Tom Schiffer

Proud of my Wartburg degree

NAME: Tom Schiffer 


HOMETOWN: Mason City 

MAJOR: Actuarial science

INVOLVEMENT ON CAMPUS: Football (4 years), track and field (two years),  Department of Math, Computer Science and Physics student worker

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE WARTBURG: I chose Wartburg because of its tradition of excellence in both academics and athletics. The experience has provided me with many opportunities to succeed. I am proud to be earning a degree from Wartburg. 

WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE CLASS: It would be pretty hard for me to nail down a favorite course. I would say the classes I enjoyed the most and gave me knowledge to apply to a future career were courses I took with Dr. Brian Birgen, namely Actuarial Mathematics, Statistical Applications, Math Probability and Statistics.  Dr. Birgen does a great job of keeping the classes interesting and will always help when needed. These courses also contained material directly related to what I’ve done at internships and will be doing in my career.  I enjoyed seeing the relation between class work and real life applications.

WHAT WAS YOUR MOST DIFFICULT CLASS: I would say my most difficult courses at Wartburg were in my first semester of my freshman year. I struggled with Classical Physics and Macroeconomics, but a big reason why I struggled was due to the learning curve of being a student-athlete at the collegiate level. I had to learn how to manage my time and better study for classes. Prior to that term, I would say I never really had to work that hard at school, and college was a big change for me in that respect.  So because of ‘learning how to college,’ these were classes I found the most difficult.

HOW DID YOU DECIDE TO MAJOR IN ACTUARIAL SCIENCE: I decided on actuarial science as a possible career choice in high school. I was always interested in math but struggled to find a career that suited me. My dad actually suggested actuarial science, and after looking into it, I decided to pursue it because of the ample career opportunities and challenging course work.

WHAT INTERSHIPS HAVE YOU COMPLETED WHILE AT WARTBURG: My first internship was with Sammons Financial Group in West Des Moines working on a product management team for annuities. My role was to help develop tools to reprice products. At this internship my biggest takeaways were about office etiquette and what it takes to be an actuary.  This internship was my first office experience, and I thought the environment fit my personality pretty well. I also learned a lot about technical skills such as coding in VBA or using modeling software such as MG ALFA. My second internship was with Transamerica in Cedar Rapids. At this internship, I worked with pricing retirement products. My projects revolved mostly around coding and developing pricing tools. Here, I was able to show off what I had learned the previous summer and from classes at Wartburg. I enjoyed the freedom my team gave me to solve problems how I thought best.  I felt like I was treated like a full-time team member instead of an intern. These internships helped me decide that I could pursue a career in actuarial science because of my ability to complete the work and the environment that I would be working in.