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Giving graduates a jumpstart on new careers

The Queen’s Career Apprenticeship: Kingston program, a one-year, salary paid, career apprenticeship helps new graduates jumpstart their careers while helping small business attract and retain highly skilled talent in Kingston.

In 2018 the Faculty of Arts and Science partnered with Kingston Economic Development in 2018 to create QCA:K, a program supported by Ottawa-based business leader and philanthropist Alan Rottenberg. 

Applications are being accepted for the upcoming year. 

Graduates apply to local companies; companies receive four months of funding towards salaries and successful applicants have a guaranteed full-time job for one year.

“‘Where/how do I get experience if no one is willing to hire me?’ is an all too familiar question,” says Chandra Erickson, Experiential Learning Coordinator, Faculty of Arts and Science. “Most entry-level positions ask for experience creating a common hurdle for new graduates during their initial job search. QCA:K bridges this gap by connecting new graduates with local employers, providing meaningful first work experience(s) and keeping our graduates in Kingston.”

The project was piloted in 2018-19 with eight jobs created in Kingston. The pilot year proved successful, with seven of eight positions turning into permanent employment – three of whom remain with the original employer. Since the initial pilot, student applications have grown from 28 to 173 and the number of business partners from 15 to 25, with the number of positions posted doubling from 18 to 32.

“Our Strategic Plan identifies experiential learning as an important part of the student experience,” says Jill Atkinson, Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning). “We are committed to increasing access to both work-integrated and community service learning. The QCA:K program is a valuable addition to the Faculty of Arts and Science’s work-integrated opportunities because it extends beyond university providing a bridge to the workforce.”

Apprenticeship opportunities for 2021 so far include:

  • Rogers & Trainors Commercial Realty Inc. Brokerage - Executive Assistant

  • Maureen McBratney, Sun Life Financial - Administrative Assistant

  • Sherlock’s Escapes – 1) Operations Manager and 2) Digital Media Coordinator

  • Little Giant’s Rockin’ Dog Town – Manager of Operations and Social Media

  • Cher-Mère - Digital Media Coordinator

  • MaxSold – Content Writer

  • Kinarm – Knowledge Translation Apprentice

“When I signed up for this program, I had no idea it was going to be so life-changing,” says Nour Mazloum (ArtSci’19), Communication and Events Officer at Kingston Economic Development Corporation. “I have loved every minute since I started my career with Kingston Economic Development. All the social events, the connections, the support from my colleagues and mentors and just the overall memories that have shaped me to be the woman I am today. I will be forever grateful for starting my career through this program.”

To hear another testimonial from 2019 QCA:K apprentice Justin Karch watch the YouTube video.

Erickson adds the goals for the QCA:K program include being top of mind for businesses in Kingston so when they are looking to recruit recent graduates, they think of QCA:K and that when graduating students think about starting their careers, they consider staying in Kingston.

The Government and Institutional Relations team at Queen’s shared information on the program with MPP Ian Arthur, who, in early March rose in the Legislature with a Member’s Statement to showcase the QCA:K and the collaboration between Queen’s Faculty of Arts and Science and Kingston Economic Development.

To learn more about the program, see the 2021 job postings, and hear testimonials from QCA:K graduates visit the website.