Finding the right place to apply your skills and education can be tough.
Should you pursue the typical career choice for someone with your degree? Or should you go off the beaten path and try something different?
Like many young university graduates, Karen Jarvis-Adams once faced a similar crossroad. With an honours degree in Public Policy and Political Science from York University, Karen considered going into Law and even Public Planning before stumbling upon the Insurance industry.
“It wasn’t something on my radar, but I found that I actually really liked it,” says Karen.
We caught up with Karen to learn more about her egg-citing career in Insurance. She shared some valuable insights into her career as a Risk Management Specialist. Read on to see what she had to say!
Finding a place in insurance
Karen didn’t know much about Insurance when she first started her career. However, she learned quickly that the field had a lot to offer.
“Once I was in the industry, I realized that there was a lot that I could do here to explore my interests like law and contracts, working with individuals, and fostering the growth of a company,” says Karen.
Karen started her Insurance career in Sales, but due to the fluid nature of the industry, she has been able to experience a variety of roles in the field, from Underwriting to her current position in Risk Management.
Insurance employers invest a lot of resources in their employees’ growth and development and Karen’s career is a prime example of this fact. Through her current employer, she has been able to obtain her Canadian Risk Management (CRM) designation. She is now pursuing her Chartered Insurance Professional (CIP) certification.
“I’ve been fortunate to work with really good individuals who understand what it means to develop their staff,” says Karen. “I’m free to explore any education and development that I see fit that is in the realm of my position and career advancement.”
A typical day
If you think Insurance is boring, think again! According to Karen, a day in the life of a Risk Management Specialist is often a “mixed bag” of projects and tasks.
“My typical day is actually one where I have to juggle a few projects at a time,” says Karen. “Currently, I’m working on four projects, ranging from rolling out new systems, rolling out new programs around Ontario auto reform, and new products around telematics in Ontario and Alberta.”
In addition, Karen’s role involves a lot of employee development. In this area, she is responsible for both developing training materials and teaching them to her fellow colleagues. It can be challenging to collaborate with so many different departments and stakeholders on a daily basis, but the support of her superiors helps keep Karen on track.
“You have to lean on the knowledge of other experts,” says Karen. “You have to know how to network and come out of your shell and really hone in on your people skills.”
In addition, while her work certainly keeps her busy, being able to see the direct impact of her work has made her career journey incredibly worthwhile.
“I’m actually where I set out to be years ago when I started,” says Karen. “I think that’s the highlight for me, I sought a path and I’m actually where I wanted to be.”
Advice and insights
The Insurance industry is constantly growing and evolving but one key fact remains the same: this opportunity-packed field is perfect for new grads.
There are a vast array of positions and careers to pursue within this industry and a number of well-established companies. In addition, whether you’re a Business grad or have a Political Science degree like Karen, there is certainly a place for you in Insurance.
“It’s an industry that you can apply so many skillsets and learnings to a career path,” says Karen.
Another great benefit? Industry stability. Even during times of economic uncertainty, Insurance is something that everyone needs, which means that there are always a wide variety of positions to explore.
“I’ve never been unemployed. There’s always been something I can pursue,” says Karen about her Insurance career.
If you’re a student and new grad looking to hatch a career Insurance, Karen suggests you pursue your designations early and readily to set yourself apart from other candidates. She says it’s something that all companies look for, and that it’ll put you further ahead at a faster pace.
For those entry-level employees looking to get ahead, Karen says it’s important to be confident and keep abreast of what’s happening in the industry. Insurance is a fast-paced field, so new grads need to learn as much as possible, put themselves out there, and volunteer for projects as soon as they can if they want to succeed.
As for Karen, her career is not slowing down anytime soon. She says she might consider a directorship position in the future, as well as pursue other career development opportunities. Either way, she is happy with her place in the Insurance industry and the incredible amount of knowledge she’s gained thus far.
“I don’t see myself leaving,” says Karen. “It’s not just a job, it’s a career.”