(Original post by Jelkin)
I think the thing to bear in mind is that you are never going to start any job thinking, "YES, this is DEFINITELY what I want to do." And to some extent you have to accept that and try stuff out - that's the only way you'll find out what you enjoy!
I do know what you mean re: people thinking you're smart because you like maths. I did English at uni and people's attitude was often pretty much, "cool, I can read myself." Whereas if you're doing something mathsy then people are instantly impressed without knowing anything else! Hah. Of course, you'd be working alongside some real smarty pants, but I'm afraid that's sort of unavoidable in many jobs.
So yeah, it's hard to say - I suppose that under an extreme generalisation you could say that GI is more likely to have super smart people who aren't quite as sociable whereas pensions consultancy will have actuaries who are better with people due to the consultancy side of things and less technically-minded. That being said, I can think of four people at my firm off the top of my head who have PhDs (although no one uses their titles or the letters after their name, so you don't often know), and some people are just super-intelligent regardless of qualification.
Thing is, I suppose in my kind of work you could say that it's less important to be super good at all that stuff - so long as you can do it to the right standard and get the right numbers, it's more important to be good at consulting (at least further down the line). Yet it will also be beneficial to be able to come up with new ways of doing things and new services you can offer to clients to help them save money. I don't know how GI is with that kind of thing although I suspect your idea of their everyday conversation is a little further than it goes!
I think you'll find the exams pretty interesting, like you say, but the level of maths involved in the job will probably be nothing compared to the kinds of things you'd do at high degree level. I do find it really interesting and challenging though, and this will sound strange but I really like the people in actuarial work, both at my firm and actuarial social events. Not sure why but I suspect it's because they're often a bit nerdy but in a really comfortable sociable kind of way.
Yeah, I suspect you've missed some of the internship deadlines (although graduate deadlines will start opening again in a few months!). BUT you could do what JohnnySPal did and go through recruitment agencies; IIRC he said that Reed Actuarial and Emerald are pretty good. If you look up The Actuary (the profession's journal) online, there are a ton of recruitment agencies advertised at the back.
So yeah. I've tried to give a balanced view of what it's like. What is important to you in a job? Pay? Hours? Working with/without people?
By the way, thanks for the compliment! V flattered