Karen Viloria

Name: 
Karen Viloria
Grad Year: 
2004
Degree: 
BA
Program: 
Industrial Relations
Philosophy
Title: 
Human Resources Officer
Industry: 
Business, Finance & Administration
Organization: 
Dufferin Peel School Board

Q: Briefly describe your current position and responsibilities, including challenges/rewards. How did you go about your job search upon graduating -- what strategies were most successful and why do you think you were hired?

In my role as and HR Officer, I manage the recruitment activities for all permanent and temporary administrative and mid-management staff for various employee groups in accordance with the terms of their collective agreements or working conditions. I administer the terms and conditions of these agreements and ensure fairness and consistency of recruitment procedures. Other responsibilities also include coordinating training for employees on procedures and processes, providing direction in staffing recruitment for Managers, coaching and counselling individuals, auditing the salary administration program for accuracy and controlling staffing ratios and allocations. I also supervise the duties of the Support Services Personnel Assistants.

Some of the most rewarding aspects of the job are in recruitment and staffing. There is real gratification when the right person is found to fill a position; the hiring manager is happy (and relieved) that someone competent is hired for the job, and the selected candidate is happy because they are employed and in a position where they can contribute their skills to the organization.

I also feel very fortunate that I work for a school board. There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not thankful that I get to work in an organization that provides a fundamentally important service to the community.

Many of the challenges of this position such as time pressure and dealing with complex employee matters are to be expected in the role. But by keeping the best interest of the organizational objective in mind and a having strong understanding of contractual agreements and legislation clear, most all Human Resources matters can be worked through. It is just a matter of gaining experience and comfort administering policy and dealing with people and complex matters.

I started my job search well before graduating. I was fortunate to have a good idea of what I wanted to do. I created a clear goal for myself: I wanted to work in the field of Human Resources in an organization where I would be forwarding the development of people careers preferably in an educational environment.

In preparation for my career goal, I worked at the Career Centre at UTM. I got to research in Human Resources occupations as part of the job. (ie. Creating tip sheets and coordinating the HR Panel.) I also used the Career Centre database of jobs to find a part time job as an HR Assistant at Kraft Canada. There, I assisted the department with clerical work and gained experience in a unionized plant environment. (ie. Preparing lay-off, call-back notices, booking tests, booking interviews). I took initiative whenever I could to organize their filing system and I also created an attendance database for them and migrated paper attendance sheets into an automated system to keep track of employee absences. All the experience served as foundation for HR positions in the future. The commendations I received from my work helped with references for future positions that I applied to.

I networked with everyone I knew (relatives, friends, co-workers) and eventually landed an interview with the Dufferin Peel school board through a friend of a relative who was manager of the HR department at the time.

The strategies I found most useful was gaining experience in the field ahead of time, journaling about it in my daytimer (for use in future interviews) and always networking.

Q: List the key positions you have held since graduation, and any post-graduate degrees/diplomas you earned after graduation. If applicable, list any other ways you are involved in your profession or in your community (member of a professional association, involved as a leadership volunteer, etc).

  • HRIS Assistant
  • Teacher Personnel
  • Recruitment Officer
  • Support Services Officer
  • Professional Membership: HRPAO

Q: What personal characteristics/skills are most important for success in your job/field?

  • Communication
  • Compassion
  • Initiative
  • Humour
  • Patience

Q: During your university career did any key experiences assist you in making your career choices? If yes, how so? (Internships? Extern Program? Volunteering? Student clubs? Summer job? Mentorship?)

Aside from my experience in the UTM Career Centre and my part time job in HR, I also looked for informal mentors. I spoke to my professors as well as professionals that I met in the HR field at work. I still call them to bounce ideas of them.

Early in my university career when I was exploring career options, I used the career centre to find a volunteer position and volunteered at Occupational Therapy clinic to find out if I really wanted to work as an Occupational Therapist. It was a fun job but the volunteer experience helped me figure out I was better in a business environment.

Q: What have been the keys to your success? What advice would you give to students who wish to pursue a similar career path? If you had the chance to plan your studies and your career path again, what would you do differently (if anything)?

My success has been in large part because I stayed positive. It has made the work and the journey more enjoyable.

Don't get discouraged if things aren't happening as fast as you would like it to or, if you make mistakes. Keep the big picture in mind and write down your goals. Know that it will be hard at times and accept it but when you're done learning from the experience - move on.

I wouldn't change a thing.