B.S. Mathematics: 2002, John Carroll University

Do What You Love, and Everything Else Will Fall in Line

“What would I do after college if I majored in Math?” I asked myself.  The question swirled around in my head as decision time drew closer.  “I mean, I love math.  It’s my favorite subject.  I can’t imagine going through a semester of school and not taking a math class. But what would I do with my degree besides teach or become an actuary?”

Well, there’s a book out there called 101 Careers in Mathematics.  If you haven’t looked through it yet, talk to Dr. D’Ambrosia.  She has a copy and would surely lend it to you.  It was this book that led me to the following conclusion:  If I major in math, I’m going to be okay.

So here’s career #102:  I work for a property and casualty insurance company in the Loss Control department.  Loss Control is exactly as it sounds.  We evaluate current and potential customers in an effort to minimize our losses (what we have to pay out if something happens).  We visit customers and walk through their plants.  We evaluate the safety of their facilities, make recommendations that help to make their employees and premises safer, and determine whether the customer is an acceptable risk.  All the while establishing and developing relationships with customers.  If we determine that certain aspects of the operations could result in harm or injury, we make a recommendation to control that part of the risk.  Sometimes controls (e.g., a better sprinkler system) cost money and take time to put in place.  It’s our job to help customers see the importance of putting controls in place and to help them see that the investment will pay off in the long run.  For me, it’s the best of both worlds: combining my love for math/engineering with helping people.

Majoring in math at John Carroll was one of the best decisions I ever made.  And I have never looked back.  Besides finding the coursework fascinating, studying math helped me to better formulate arguments.  Math isn’t just about number crunching.  It’s about logically proving a point using the available tools and information.  Majoring in math improved my writing skills in English and Philosophy classes.  In the business world, I am better able to justify why I made a particular recommendation to a customer, why we need more staff, or why a change in workflow would be beneficial to the company.

The open-door policies of my professors not only helped foster my development as a student, but it prepared me to feel more comfortable approaching my boss.  The intimate environment of a small class of students made us feel like a family, like a team.  It led to my continued success as a team player in the business world.

When you’re standing at the crossroads, it’s hard to not think about everything at once.  You’re a logical person, right?  So answer one question at a time.  Choose your major first, and then choose your job.  College is your golden opportunity to take whatever courses you want.  Seize it.  There’s always grad school if you decide to do something more career specific.

And as you make your decision about what to major in, remember this:  Happiness permeates everything. As long as you start with doing what you love, everything else will fall in line.

Andrea Forney William ‘02
Loss Control Services, Chubb Insurance