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Youth expo highlights rewarding, high-demand careers in public service

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Blog by Mid-America Regional Council 

County and municipal leaders from across the Kansas City region joined the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) in hosting approximately 3,200 young people from more than 50 metro-area high schools and middle schools at the 2023 Public Service Career Expo. The region’s fifth youth expo took place Nov. 15, 2023, at the Bartle Hall Convention Center in Kansas City, Missouri, giving middle and high school students a chance to explore rewarding and high-demand career opportunities in local government.  

More than 300 representatives from cities, counties, MARC and area colleges participated in the free, in-person event showcasing jobs in law enforcement, fire/EMS, parks/recreation, public health, public works/trades/utilities, administration, human services and information technology. 

Using Agilities to explore careers

As part of the expo, students also learned about The DeBruce Foundation’s Agile Work Profiler©, an online skills and career assessment tool designed to help individuals discover their strengths and interests related to work. Developed through data analysis from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and tested through research, the tool links a person’s interests and what they do well with clusters of work activities known as “Agilities©.” These Agilities are used in every job in the workforce in different ways and amounts. 

“As a human resource professional, I’ve seen how the knowledge of your top skills and interests – your Agilities – helps students identify careers they’re interested in, learn about the training and education required and discover which jobs might be the best fit,” said Jesse Rozof, a human resource partner at Johnson County, Kansas.

“Understanding your Agilities affirms the value of a student’s experiences and helps build the confidence they need to pursue a career,” Goldie Gildehaus, assistant director of employer relations at University of Missouri – Kansas City. “Knowing their Agilities also helps students better articulate their strengths and interests in interviews, and on scholarship and job applications, expanding the career options they want to explore.” 

In a post-event survey, many students said the expo made them want to learn more about careers in local government. 

“The careers that we saw yesterday were all amazing.” 
“Fun experience! Great way for students to learn about different jobs.” 
“It opened my eyes to the different types of jobs, what the jobs entail and how they play an important part in running America.” 

Other students said their favorite part of the expo included: 

“Exploring different jobs and having more knowledge.” 
“The hands-on activities, specifically the Legos, the games and the CPR.” 
“Seeing the police cars up close and going inside a firefighter truck for the first time.” 
“Learning more about the career I want to pursue in when I graduate high school and after I go to college.” 

Community support

Lead sponsors of the expo included the city of Kansas City, Missouri; Jackson County, Missouri; Johnson County, Kansas; and the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas. Additional event sponsors included WaterOne, the University of Missouri – Kansas City, and the cities of Leawood, Lenexa, Merriam, Olathe, Overland Park, Prairie Village and Shawnee in Kansas, and the cities of Gladstone, Grandview, Liberty and North Kansas City in Missouri. 

Serving as both the federally designated metropolitan planning organization for the bistate Kansas City region and as the council of governments for the nine counties and 119 cities in the region, MARC works with regional partnerships to enhance the performance of the metropolitan economy and expand inclusive economic opportunity, focusing on workforce development systems, postsecondary educational attainment, and producing data and analysis for economic prosperity efforts. 

Resources to learn more

To learn more about the Public Service Career Expo, as well as internship, volunteer and job shadowing opportunities across the Kansas City region, visit View 2023 expo event photos on MARC’s Flickr page. Curious about jobs in local government? Explore our video playlist. Learn more about the Agile Work Profiler at The DeBruce Foundation’s website.  

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