One of the things I love about the insurance industry is the unique mix of people you meet. Unlike other professions, insurance is a specialty that hasn’t traditionally been a college major like pre-med or pre-law – although that’s changing. After all, how many eight year olds dream of being insurance agents when they grow up? Still, after listening to many people talk about their professional journeys, there are certain common factors. (And they say some wonderful things about our industry!)
Historically, a lot of insurance agencies were family businesses, passed down from generation to generation. While you still meet the occasional agent with that experience, it’s not as common anymore. That doesn’t mean that family isn’t an important motivator for joining our industry, though.
Many of the people I meet talk about how insurance allows them to provide (well) for their families and have a greater degree of control over when and where they work. Even among the most driven entrepreneurs, there’s a striving for balance and a commitment to paying forward the opportunities they’ve received.
Speaking of entrepreneurship, that’s another common trait. Lots of insurance professionals are the children of entrepreneurs. They’ve seen firsthand the challenges small business owners face, and they want to help others protect and grow their legacies.
How many times have you heard a colleague say, “I stumbled into a career in insurance”? They begin with a summer job as a receptionist or file clerk during high school or college or take an internship after college. It’s a way to earn a little spending money or get some real-world experience.
But the insurance industry, more than any other I’ve worked in, makes these entry-level jobs stepping stones to long-term careers. Even after the Great Recession, when many insurance companies and larger agencies scaled back their formal training programs, insurance professionals show a willingness to welcome and nurture newcomers. So many people I meet still speak movingly of the mentors who shaped their careers, even after twenty or thirty years in our industry.
Insurance also intertwines with so many other specialties. There are lots of people who transition to insurance from banking, marketing, law and medicine after working on joint ventures. They know a good thing when they see it! And now we’re seeing an influx of professionals from the IT and data science fields, bringing new perspectives on the status quo.
A Heart for Service
Another connection that touches my heart is the number of people who come into the insurance industry after serving in our nation’s military. As an Army brat, I know firsthand the sacrifices made by those who put themselves in harm’s way to defend our nation. Military veterans often look for new opportunities that offer the same sense of comradery and sense of being part of something greater than one’s self. They find that in the insurance industry.
This commitment to public service shows up in other ways, too. Many of the professionals I’ve met were actively involved in scouting throughout their youth. Insurance seems to attract a lot of former teachers as well. If you have a heart for service, insurance has a role for you.
The earliest roots of the insurance industry were in benevolent or friendly societies – groups of neighbors coming together to help one another in times of trouble. That neighbors-helping-neighbors attitude continued, even after insurance became big business, through the neighborhood insurance agent. Now, we look forward to a new, technology-inspired era in insurance. There are opportunities never before imagined, available on a global scale. Still, the human connection remains essential. Based on the people I’m meeting (and to steal a tagline), we’re in good hands.
Want to hear about some fascinating career journeys? Check out the Spot On Insurance podcast!