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Unhidden Talents: How KC Is Bridging the Talent Gap

By Sarah Mote | Sep 08, 2015

Northland CAPS helps build STEM careers

Madison Nasteff could have spent another summer as a cashier at a grocery store, but instead she turned her summer vacation into a step ahead in a STEM (Science, Technology, Enginnering, Math) career.

Over this past spring and summer, Nasteff helped oversee the lean manufacturing of the much beloved Cheez-It®—and possibly discovered her career path. A Liberty High School valedictorian, she landed the internship in manufacturing engineering for Kellogg’s Snacks in Kansas City, Kan., thanks to Northland Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS).

Through Northland CAPS, and its southern sister Blue Valley CAPS, high school students work with real businesses across five professional strands: engineering and advance manufacturing, global business and entrepreneurship, global logistics and transportation, medicine and health care, and technology solutions. Northland CAPS helps them work on their soft skills—resume, interviewing, networking—while the internships give them practical career skills they just can’t get in the classroom.

The hands-on experience Nasteff gained in her CAPS internship travelled on the heels of a lifelong passion that started with LEGO blocks and flourished when she took home the Pioneer in Science Award at the 2014 Greater Kansas City Science & Engineering Fair. In between, Nasteff was a member of the robotics team in middle school, soaking in as much science, technology, engineering and math as she could, in and out of the classroom.

This fall, she’ll attend Rice University in Houston, Tex., with the plan to major in engineering. Already she’s thinking about coming back to to intern with Kellogg’s and learn more about manufacturing engineering. Whether she does come back or move on to another opportunity, she’s made strong, early moves in what is destined to be a successful career.

From initiatives at the grade school and graduate school level, Kansas City aims to groom the next-gen talent.

CODER DOJO – Grade School
Kansas City Women in Technology brought the global Coder Dojo program to KC to help teach kids—as young as seven years old—how to code.

Burns and McDonnell's BATTLE OF THE BRAINS – Grade School
It's pretty straightforward and pretty genius: kids are challenged to design the next great exhibit for Science City to win grant money for their school. 

KC STEM ALLIANCE – Middle to High School
Through programs like Project Lead the Way and FIRST Robotics, the alliance coordinates data collection and facilitates partnerships among schools and businesses.

KC FIRST – Grade School to High School
In partnership with the KC STEM Alliance, KC FIRST  engages young people in mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills; inspire innovation; and foster well-rounded life skills including self-confidence, communication and leadership.

BLUE VALLEY CAPS AND NORTHLAND CAPS – High School
High school students work with real businesses across six professional strands: accelerator, bioscience, business, engineering, human services, medicine and healthcare

BIZFEST – High School
KC BizFest offers high school juniors and seniors from KC’s Latino community an opportunity to learn a variety of life skills and business techniques.

UMKC BLOCH SCHOOL E-SCHOLARS  – College and beyond
The UMKC Bloch School develops managerial talent to help accelerate businesses into scalable, sustainable companies.

KCSOURCELINK – Startups and Established Business Owners
Education never stops. That’s why our Resource Partners offer workshops and seminars on a wide variety of topics, from Quickbooks to Investor Pitches to Social Media and beyond. Check the calendar for opportunities relevant to your business.

WeCreate Talent, YouCreate KC

Share your story of how you create Kansas City and learn more about how KCSourceLink is measuring our progress toward becoming America's most entrepreneurial city at wecreatekc.com

Know about a program that's helping bridge the talent divide? Let us know.

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