When I first heard about the PRIMA conference, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had expressed to my department chair my interest in managing the risks associate with public entities, but more specifically, the US parks and wildlife, and he referred me to PRIMA’s student scholarship and encouraged me to apply. I honestly did not think once about the term “public entity” and its relation to risk management and insurance while applying nor did I think I would even receive the scholarship in the first place. When I did get accepted, it was like the curtains being pulled back from my eyes. I immediately wanted to know everything that I could about every topic that could possibly be discussed at this conference, and yet, after going to the conference, I realized that no amount of googling articles could have given me the same knowledge that these industry professionals gave me at the conference.
We started off the week with the president’s reception where I and the other 5 PRIMA student scholars got to meet the board of PRIMA, its former presidents and board members, and executives from the sponsoring companies. It was completely terrifying, I was a deer in headlights and had no idea what to do. However, contrary to popular belief, insurance professionals are extremely generous and welcoming. Before I knew it, I was meeting all of these amazing industry professionals, risk managers of cities and states, and even the PRIMA presidents (past and present). Each and every one had their own crazy stories and pieces of advice to give that I will remember forever.
The next day, we had the opportunity to attend the Keynote speaker of the day, Shawn Rhodes, who wanted to impress on everyone the importance of change and being open to it. It was truly fascinating. He has had such a different life experience than I will ever have, and yet, I feel as though his talk could be applicable in almost any other line of work. After his talk, I was able to go interact with and meet dozens of representatives from different companies at the business exchange wherein every company had their own booth to display their products and services to the state and municipal risk managers. It was honestly a great time. I was able to connect with a numerous amount of people, being that I am from Texas yet go to school in Philadelphia, and everyone wanted to bestow on us advice to help further our blossoming careers.
We then had the opportunity to attend two educational speaker sessions. The first, titled “Igniting Next Gen to Risk Management & Insurance Careers”, dove into the fact that the industry is ageing. A lot of the professionals within the insurance industry will retire within the next 5-10 years, and it is the younger generation’s responsibility to fill those vacant roles. The next session we attended was titled “The Evolution of ERM: Balancing Context, Strategy, and Reality”. This discussion helped the attendees to take into account all aspects of their company, organization, or government into their decision making process to create more money efficient and thorough business strategy.
The vast majority of the conference, however, was networking. Simple, basic networking. I spent HOURS talking to people who came from all over the United States. From the Risk manager of Miami to the risk manager of Santa Fe, I met so many people who were eager to impart their experiences in the industry upon me, and I loved it. I was a sponge soaking up as much as I possibly could, and it has made me so excited to continue in this industry. Everyone was there to connect, interact with, and help each other on top of having a good time. I hope to be able to one day come back as a professional myself and impart the same knowledge and experiences on the younger generations, so that they too will one day be as excited as I am about the future of their careers.
*The views and opinions expressed in the Public Risk Management Association (PRIMA) blogs are those of each respective author. The views and opinions do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PRIMA.*
By: Lucas Songy
Risk Management and Insurance Major, Temple University
Lucas is currently a rising senior risk management and insurance major at Temple University in Philadelphia, graduating May 2023. He is also pursuing a minor in both accounting and legal studies. Lucas has worked as a file clerk with the insurance litigation firm of Tollefson Bradley Mitchell & Melendi for three years and is currently interning as an underwriter for Reliance Standard Life Insurance. Lucas is very involved in his student professional organization for his major, Gamma Iota Sigma, having received the Employee Benefits Committee Member of the Year in 2021. He is also a collegiate lightweight rower, and having rowed since freshman year of high school, he is currently pursuing rowing at the international level. Lucas is an avid lover of the outdoors and is hoping to fulfill his bucket list of visiting and hiking in every United States National Park.
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