Karen Wilson

Karen Wilson
Grad Year: 
Planning Officer
Canada Revenue Agency

*update*: Karen Wilson currently works as a Planning Officer with the Canada Revenue Agency.

Karen Wilson works as the Administrative Coordinator for the Marketing Services Team at Canada Investment and Savings.

“The organization is the Special Operating Agency of the Government of Canada’s Department of Finance. We work in partnership with the Financial Sector Policy Branch of the Department and the Bank of Canada to manage the Retail Debt Program. The Government of Canada uses the Retail Debt Program to raise funds from, and provide secure investments to, individual investors in Canada. The program includes two non-marketable instruments, Canada Savings Bonds and Canada Premium Bonds, which are sold over-the-counter through financial institutions, through payroll deduction and direct via telephone and the Internet,” says Karen, who earned a Marketing Management Certificate from Ryerson University in 2004.

“I manage the marketing team's overall administration, facilitating projects with our advertising agency, PR firm and research firm — all within the government framework and constant liaising with the Finance Minister's Office. It is extremely rewarding to be a public servant for Canada. The greatest challenge is to stay focused amid political instability, for example, at election time.”

Karen says to succeed in her position, she needs to adapt to the mindset that she is not just a government worker — she is the face of the government of Canada.

“Taking pride in whatever position you hold is vital. There are considerable advancement opportunities in the government, once you have successfully reached a bilingual language status and as long as you continue to complete training and courses within and outside government. It is most advantageous to remain optimistic, approachable and professional as each government is in pursuit of ‘a better Canada.’ Participation at key meetings and networking are key to a successful career,” says Karen.

“I also currently volunteer as Liaison Officer when there are international summits held in Canada. At the Western Hemispheric Summit of Finance Ministers, I was the Liaison Officer to the delegation from Honduras. I qualified because I speak English, French and Spanish. Volunteering at these types of events are fun and exciting. My Erindale College experience, especially my classes with Professor Raby in Latin Studies was most valuable in understanding life in Mexico and in my duties as Liaison Officer.”

Karen previously worked as a Cashier for Loblaws Supermarkets and an Athletic Coordinator at Hotel Decameron in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. “In my graduating year, I was female athlete of the year. I thought I was going to be an RCMP officer — I was in shape and ready to head to Regina — until I realized that it just wasn't in me. Since I loved sports and had no other major plans I left for Mexico to run the athletic program at a resort. Alone and a bit nervous, I just dove in. When I returned to Canada, third language in hand and staring at OSAP payments, I knew I had to start on my career. I knew that I would have a few jobs before landing ‘the career job,’” says Karen.

“Overall, sports at U of T taught me that sweating it out was painful but worth it. Volunteering at the Erindale Day Care Centre taught me that you are never too old or too busy to continue learning. You need to be involved in your university through sports, volunteering and participating in school politics — it all adds up to experience. It's that experience that opens so many doors.”

Karen says it is crucial to make sure your resume is grammatically correct and typo-free.

“Never screen yourself out of any opportunity. Sell yourself by buying that perfect interview suit and reading the newspaper daily. Don't be afraid to ask questions — it shows you are interested and keen. You need to be able to laugh at yourself and not get too stressed if you blow an interview,” she says.

“Don’t fall into tunnel vision. What I mean is don’t think that you need to pursue a career with this formula: B Com equals accountant or Medical School equals doctor. You need to make your degree work for you. Your Bachelor of Arts is valuable — don’t listen to people who say it’s worthless. It isn't. Make it work for you. When employers see that you have a BA in anything, it means you studied, you debated theory, you wrote essays. For three to five years you laboured to get that degree by simply working hard and proving to your professors that you can think critically, prepare your thoughts and portray your vision in group projects. These are critical success factors in any career.”