from the very first moment I walked into the interview room, I noticed the company was a bit different from what I initially thought. We have our guiding principles on the wall in all of the meeting rooms. It really struck me that this is a company that is really about the people we serve and I thought that was pretty cool. I ended up taking the position and haven’t regretted it a bit.

What does an IT career in the insurance industry look like?

You don’t really think of IT being within insurance, but at this point, IT is involved in any type of business out there. You have to have IT to keep up. It’s really a necessity. For insurance, IT allows you to connect to your policyholders. Their expectation today is to interact with you through a mobile app or a website. A lot of them don’t want to wait on phone lines for a representative. One of the primary jobs of IT is to make the customer experience better, which is often through self-serve options.

Do you have any mentors in the insurance industry?

My first boss here, Amy Sullivan (Manager, Application Programming). She clearly invested in me from day one, personally and also professionally. She’s encouraged me to attend conferences or to get Insurance Institute designations. She’s encouraged me to get my Master’s degree, which I am doing now. She’s supporting me every step of the way.

What’s the culture like at Ohio Mutual?

The culture is very clearly to treat every single policyholder or agent as if they’re family. It’s probably one of your worst days when you’re filing a claim, so we know you’re not looking forward to that day. We want to make sure we treat you like a person, get you back on your feet, and take care of you like you’re a friend. That care for people underlies everything that we do. 

What do you say to someone considering a career in insurance?

There’s so much opportunity and so many open positions - it’s job security. It pays well and it allows you a lot of opportunity to grow in your own direction, to find your niche within the company and to find what you enjoy doing is possible in insurance. This is not just a numbers job. It’s about serving people.

Inspired Millennials - Why I Chose Insurance - Steve Danquah Encova

October 13th, 2019

Name: Steve Danquah        
Alma Mater: Wilberforce University, Graduated in 2014 
Degree: Bachelor’s in Computer Science
with a Minor in Nuclear Engineering
Company: Encova Insurance 
Title: Integration Developer
Length of Time with Encova: Three years
 

Why did you pursue a career in insurance?

My first job out of college was at a government contracting company and unfortunately they downsized. I applied for a job at Motorists (now Encova) because I knew I could fulfill the duties of the role and was curious to see what IT at an insurance company looked like. Thus far it’s been a very rewarding experience and I’m constantly learning something new.  

What does an IT career in the insurance industry look like?

Working as an IT person in the industry has been great because they give me the ability to pursue what I like, which is cool. Insurance has so many different specialties. If you like working on the front end, you can do that because there’s a lot of work in this space to improve a user's experience whether on the web or mobile to make sure they have an easy and seamless experience. I work primarily on the back end, which is the nuts and bolts of it all. I make sure that the systems that need to talk to each other do, so that regardless of the customer -- whether it's the agent, underwriter or policyholder -- they have a sense of ease while doing business. That part is critical to what we do. 

What’s been one of the biggest challenges in your role?

When I first came to Encova some of the core business processes were running on older technology. A fun yet big challenge for me was working with our team to transition our core business processes to a modern technology and framework. I had to learn the different types of insurance and various insurance terminologies quickly. It’s then that I realized how broad and deep the insurance marketplace really is. Everything I’ve learned over the past three years has been instrumental in helping me understand how to build a good insurance product.

Do you have any mentors in the insurance industry?

Yes, Ralph Smithers who is the AVP for Diversity and Community Relations at Encova has been a great mentor to me. He’s someone I can always talk to about work and life in general. I’m an advocate of mentors because young people need them. Life can be difficult and it’s always good to have people you can talk to and bounce ideas off of.  

What’s the culture like at Encova?

In the IT department it’s very laid back. Usually I wear jeans and a collared shirt to work. There’s a level of trust here where as long as you get your work done your supervisors are pretty flexible with you.

What do you say to someone considering a career in insurance?

There are a lot of great opportunities for people interested in IT. And there are different things to learn whether you’re interested in IoT, RPA, APIs, Guidewire or Cyber Security or even specialize in different programming languages such and JavaScript, C# Sharp, Java, or Angular. Insurance companies touch on so many different technologies that there’s sure to be an area that you like. 

As an African American I would like to say that coming into the insurance industry can be sort of a culture shock at first -- at least it was for me. African Americans are underrepresented in the industry, especially in IT. We all know that diversity is an asset for a company, and it would be great to see more African Americans and other races in college internship roles and other roles with insurance companies. There have been a lot of barriers to diversity historically, and it’s important to see companies working hard to diversify their different departments. After all, insurance is something that everyone needs, regardless of race.