A New Age of Learning in Kansas City

By: Berit Nuetzmann

As of the summer of 2017 the Young Entrepreneurs Program of Kansas City (YEP KC) has officially launched its debut. This new program, founded by Christine & Sandy Kemper, takes a talented group of local juniors and seniors from around Kansas City and partners them with local startups. This program is intended to introduce students to business and begin developing their individual skills, as well as give them connections to promising startups in the KC area. All of these efforts are done in an attempt to encourage development and talent in Kansas City.

As I’ve gone through high school I’ve seen the push for programs like YEP KC. CAPS programs (Center for Advanced Professional Studies) both in the Northland and Blue Valley have begun to draw students by offering a new way of learning. Instead of sitting at traditional desks with strict schedules and repetitive projects, schools are moving toward providing students with real world knowledge through internships and shadowing experiences. This new learning provides  the students with projects that reflect what they will encounter in the workforce and allows them to experiment with future career options.

YEP KC is set up so a few selected students are placed at two companies in the area for one month sessions. I was first stationed at Fishtech, a cyber security company that focuses on protecting businesses and their data in the cloud. I learned how a startup is run and worked hand in hand with their project manager as well as the head of their HR to learn business techniques and professional skills.  My second session is currently at Dimensional Innovations, a design and build firm that houses everyone from architects, graphic designers, and industrial designers to engineers, hands on workers, and videographers.  They work to create amazing experiences for audiences, no matter where you are. I work closely with their design team and do projects for the rest of the company when necessary so I can learn useful software and practice creative thinking.

My experience with YEP was tailored to fit me.  So my experience is different from the experiences of other students participating in this program. I have learned business and management skills while also coming to more fully understand the role of design and the software that supports it. These are experiences I would have missed out on without YEP KC. Mentorship and guidance in a desired field can really engage students and get them excited about their futures as well as push them to become more competitive.

YEP hopes that by taking a few students each summer to participate in their program they can keep these high performing students in the area so Kansas City can grow through their work and potential achievements. Most of the promising talent tends to leave the midwest and take their ideas to coastal areas that are already developed with large research based universities. By providing connections to promising and successful businesses they hope we will choose to stay here instead.

This program not only gives participants connections to companies but also connects us with the other high performing students in the area that we would have otherwise never have met. In the future when we begin to create jobs and companies of our own we will have the support of a network of friends we made this summer.

While every step towards real world experiential learning in high school is a step forward, YEP KC really exemplifies this style of modern learning. YEP provides one of the best experiences for students in the area and has the potential to impact their future dramatically. I would recommend this program to any student who is ready to start working towards their future and isn’t afraid of a challenge. The work can be difficult but I have never enjoyed anything as much as I’ve enjoyed these past months with YEP.