Insurance Job Helps Trent Women’s Studies Grad Gain Skills And Experience


When Madeleine Dinnissen graduated from Trent University with a double major in French and Women’s Studies, she originally had ambitions of pursuing further studies to become a translator.

She did not expect to instead find herself happily employed as a full-time Specialty Claims Assistant with a large insurance company in downtown Toronto.

When asked how she ended up in this role, her answer was simple: “I needed to pay the bills,” she says. “I didn’t apply with the mindset of following my educational path at all. I wanted to gain a decent wage, try something new and further develop my skills.”

Because this was an entry level position, the requirements weren’t too extreme, making the job fairly accessible to Madeleine’s background.

So, what exactly does a Specialty Claims Assistant do?

“I get in at 8:45 a.m. and immediately sign in to my computer, since this is mine and everyone else’s portal to productivity,” Madeleine says. From there, she makes a mental list of all tasks that need to be accomplished and tackles them in order of priority. Acting as the assistant to anything having to do with specialty claims (as her title says), her main responsibility is to receive and set up all notices of circumstance.

She also acts as the liaison between the Examiners and their clients. “Every day is different, but I mostly spend my day helping the Examiners as much as I can in order to make their jobs a bit easier since insurance is (surprisingly) fast-paced and stressful!” Madeleine says. “By the time 4:30 rolls around, I genuinely don’t know where the day has gone.”

Listening to her outline a typical day in the life in her position was overwhelming as the majority of the lingo she used I didn’t know. Insurance talk – which goes to show how much she has managed to learn already in the short time that she’s been there.

Sidenote: For those of you who also struggle with the insurance talk, Examiners are insurance professionals who handle claim files.

Although there can be a stigma around insurance that it is a somewhat “dry” job, Madeleine says that is definitely not the case with the company she works for. “My office is extremely friendly,” she explains. “Everyone works hard but you can always approach people.”

Having no background in the insurance sector did present some initial challenges to Madeleine, as she had to learn everything from scratch. “My knowledge about insurance was literally zero,” she says. Due to the nature of her work, however, she had no choice but to pick things up quickly and now finds herself with many valuable skills under her belt. “Mainly what I’m taking away from this job are organizational skills, the ability to prioritize, work under pressure, meet deadlines and find information,” she says.

Although initially seen as a job only to pay the bills, her insurance position has definitely modified Madeleine’s long term goals. Law school is something she’s now considering, but she isn’t settling on anything yet. She discovered early on that paths can change and open you up to a whole slew of options you didn’t even know existed.

Her advice to unsure new grads of the future? “Be open minded. Opportunities may come along that you weren’t expecting and there’s always something to be learned from them.”

Photo credit: nerdcoregirl