Nurturing Future Qualitative Researchers with the QRCA Young Professional Grant

Think back over your research career, especially early on.
What or who helped you the most? Or left a lasting impression? More than likely your answer is another person…
Your first mentor.
Conference speaker.
A former boss.
Or a colleague who took time to answer your questions or show you how to be valuable to your team and client in the backroom during a focus group.

Human connection is a powerful thing and key to accelerating careers. We’ve all experienced it.

2017 QRCA Young Professionals Grant (YPG) recipients, past recipients, QRCA YPG committee members and YPG corporate partners

What young researchers want

The Qualitative Research Consultants Association created the Young Professionals Grant (YPG) Program in 2014 to provide young researchers with the opportunity for such person-to-person connections. Its mission is to help advance young qualitative researchers’ careers via access to peer networking and educational sessions at the organization’s annual conference. For the second consecutive year, FocusVision is a gracious corporate partner.

As part of the application process, the QRCA has heard from hundreds of rising researchers from around the world about why they’re applying for the grant. Some of what we hear isn’t surprising: the opportunity to build their network, expand their skill set and learn best practices. More importantly, as an industry association, we’ve learned about the wants, needs, and challenges this rising cohort of powerhouse researchers (and they are just that!) face. Here’s some of what we’ve heard:

  • They’re not only looking to network with experienced researchers. While this is hands down the top wish, young professionals tell us that it’s just as important – yet more difficult – to meet other researchers their age or those with a similar ethnic background.
  • Beyond building their own skill sets, they want to use what they learn from conferences or other sources – especially new tools and methodologies – to help advance their companies and later, to improve the industry itself.
  • Young pros want to be taken more seriously by their colleagues and clients. They share that age and years of experience are prioritized over accomplishments leaving some to feel pressured to obtain more concrete proof points that age is nothing but a number, like educational certificates and awards.
  • However, getting these proof points is difficult when young researchers are overlooked for development opportunities. Young researchers share that investments in educational opportunities or conferences are going to more senior researchers or simply aren’t available (particularly if one is an independent).
  • Related, in the applications we read about an overall lack of championship. Whether or not you buy into the hype that Millennials are entitled, didn’t we all want and thrive under even the occasional acknowledgment as young researchers?
2017 Young Professional Grant recipients (R) and QRCA member ambassadors (L) at the First Timers event in 2017

Supporting the next generation of researchers

Recipients of the QRCA Young Professionals Grant receive an all-access pass, a USD 1,300 value, to the 2018 Annual Conference: Elevate & Cultivate, held January 24-26th in Phoenix, AZ. The grant includes full registration fees to:

  • Attend any of the 30+ educational sessions led by qualitative experts
  • Access the vendor marketplace to see and learn the newest tools and techniques
  • Go to all the conference’s networking events, group meals, and conference gala

To further facilitate meaningful, person-to-person interactions and directly address the wishes and barriers young researchers face, the grant also includes:

  • Young professional networking and mentoring: Invite to an exclusive breakfast celebration with other recipients and previous YPG awardees. Attending the breakfast as well are select QRCA members and senior representatives from the YPG partners, FocusVision, Schlesinger Associates and M/A/R/C Research, to answer questions and provide advice in a more intimate setting.
  • Assigned conference ambassadors: As part of the First Timers conference program, all new attendees are assigned a QRCA member as a ‘welcome’ ambassador. During the First Timers event itself on day one, attendees meet more members in a fun, speed dating activity. Purposefully matched with the most influential and gregarious QRCA members, YPG recipients can build relationships with their ambassadors ahead of the conference, receive conference navigation tips and are taken under the wing of their ambassador throughout the conference (and from what we hear, beyond).
  • Never-ending meet and greet: QRCA members are encouraged to seek out and introduce themselves to give recipients ample opportunities to ask questions and exposure to different types of researchers whether age, methodological expertise, cultural background, etc.

There’s more to be done. The QRCA has recently introduced a discounted membership tier for young researchers and plans to roll out additional initiatives in the future. It’s also thrilling to see the increasing number of efforts across the industry!

Remember to take a moment now and then to intentionally reach out, listen and be there for someone just starting out their career. I’m sure your younger self would be pleased!

Apply or help spread the word

Fourth Annual QRCA Young Professionals Grant
15 no cost passes to the top ‘for researchers, by researchers’ qualitative conference in
January for professionals 35 years or younger
Application deadline: November 1

Interested in applying?
Visit for more information on the QRCA Young Professional Grant, qualification, and application. All qualified individuals who apply, but aren’t awarded a grant, will receive a 25% discount on the regular registration fee if they decide to join QRCA and attend the conference.

Know someone who might qualify?
Help the QRCA and FocusVision spread the word by sharing this article!

About QRCA

QRCA is a global association of the world’s most innovative, collaborative and passionate market research professionals dedicated to maximizing the power of qualitative.

About the author

Shannon is Principal of danzy consults., an independent consultancy offering brand strategy, qualitative and quantitative services. She specializes in digital qualitative methods, communications testing and agile, hybrid methods such as remote usability fused with ethnography to naturalistically observe how people interact with products versus in staged, out-of-context settings. Shannon began consulting in 2011 after a decade of strategic planning and research at communications agencies and nonprofits. She’s a member of the Insights Association, UXPA, EPIC and the QRCA. She currently chairs the QRCA’s Young Professionals Grant Committee and is the NYC Chapter lead for the New Research Speakers Club; both initiatives that look to strengthen and diversify the future of the market research industry.

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