The University of Olivet’s insurance and risk management program is one of the best in the state, and as graduates enter the professional world, there’s no doubt that the program is having a profound impact on its students.
“One of the things our program does that’s different from others is that we bring a lot of practical experience in addition to the textbook academia,” Tom Humphreys, CPCU, CLU, ChFC, CIC, director of the The University of Olivet risk management and insurance center and assistant professor of insurance and risk management, said. “Faculty members have extensive industry experience. Students get a good idea of how things will work when they graduate.”
Because of the broad knowledge professors share with students, they learn an abundance of professional skills along with the skills they develop in the classroom. Insurance and risk management majors receive personal assistance in building their resumes and preparing for a career in the field.
“Besides the learning material that comes with insurance, I think the biggest thing Professor Humphreys taught me was how to get an internship or job,” senior Corey Meyer said. “He always pushed me to reach out, talk to people and apply for scholarships, even if I felt under-qualified. The fact that you tried makes a great impression.”
Corey claims that she fell into the career, but she’s more than happy that she did. She also feels well-prepared to enter the professional world.
“The insurance program enabled me to begin an internship and see firsthand what happens in the insurance world,” Corey said. “In my case, it was experience as an auto claims adjuster. There were resume workshops, mock interviews and career fairs which all prepared me for speaking with employers and learning about different companies.”
Professor Humphreys echoes the importance of internships as part of the curriculum.
“The program requires at least one internship for graduation, and many will have two or three before graduation,” he said. “It gives them a real feel for the direction they want to go when they leave.”
Another way Olivet is grooming young professionals is by partnering with Farm Bureau Insurance to provide an insurance program for high school students. According to adjunct professor and program instructor Greg Brown, the class gives students a head start on their career.
“They learn the basic principles, policies, both personal and commercial,” Professor Brown said. “They also learn soft skills in the business environment.”
Junior Phillip Hawes started his insurance education in the high school program and was immediately inspired. He stresses that the class solidified his original interest in the industry.
“The high school program opened my eyes to what a great industry it is,” he said. “Ever since I was little I loved helping people. Insurance is a person and relationship business.”
With many people retiring from the insurance industry within the next few years, Corey expresses the importance of getting involved in the field.
“Many people who have been in the industry for decades are retiring, and there are plenty of jobs available,” Corey said. “Along with this, it is a great career with learning experiences. There is something new happening every day! That’s what’s so exciting about insurance.”
Phillip plans to become an excess and surplus lines wholesale broker after graduation. He sees it as a way to meet new people and build relationships. He encourages those interested in insurance to promote innovation.
“Insurance has a torn image,” Phillip said. “Some carriers in the past didn’t do things right. Let’s be the change — there is something in this industry for everyone.”