Featured Story: Kaley Kaukinen

Home Youth EmploymentFeatured Story: Kaley Kaukinen

Kaley Kaukinen graduated from computer science at Brock University in April 2021, then leveraged an innovative, 4-month work integrated learning opportunity through Civiconnect to secure full-time employment in her desired field by September. Amid this complicated time for youth launching into their careers, with most of 2020 and 2021 showing significantly lower employment rates compared to pre-pandemic– Kaley’s achievements are cause for celebration.

Kaley’s career journey began in high school when her love for video games led her to sign up for a computer science class. Her interest was further piqued as her brother, an engineer, regularly talked about the need for more women in tech. Kaley also felt well supported by her parents, friends and school community in her pursuit as a young woman blazing the trail in a sector historically occupied by men.

Like many of her peers in university, Kaley was keen to add work experiences to add to her resume. She learned about an employment opportunity at Civiconnect – a non-profit organization focused on preparing youth to be effective members of the workforce and healthy members of the community – that would help her reach that goal. After a mutual friend of Civiconnect’s Youth Skills Studio IT Director, Nour Hage, introduced them, Nour became Kaley’s mentor and encouraged her to explore System Administration. Within that stream of Civiconnect’s programming, Kaley met another mentor, Neha Srivastava, who helped her navigate through the possibilities within System Admin and focus on a path that led her to gain a cloud practitioner certification (AWS), practical project experience with “real clients” and, then, a full-time job at BDO as a Cloud Operations Specialist.

In addition to learning alongside great mentors and gaining some necessary technical skills, Kaley also valued the people (social and emotional) skills that she gleaned through her Civiconnect experience. Kaley had weekly learning sessions to refine and integrate her communication, conflict resolution and leadership skills through the project delivery and teamwork process. Now, collaborating in a large team at BDO, Kaley is especially appreciative that she can draw from this toolkit to help her succeed in her work and life.

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