By Kathleen E. Schor, CPIW, FLMI
While there are some that are born into the insurance industry because of other family members, I think most of you found yourselves taking a position in insurance basically because you needed a J O B.
For me it happened when one of my neighbors got a job as a secretary in an insurance company and told me there was a file clerk job available. I got the position as a file clerk for $45 a week. (This was 1962.) I needed to know the alphabet and numbers. This was easy since I just graduated from high school.
My next job in the insurance industry came in 1967. I worked in the actuarial department of a life insurance company. This time all I needed to know at first was numbers and how to play with them. Again, it was not too hard because I still remembered some from high school. Then I had to learn actual insurance terminology like mortality, morbidity, ADB, annuity, term insurance, whole life, double indemnity, etc. It seemed to take forever to, first learn the terms, and then be comfortable with them.
Then, in 1980, I switched to the IT department of a P&C company and found myself with a completely new set of terms. Again, I had a learning curve to overcome.
What I needed, but did not know at the time, was a Compass Rose to get myself moving in the right direction with the right resources.
What is a compass rose? The Wikipedia definition is a compass rose, sometimes called a wind rose, rose of the winds or compass star, is a figure on a compass, map, nautical chart, or monument used to display the orientation of the cardinal directions and their intermediate points. It is also the term for the graduated markings found on the traditional magnetic compass.
Why it is important? It helps you to orient a map in the proper reading direction for you and it gives relative directions for certain points on the map.
I was not aware there was an insurance association in existence the entire time I was fighting to learn how insurance works until 1983. That is when I heard about and joined IAIP. Were my eyes opened? At last, a place to learn things – not only insurance but also other activities. Everyone I met was welcoming. Everyone wanted to help me succeed. I was able to try things outside the scope of my job and my experience without negatively affecting my career.
Where else could I keep the books for a group? Where else could I learn to arrange programs and guest speakers? Where else could I put together a monthly newsletter? Where else could I learn to be comfortable speaking in front of a group? And last, but by far not least, where else could I find friendships that have lasted decades?
I like to think of IAIP as a Compass Rose for members of the Insurance Industry for multiple reasons. When you are new to the industry, you can talk to people who have been involved with insurance for years. They will take you under their wing and help you. They will toot your horn for you and make sure your company is aware of your worth and potential. When you decide that you are going to make insurance your career, you can watch how others are moving in their careers and decide on a path of your own. There is nothing like seeing what works.
There are so many educational opportunities for personal and professional growth. IAIP has a library of the best resources for you and others. IAIP offers internationally known and acknowledged designations you can put on your business cards. Through the Legacy Foundation, you can apply for scholarships to complete industry or college courses your employer does not provide funding for. Special Interest Communities offer more specific interactions. We have Young and New Professionals, Life and Health, IAIP 101, Retirees, Property and Casualty, and Technology, to name a few. Of all the professional associations available, the cost of an IAIP membership is extremely low.
I have been a member since 1983. I have attended meetings, regional conferences and international conventions since 1983. I have enjoyed the many benefits of this association since 1983. I have been in awe of so many members since 1983. I intend to remain a member as long as I can.
Kathy is a resident of Baltimore County, Maryland. She has been a member of the Insurance Professionals of Baltimore since the early 1980s. Her first position with the organization was Chair of the Legislative Committee. Since that time, she has served on every committee the organization provided. After committees, she served as every officer except Corresponding Secretary. Currently, she is the Secretary and Treasurer. For the Maryland Council, Kathy has served as director four times, Membership Chair, Public Relations Chair and every committee. At the Regional Conference, Kathy has served as the assistant to RVP Janet Fritz as well as on the nominating, registration, minutes approval, and credentials committees. In Grand Rapids, Michigan, her first international convention, Kathy served on the CWC committee. Since then she has served on many committees including protocol, registration or wherever she was needed.