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Saakshi Lodha: Columbia’s Actuarial Science Faculty, Courses and Networking Helped to Define a Career Pathway in P&C Insurance

After earning a Bachelor of Engineering from the Pune Institute of Computer Technology, Saakshi Lodha made a decision to pivot to a career as an actuary. After researching the breadth of courses and insurance career tracks in the United States, Lodha chose to pursue an M.S. in Actuarial Science at Columbia. With graduation soon approaching, Lodha is taking advantage of Columbia’s powerful network, including the Career Design Lab’s new e-Mentor program and gaining experience through internships. She recently discussed how the program has helped her to further define her career plans and her relationship with e-Mentor and Actuarial Science alumna, Kiana Lashgari, '19SPS, Senior Actuarial Analyst at Willis Re.

What compelled you to sign up as an e-Mentee?
Being a Career Design Lab Intern, I am always looking for ways to participate more in activities brought on by them. When I heard about the e-Mentorship program, I was very excited because it was a great way to network and gain one-on-one career guidance at the same time. Looking at the list of potential mentors further solidified my interest as there were some really qualified professionals that I was interested in connecting with. I am very glad I signed up!

What was the most rewarding or surprising part of the e-Mentorship?
As a graduate student nearing the end of the Actuarial Science master’s program, I was stressed looking for full-time opportunities for myself. The rewarding part was the immense help that I gained from my mentor, Kiana Lashgari. She went out of her way to guide me through multiple strategies, from mock interviews to negotiations to broadening my view of pathways to becoming an actuary. We are now great friends and I would highly recommend her to future e-Mentees!

What led you to pursue an M.S. in Actuarial Science? Why at Columbia, in particular?
I started my career as an actuarial student in early 2018, passing multiple exams. My mentor in India then told me about specific courses in the U.S.; upon further research, I came to the conclusion that they would be the perfect fit for me to continue my professional journey as an actuary, especially since the U.S. insurance market is one of the most diverse. After applying, I chose Columbia University over other programs due to its opportunities to network with industry leaders and its perfect geographic location to gain experience.

What are your career aspirations? How is the Actuarial Science program and the Columbia network helping you to stand out among your peers?
I am pursuing a Fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society (FCAS) designation in the coming years. Columbia's Actuarial Science network helps me branch out into different lines of business; everything and everyone from Columbia’s faculty and career staff to the coursework itself has guided me to a better understanding of the right career path for me. Industry-leading professors Don Mango and James Maher in particular greatly influenced my decision to pursue property and casualty insurance.

What has your Columbia experience been like as a student from India?
I have found my experience to be quite pleasant. I have been able to build quite a good network here and have taken some great courses that I thoroughly enjoyed. Columbia's location is, in my opinion, its greatest advantage and I have been able to obtain a wonderful experience out of it.

A photo shows Actuarial Science student Saakshi Lodha on Columbia's campus.

(Pictured above) Lodha enjoys a break over the summer on Columbia’s campus. In addition to interning with the Career Design Lab, Lodha completed an internship with Milliman actuarial and consulting firm and participated in the CDL’s first e-Mentorship program this fall.

Learn more about Columbia’s Actuarial Science master’s program and explore the services available to Columbia SPS students through the Career Design Lab.