How To Build And Demonstrate Business Skills 

Building business skills is an important part of today’s fast-paced world. And these skills can not only be used in the business world, but in a school setting as well. 

So how do you go about doing this, especially as you go into the actuarial field? 

Here are some initial steps. 

First, you want to identify past and current situations where you have built business skills. Then, take inventory of the skills you already have. Once you have those two things done, then it’s time to take action. You’ll want to seize, as well as create opportunites to discover, build and develop new business skills that will serve you well in the days, months and years ahead. 

There’s a famous quote that goes: “Your FATE determines your fate.” The first FATE is an acronym meaning: Focus, Assets, Time and Effort. The more you use these four attributes in developing business skills, the more successful you will be in business.

In business, taking the initiative is always a good thing, and bosses like to see this. While in meetings, raise your hand and volunteer projects or information. 

You can also talk about your career goals with your boss, or manager. They will likely have tips for you as you move up the ladder of success. Again, asking questions like this shows initiative. Attending, participating and leading is a simple way to move through business meetings and gain those all-important business skills. 

If you are still in school, or want to go back to school, even part time, choose classes that will help you develop business skills. Focus on requirements for your major, graduation requirements, VEE (Validation by Educational Experience) credits, plus classes that would look good on a resume, and of course, fun courses that still have a purpose in building the skills you need to succeed in your chosen field. 

Four courses that will assist you in upward business success are:

  1. Oral communication, which involves speech preparation and various purposes of communication—persuasion, information, and so on.
  2. Business Writing: This helps you learn to communicate so people will read what you’ve written. This type of course helps you think about how to structure notes for ease of use, as well as writing brief, effective emails, as well as professional, person-to-person communication.
  3. Believe it or not, acting classes can help you get over the emotional hurdles of interviews as well as going into consulting. Acting can help you be able to deliver something, even if you’re feeling fearful.
  4. Computer Science: this type of course helps with strategic processes and logic, which can help you to think about your target audience as well as your personal future. Computer programs are about the “Ifs, Elses, and Then” statements. How this works: “If this happens, then another thing will happen. If this thing does not happen, the defined ‘Else’ kicks in.” This applies equally well to how you make decisions in growing your business career. Putting comments in code assists others in learning how your program works; this can translate to making sure people in business meetings know the details of your particular project, so everyone’s on the same page.
  5. Classes in Excel/Word/Powerpoint are also helpful, as they teach you specifically how to navigate and use these specific tools that most businesses employ to keep things running smoothly.

Concerning extracurriculars: being a leader in various organizations is always a plus. Find a role that makes sense for your interests. You don’t always have to be president of a group. You can just as easily be the treasurer, or secretary. These, too, are important leadership opportunities. If you are treasurer, be the best possible treasurer—learn how to communicate effectively about the group’s finances. This will serve you well later. If you are the secretary, taking minutes for a meeting, you have the opportunity to learn how to pay attention to things said and done during a meeting in your college group, which, again, translates very well to the business world beyond college.

Also, joining something like Toastmasters is always a plus. If you don’t have a local Toastmasters group, discover how to start one and do it. That’s a leadership opportunity right there. Plus, if being an actuary is where you want to go, and you’re still in school, joining a local actuarial club will truly be a benefit. In addition, there are always actuarial internships where you can get hands-on learning.

There are also certain personal characteristics that an actuary has that will blend themselves in with the business skills. These include self-motivation, creativity, independence, ambition and perhaps most importantly the ability to work with others. Having an excellent business sense, with a strong knowledge of finance, accounting and economics is also a huge plus, so developing that knowledge will help you get you where you want to go on the road to being an actuary.

Again, strong computer skills, as well as solid problem-solving, project management, as well as written and oral communication skills are a must, especially since you will be communicating with companies who depend on your knowledge and expertise. If you’ve been thinking about building business skills to be an actuary, you’re likely someone who enjoys learning, likes to solve complicated problems—which is where the computer science courses can help boost your facility with logic and “debugging” programs. Those skills definitely translate well to the actuarial field.

Also, being an actuary involves being interested in a wide variety of historical, social, legislative and political issues, as it is possible you might choose to go to work for the government on any level, be it city, state or federal. Even smaller towns need actuaries, so getting involved with certain organizations on the local level when you’re starting out on this journey is going to be immensely helpful.

Regardless of where your actuarial journey takes you, the more business and leadership skills you have under your belt, the better.


Want more help with your journey?

  1. Actuarial Community: Feeling alone on your journey? Become a part of the Actuarial Journey Community!
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Let us know in the comments below – Which one of these principles do you think would be the best for you to focus on for the next month?