The AICP’s Student Engagement Committee is unique in the way it is not only delivering on its mission (to develop and maintain relationships with higher education institutions in order to engage students in the pursuit of a career in insurance) in a broader sense by way of connections and resources, but by actually instituting the engagement internally. Joshua Gorota Toru Lopez, a Senior at the University of Southern California, and Julia Berdzik, ARM, AIDA, a recent graduate of St. Joseph’s University, both joined our committee as our first Student Liaisons, a role that allows them to share their unique perspectives as students and help us, as industry professionals, understand how we can better engage with insurance/risk management students.

Joshua Gorota Toru Lopez

Joshua Gorota Toru Lopez

Insurance and Risk Management programs are new in a lot of schools. The program came into being during Joshua’s tenure at USC. As a student worker, he was asked to put out flyers for the brand-new Risk Management minor program. “I didn’t think so much of it,” Joshua explained, “until my coworker, who was a Senior, told me that if he wasn’t set to graduate soon, he would definitely add this minor to his degree.” As a new program, there was not a lot of information available, so Joshua reached out to the faculty advisor who explained what insurance and risk management is. Joshua clarified, “When I learned there was this whole other side of business I did not know about, I knew I wanted to pursue this.” Julia, on the other hand, went into school with her mind set on conquering the Insurance industry. Julia’s mother is an attorney who has worked with Insurance professionals, who recommended a career in insurance, citing the vast opportunities and even suggested St. Joes as a college for its Risk Management educational prowess.

The AICP was able to find these talented students through reaching out and making connections with both of their universities. Rona Finklestein, the Chair of the Student Engagement Committee, and Sam Garro, a member, presented to St. Joseph’s University about the Association, and Julia was excited about the opportunity to join and learn more about Insurance Compliance. Julia described the level of education the AICP has provided, “After joining this organization, I learned a lot more about compliance and gained expertise in an area of insurance that is not as well known. In every part of insurance, you need to know about compliance.” While Joshua is also not looking to pursue a career in compliance, he expressed his hope that future generations at his university have an interest to do so because of the connections being formed today.

An unavoidable topic in the current time is the pandemic. However, while Julia and Joshua did highlight the difficulties Covid has ensued on their education, both logistically and in quality, there is an interesting silver lining that arose from the pandemic as it relates to their careers.

Julia Berdzik

Julia explains, “I didn’t realize we would have all this opportunity to get whatever we wanted. Going into Covid, the thought was everyone would stay at their job because they need stability, but then the great resignation happened. So many people left their jobs in search of a better position. Now there are even more opportunities for us, including higher reach companies. I actually got my dream job!” Joshua definitely agreed, “I have been able to interview for positions I did not think possible before the pandemic.”

We hear a lot in our training sessions, from regulators and industry professionals, as to what they believe the future of insurance will be. When presented with this question, Joshua and Julia, very astutely identified the types of insurance they think will create the biggest impact. Joshua pointed out, “I see the industry growing exponentially, especially with Space travel. Thirty years from now, is going to the Moon going to be commonplace? Who is even held liable at that point?” (Maybe the Alien insurers?) Julia clarified, “There are more and more risks emerging, for instance: Cyber. It was something we did not see as a risk 20 years ago, and now it is one of the fastest growing industries.” Regarding insurtechs, Julia feels, “We should definitely be on the lookout for them, but I don’t think we are there yet. Nonetheless, the traditional companies should absolutely keep up with the growing technologies.”

Both Julia and Joshua have their sights set on becoming brokers, with the hopes of one day becoming household (or officehold, rather) names in the insurance industry. Julia gave further insight, “For the longest time, I thought I wanted to be a specialty underwriter, but over the Summer I was offered an intern position with a large broker. I didn’t realize how many opportunities there were, and the different areas I can dip my toes into.” Joshua is looking to initially start out as an underwriter, “If I were to ever pivot into becoming a broker, by having underwriting experience, I would know exactly what a broker is looking for.” Luckily, as these two future stars in the industry move on from their roles as Student Liaisons, and pass the torch to their classmates, they will remain avid and active members of the AICP and continue to bring their insight and drive to their future roles, as industry members.


Author: Ilana Kauffman is the Director of Compliance for Wysh Life and Health Insurance Company and member of the Student Engagement Committee.

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