MARS Apprentice prepares students for the future workplace

February 24, 2021 |
Contributed by Rebecca Hull, Marketing and Communications Strategist

MARS Apprentice

The DeGroote School of Business has a reputation for embracing bold, interdisciplinary thinking that drives innovation. All programs and activities aim to build leaders within and outside the university.

MARS Apprentice Opportunity

MARS Apprentice is an intensive experiential learning case-competition program for upper-year students who want to learn how some of the biggest businesses work. MARS is an accelerator that takes you beyond your degree and into the real world.

For eight weeks, 12 students work together in two teams to solve numerous real-world case challenges relevant to innovative industry leaders. Students solve a new case challenge each week, gain input from industry professionals, and receive feedback from learning partners, including Microsoft, PepsiCo, Canadian Tire Bank, and TELUS. MARS Apprentice is an active process that engages the learner to apply theory and academic content to real-world experiences.

MARS Apprentice will accept applications between March 9 and March 19, 2021. The applications will be posted here:

MARS is also hosting a series of Master Classes with the learning partners throughout March. Students’ learning can expand beyond the classroom while learning more about MARS. These Master Classes are open to all students across any faculty at McMaster.

Hosted by Canadian Tire Bank, the first Master Class on customer segmentation is scheduled for March 2 from 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Why Apply?

In its 17th season, MARS Apprentice leaders Jacob Rashid and Ani Velinova tell us about this opportunity.

Jacob Rashid

Jacob Rashid

Why should an upper-year student participate in MARS Apprentice?

MARS Apprentice is a unique leadership development experience that allows students to network with and receive personalized support from the 200+ alumni of the program, who represent various roles in various industries. Students have opportunities to interview with learning partners, who often hire for internship and new grad positions.

Name three words to describe the MARS Apprentice experience.

Eye-opening, transformative, and humbling.

How does MARS Apprentice act as the bridge between education and the real world?

In the classroom, students are given rubrics with precise models of right and wrong. As young professionals in the real world, students will face ambiguity and rapidly changing circumstances. They need to become comfortable dealing with uncertainty and with taking the initiative to find the “missing pieces of the puzzle” to solve complex problems. By partnering with industry leaders, MARS Apprentice can simulate what the current business environment looks like, allowing students to practice putting these skills to the test.

Ani Velinova

Ani Velinova

How is DeGroote/MARS preparing students for the rapidly changing job market?

MARS continually adapts to the real world by offering new cases that are currently impacting our learning partners. Last year, an alumni mentorship program was launched and paired students with MARS alumni working in various industries. It allowed students to create connections that will help them once they graduate and enter the job market.

Learning Partners

Canadian Tire Bank

For the past 16 years, MARS Apprentice has served as a recruitment vehicle for learning partners to bring top talent into their organizations. Watch the video with Canadian Tire Bank below. Hear Cam Thomson, Jonathan Royal, and Vanessa Ruby speak to the value of young professionals willing to challenge the status quo.

Jan Kelley

Why has Jan Kelley been involved in MARS Apprentice for the past 16 years? The short answer: the people. Jan Kelley takes pride in its award-winning culture, which would not be possible without high-performing individuals’ efforts. Watch the video below to hear Shannon Ballard and Bronte Jones speak about the importance of finding young, passionate professionals to enrich their organizational performance.

2 thoughts on "MARS Apprentice prepares students for the future workplace"

  1. Basil Ahmad says:

    Hi, I am an undergrad student at McMaster studying commerce. I wanted to know how I can apply for the MARS Apprentice program.

    1. Caitlin Costello says:

      Hi Basil,

      Thank you for your comment. If you’re interested in learning more about the MARS Apprentice program, we suggest reaching out to the team via their Instagram page.

      All the best,


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