Kingston aims to keep graduating Queen’s students

City consultations explore employment opportunities for grads

Ioana Tabra (left) and Yangchen Zhang (right).
Credit: 
Supplied by Tabra and Zhang

The City of Kingston is asking Queen’s commerce students how to keep graduates in the city.

A study spearheaded by two fourth-year commerce students seeks to understand students’ perspectives on employment opportunities in Kingston.

Ioana Tabra and Yangchen Zhang, both Comm ’19, are members of Queen’s Business Consulting group (QBC), which provides a range of cost-effective consulting services to businesses, non-profits, and public organizations, according to its website.

QBC was commissioned by the Kingston Economic Development Corporation to support their objective of attracting and retaining qualified individuals in the city. QBC is managed by undergraduate students and is overseen by the Smith School of Business faculty.

The survey, which can be found online, will form the basis of a marketing plan the students will present to the development corporation, which is the City’s sales and marketing arm, governed by members of the business community and municipal council.

In an email to The Journal, Tabra and Zhang said they believe students coming from larger cities tend to prefer working in similarly busy environments. In fact, 95 per cent of Queen’s student population originally hails from outside Kingston.

They also note that there’s an “existing mindset” around what jobs and firms are available in Kingston, which is often pre-established in students’ minds before they arrive on campus. “Students prioritize larger "big name" employers and firms as opposed to [small and medium sized enterprises],” they said.

Tabra and Zhang have been working on this project since the start of the current academic term, developing it further from a previous group assignment this past fall.

“Compared to regular classes, this is really a high-impact hands-on program that goes beyond the confines of a traditional lecture setting, and into the ‘real world’ with its experiential nature,” they wrote. “It’s been very enriching so far.”

The QBC program appealed to their desire to “make an impact and take ownership.”

To them, the key issue addressed by their project is Kingston’s long-term economic sustainability. The students hope the project will play a role in bridging the University-City gap.

“Kingston is great for those who love the outdoors,” they told The Journal. “Other than housing lucrative industry sectors in agribusiness, sustainable and emerging technology, ICT, and defence as well as tourism and hospitality, Kingston is the right size for students to gain experience in their early years, is attractive for entrepreneurs, and [is] well positioned for those starting a family.”

As for why they chose Queen’s for their undergrads, Tabra and Zhang cite the strength of the Commerce program and the ease of having everything within walking distance—not to mention Kingston’s renowned restaurants and waterfront.

They believe their project has the potential to align the needs of students with the needs of the city.

“Aside from providing students with professional opportunities, this study and plan will help build a more vibrant community and set Kingston's industries up to meet the needs of the 21st century,” they wrote.

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