In his first year as an undergraduate at Queen’s, Alec Glover discovered an environment that allowed him to be a student, run a business, and plant the seeds to start new ventures after graduation.

“When I started at Queen’s, I thought I'd be a software engineer,” says Glover (Sc’20, Electrical and Computer Engineering). “I was right into the web development world from first year. I was building up this business where I was working for myself and hiring people. I had a full-time employee, a whole bunch of contractors, and I was trying to just bring in as much software to develop as possible, and then I was also the lead engineer, the lead designer, the lead salesperson. It was a lot of work.”

The idea to build a business was his own, but the initial spark was entirely a coincidence. By the end of his first year at Queen’s, he was looking for a job and in conversation with his interviewer he learned the interviewer’s company needed a redesigned website.

“I sat down with a buddy for a weekend and we just re-made this guy's entire website,” he says. “He showed me the quotes he’d received from other people. I’d just done it for free as a favour, but it was like a $3,000, $4,000 website that I’d completed in two days. And I thought, ‘Okay, there’s something here.’ That kind of turned me on to it.”

Glover credits the student supports from Indigenous Futures in Engineering (then known as AAE: Aboriginal Access to Engineering) with helping keep him on top of his studies during that time.

“The support system there was really, really good,” he says. “I always had access to tutors to help me with courses, and…” After a short pause, he adds “a symptom of running this business was that my time was completely messed up. At least for one semester, I was working basically 40 hours a week, and through AAE I was able to get access to tutors and resources to help me learn this stuff at what felt like a fire-hose pace.”

Today, at the two-year mark as a Queen’s Engineering alumnus, Glover is a solutions consultant at Dell. “The job is about coming up with solutions to client’s problems and solving them from a technical perspective. My involvement stops after we've designed everything, and I've put forth our best solution to their issues. Then the sales team assesses the value and billing.”

The COVID pandemic sidelined his original plan to move to the U.S. but, working remotely from his home in Toronto, he’s taken the opportunity to experience the world during the downtime, when he’s off the clock, beyond the eight-hour workday. “For a month in January, I was in Nicaragua with my little brother, and we built a bridge between two communities,” he says. “And I did a whole trip through Europe while working remote.”

“If I was gonna highlight anything to people thinking about getting into tech, it would be that the flexibility that comes with a decent paying remote job that only expects eight hours from you is pretty awesome.”

Ever the multitasker, Glover is also independently developing an Indigenous reserve-based co-working space on the Chippewas of Rama First Nation community, north of Toronto. “I still intend to work at Dell and do my tech job, but I'm going to open up a co-working space in Rama for Indigenous people who want to take a remote job to a reserve for the tax benefits.” Indigenous people whose work is physically based on an Indigenous reserve in Canada are eligible for an income tax exemption. He sees it as an opportunity to enhance the economy of the community, and inspire young people to careers that have not traditionally existed in Indigenous communities.

“Let's say it's lawyers or accountants or software engineers, whatever,” he says. “It's not the typical kind of person that you find at a reserve, and I think it opens up a lot of opportunity to bring young kids in that are thinking of getting into STEM or other professional fields and say, do you want to sit beside a software engineer for a day and see what that's like? and talk to them about the experience. I think it's extra powerful too, because it's Indigenous people supporting Indigenous people. There's a bit of a disconnect when it comes to people that aren't really part of a community coming in and saying, ‘hey, you guys should also get STEM jobs,’ in that it doesn't really resonate.

“The five-year plan is to remain focused on making this co-working space work for myself and bringing other people in as well and bringing the right kind of people in so it's actually beneficial, and really seeing how far I can get in those five years,” he says. “I think the trajectory that it's on now, I can be in a very successful position, if I just remain focused and don't let anything distract me. I have that sort of personality trait that I keep getting pulled in a million different directions. My current goal is to focus on the two biggest opportunities here.”