What kind of abilities/skills should a student excel in so that he/she remains relevant to the industry?
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The most basic skill involve Excel and database manipulation. Those are a given. After that, communication is critical. In my first job as an actuarial student I wrote and re-wrote a client letter 15 times before my boss found it acceptable to send to the client. It was very frustrating, but at the end I was a much better writer. After these two skills, computing and communicating, you need to begin understanding the markets you serve. Each is different, with regulations and customer demands that are unique. People look to actuaries to understand everything about the markets they serve. You should not disappoint them. Both technical and subjective topics need actuarial expertise. You can never stop learning, or even think about stopping learning.