- Topic 3 – What has most surprised you about your internship?
Speaking of the most surprising experiences that I had in my internship, it was actually my first project.
Brandon, an FSA (Fellow of Society of Actuaries) in our team, assigned a project regarding using excel.
He showed me the file that he had been working on, and I found it was a great amount of data that I need to clean up. He showed me that I need to copy and special paste distribution tables from other 4 excel documents, and made sure everything can to converted perfectly, so that he can run my work in the prophet (a software that we use for pricing). It took him a while to make up an example for me, and I found he used many excel shortcuts magically. To become more efficient, by my request, he taught me how to use some common shortcuts right away. By using these shortcuts, I found I was on the right track. The project was not difficult, but it required a tons of time. He said that I don’t need to hurry, and just give him feedback by 2 weeks.
Then I started working on that, and there were so many repetitive moves. After spending 1 hour doing the work, I found I only did 5 percent of the work. I always believed that there should exist a better way to improve the efficiency. I downloaded a cheatsheet of Excel 2010 and printed that out.(some of my friends request that from me as well) I marked the functions that I didn’t know and cross out the ones I knew. Then I started using some of the shortcuts and try to think about what are some shortcuts that I can use to improve the process.
By thinking and doing, on the next day, I realized that there is a repetitive process that can be fully replaced by using the keyboard. Afterwards, I started developing and writing down the procedure of my process and try to avoid using mouse. They I started practicing and thinking about how to improve continuously. Gradually, I found my work efficiency is getting faster and faster and I finally finished in two days, with triple check.
Brandon was impressed with my work, and I found it was a rewarding experience. One lesson I learned was that we should always try to think outside the box and seek smarter ways to solve problems if possible, like shortcuts. Even if it takes a little more effort and time when I started, it definitely improved my efficiency in the long run. My manager said that there are many people who were told the work and finish them, without thinking about using a more effective and efficient approach. They spent a huge amount of time on some repetitive work.
I am glad that staying creative and think before actions are something that surprised me of its effect.