In 2018, Samantha Dever was one of 75 recipients of a Council Foundation scholarship, awarded to outstanding interns at commercial insurance brokerages. Dever also became the first recipient of the Dave Oberkircher Future Leaders Scholarship. We caught up with Dever on her post-graduation plans and her experience so far in the commercial insurance industry.
Health policy and political science are two majors that intersect in an interesting way. What made you decide to study them in college?
My initial path in college was to pursue a degree in health policy management, with political science as an additional degree added in my sophomore year. At Providence College, health policy is a collaborative degree with introductory courses in American health care, health law, health policy, epidemiology, and health finance. With this foundation, students are able to further tailor their degree with elective courses that focus on one’s personal interests. I was fortunate that in my freshman year, I immediately discovered my primary interest in health insurance and health law policy. Since the United States health insurance structure is determined through our political systems, I thought that adding a degree in political science would only serve to complement my original courses. I found that more often than not, topics analyzed and debated in my political science courses related to topics introduced in my health policy courses. Despite the challenges that came with completing two different degrees, I feel that my education would not have been as diverse, modern or comprehensive without both concentrations.
How has your perception of insurance changed since interning for MMA Northeast last summer?
My perception of insurance has changed dramatically since working at MMA Northeast last summer, with the largest take away being its integral function in our country’s economy and therefore, peoples’ lives. Prior to working at MMA, insurance was presented to me as a complex industry that was necessary for personal financial security, but not something people desired talking about. Despite this initial introduction, I found the concept of insurance, specifically health insurance, incredibly fascinating. It was a subject about which I wanted to learn more. With this in mind, I applied to work in the employee benefits intern sector for MMA Northeast. Through this internship experience, I was shown how insurance plans are tailored to fit employee and employer needs. Additionally, I was able to assist the Northeast branch’s compliance attorney in his auditing role. This work highlighted the interaction of insurance with state and federal systems. Overall, I learned, after macro and micro analysis, that the influence of insurance is wider and deeper than I previously imagined.
Tell us about your post-graduation plans.
While I initially intended to apply to work at MMA Northeast after completing my undergraduate education, the introduction to insurance compliance and government affairs through my internship motivated me to further my education in legal studies. I am pleased to announce that I will be attending UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco in the fall to begin my Juris Doctorate. I intend to apply my legal degree in the insurance and brokerage space upon completion. UC Hastings has a nationally recognized health law concentration, which I intend to pursue.
What advice would you give to college students interested in commercial insurance brokerage (or those who don’t yet know about it as a career option!)?
My first piece of advice to any college student would be to educate yourself on the insurance brokerage industry! As mentioned previously and demonstrated in my future career goals, I was very fortunate to have had this internship, as it has helped to shape my interests. However, prior to actual exposure to the industry, I was incredibly ill informed as to its function. While this may be true for other industries, I believe that the insurance brokerage industry is extremely underutilized by college students. I was very lucky to work with seven other students with varying degrees and internships throughout the company. I believe our diversity as a group speaks to the variety of paths one can take when working in this field. For students who are already interested, my advice would be to take advantage of the extracurricular opportunities offered by the company. Part of MMA’s largest impact on me was through interaction with my peers, advisors and the MMA Northeast senior leadership team. It was through these encounters that I was given opportunities to try new tasks, challenge myself professionally, network and even apply to scholarships like the Dave Oberkircher Future Leaders Scholarship. Success and knowledge comes from pushing yourself outside of the immediate tasks and taking risks. I am incredibly grateful for applying this philosophy to my internship at MMA, as it has led me to greater accomplishments.
What does your Council Foundation scholarship mean to you?
The Dave Oberkircher Future Leaders Scholarship has been incredibly valuable to me personally, professionally and financially. On a personal level, the scholarship is a validation of hard work and dedication. Not only was the scholarship application process a feat in and of itself, but to even be eligible to apply, one must intern within the insurance brokerage industry. This award is a culmination of my entire undergraduate experience. All the involvement in school organizations, coursework, graduating Magna Cum Laude, and professional experience has resulted in being honored with this award. Professionally, the scholarship has been extremely fruitful, as it has given me the opportunity to speak at a conference of insurance professionals and to experience business travel. Lastly, the scholarship has positively impacted both my family and me. The cost of college is incredibly burdensome. The financial assistance from the scholarship contributed to my ability to graduate from Providence College. I will be forever filled with gratitude for an award that has been so generous.