Christopher Cabrera Lands a New Role at PricewaterhouseCoopers

Christopher Cabrera discovered his love for actuarial science through a process of trial and error. Born and raised in Miami, he attended the University of Florida with the intent of perhaps pursuing engineering or finance. Ultimately, he majored in Finance with a minor in Actuarial Science. Of the subject in which he minored, he tells Columbia, “I realized that it was what I wanted. It included mathematics, which I enjoy, as well as other practical disciplines. It was the perfect blend for me.” After a brief stint as a systems analyst for a Florida-based healthcare company, he decided to pursue a master’s degree in Actuarial Science.

He left Florida for New York in order to attend Columbia. He was particularly drawn to Columbia’s Actuarial Science curriculum, which included core courses but also allowed him to explore additional subjects of interest. He also noted the program’s exclusive networking seminars, which introduced students to representatives from top insurance firms. While at Columbia, Cabrera served as president of the Actuarial Society at Columbia University (ASCU), which helped him further develop his network and his leadership skills.

After a summer internship at PricewaterhouseCoopers, he was offered a full-time position as a Life Insurance Associate. We spoke with him before his new job commenced to discuss his path to becoming an actuary and how Columbia helped him land his ideal job.

What made you want to pursue your master’s degree in Actuarial Science at Columbia in particular?

Columbia is in the financial capital of the world and attracts the best students and employers. It seemed like the perfect fit.

I researched several schools, and what distinguished Columbia's program was that it offered curriculum customization plus networking opportunities. The customization element really spoke to me. It allowed me to complete the required courses while also exploring additional subject areas – extra courses in finance, for instance.

I was also interested in the networking opportunities. We had pro seminars throughout the semester. We brought in company representatives from the major firms: Prudential, AIG, MetLife, Deloitte. They pitched their companies, and you could speak with them one-on-one afterward. These seminars were geared to getting your foot in the door.

What elements of the program have been most valuable to you so far?

I ran for the board of the Actuarial Society at Columbia University (ASCU). I ended up becoming president and working closely with the school’s administration. I had bi-weekly meetings with the dean to set goals and work toward them together. I urge prospective students to get involved as I did. It’s a great opportunity.

You had interned at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Can you tell me more about that?

Yes, I interned with them last summer. I had sought them out during my junior year of college, even though I wasn't sure at the time whether I ultimately wanted to be an actuary. I ended up keeping in touch with my contact there. That's how I got interviewed for an internship at PwC after I passed my exams.

You recently graduated from the program. Can you tell me about your job search?

Typically, toward the end of an internship at one of these firms, they will give you an offer or not. I got a job offer from Pricewaterhouse. I’m about to start working for them as an Actuarial and Insurance Management Solutions (AIMS) Life Insurance Associate. I'm very excited.

What is it like to work at PwC? Can you describe the kind of work you will be doing and the ethos of the company?

The organization is fairly organic. It doesn’t have a rigid hierarchy. The people who work there are very upbeat, very ambitious, very purposeful.

The main three skills that you need in order to work there are technical skills, theoretical math skills, and people skills; we work in teams, so you need to be able to communicate with associates and partners alike.

The company I work for is pretty exciting. When I walked into PwC, I felt like it was very much “me.”