Keeping an Open Mind
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 bachelor’s 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 – 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: I’m 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 I’m 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, you’ll 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 you’ll develop
which makes you a more attractive candidate for prospective