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Keeping an Open Mind

Photo of Jennifer Dillon

Jennifer Dillon
COMPANY: Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
POSITION: Information Management Advisor
DEGREE: Bachelor of Environmental Studies

In 2007, Jennifer Dillon graduated from York University with her bachelorís of environmental studies. Realizing the importance of project management in the environmental field, she went on to complete her certificate in project management at Ryerson University in June 2009.

Jennifer was accepted into the two-year paid Ontario Internship Program. In her first year, she worked in the Ministry of Environment in Operations, and in her second year she is working with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

jp: Where did you go to School? What program did you attend?
JD:York University Ė Bachelor of Environmental Studies.

jp: Tell us a bit about your responsibilities.
JD: I am thankful for having developed my project management skills. I am responsible for planning and implementing online land use planning applications as well as an e-library for land use planning resources. My work involves consulting and collaborating with other departments and ministries.

jp: What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
JD: For almost every project the challenge is always not enough money and not enough time and both those constraints present ongoing challenges in my current work.

jp: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
JD: Partnership building: Iím enjoying working with staff across my ministry and from other ministries to develop solutions that will benefit all stakeholders.

jp: What accommodations do you use to help you succeed on the job?
JD: I utilize JAWS which is a screen reading software and I also use a refreshable Braille display.

jp: Tell us about the history of your disability and how it has affected your life.
JD: I was born with a vision impairment caused by macular dystrophy. As a child I could read large print with magnification, identify colours, draw pictures and ride my bike independently. Through my adolescence I developed a secondary eye condition, retinitis pigmentosa. This secondary condition caused the loss of my remaining vision. The tiny bit of light perception I have left allows me only to distinguish between cloudy and sunny days. I have gone through many transitions. I am happy with who I am, including my identity as a woman who is blind. I meet many people on the TTC who feel sorry for me, but the ironic thing is that Iím happier with my life and more well adjusted than most people I meet.

jp: Is there one accomplishment you are most proud of to date?
JD: I am very proud that I always managed to have a paying job while in school. At some points I was working two jobs while juggling my classes but I always had straight As and my managers were pleased with my work.

jp: What advice do you have for students looking to land their first job?
JD: Keep an open mind, youíll learn a lot from work experience whether it is in your field of interest or not. The more experience you gain, the more transferable skills youíll develop which makes you a more attractive candidate for prospective employers.