Local Businesses Join KU Edwards Campus to Show Students How to CareerUP

More than 150 students met with representatives and alumni from 30 local employers at the KU Edwards Campus in April for the largest collaborative event of its kind in KU Edwards Campus history.

Student meeting with employer representatives

It’s often said the best way to get something done is to get the right people in the room. On April 10, the KU Edwards Campus (KUEC) Student Services team did just that. More than 150 KUEC students attended CareerUP: Elevating Your Career Network for the opportunity to network with representatives and alumni from more than 30 local employers; take a crash course in networking and professional skills; and participate in breakout sessions on CEO entrepreneur talk, personal branding and how to sell your skills.

After a brief preparation session, students headed to the BEST Building Conference Center where they heard from Lee Stuart, leadership programs manager for KU Professional & Continuing Education. Stuart covered “Critical Competencies for Success in the Workforce.” He stressed the desire of employers to hire employees who not only possess technical skills but also work well with others, highlighting the importance of soft skills and emotional intelligence.



Students interacted with their peers and faculty from other programs as they engaged with employers for potential mentorship and employment. Employers met new talent for their organizations and brushed up on the latest common sector competencies and professional skills research, such as the KC Rising Human Capital Common Sectors Competencies Task Force’s Common Sector Competencies for the Kansas City Region.

Vice Chancellor of KUEC Dave Cook addressed the crowd, sharing the Edwards Campus’ dedication to providing relevant education for workforce demand and his excitement about this first CareerUP event.

“This is exactly what this campus is about – connecting students to jobs,” he said. “We stand up new academic programs according to workforce needs. We bring businesses and students together in an effort to help with careers and help with professional development. This is a great forum. We have not done anything quite like this event before – with this size of a group made up of students, faculty, alumni, staff and organizations. You can see the passion we all have in really making a difference in our community.”

Tracey Hopper, chief operating officer of Tria Health – a provider of chronic condition management services to self-insured employers – said she’d never been to an event quite like this. A KU alumna, Hopper said the CareerUP event was a great opportunity to support the school and meet future employees and clients.

“We’re a growing company in a growing industry so an event like this is really great to make students aware of Tria Health, for Tria Health to market to students who could be potential employees, and employers who would potentially be interested in Tria Health’s services,” Hopper said.

Fellow alumna, Jessica Palm, vice president and lead executive - TeamKC – an initiative of the Kansas City Area Development Council – and chair of the KU Edwards Campus Workforce Advisory Board, stressed the importance of the CareerUP event and future events like it for the Kansas City community.

“For Kansas City, this is a really important opportunity to showcase different industries and types of positions in the area that students can be thinking about,” Palm said. “Sometimes there’s an interest gap where industries have a lot of functions within, but if students are not exposed to them, they are not aware of these opportunities. This event is a great space to connect industry and different businesses within our community that are in high growth mode with students who are actively pursuing advancement in their careers.”

One such student is Kathryn Ham, Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) student, graduating this May, and president of the KUEC Student Advisory Council, said she registered for CareerUP for the opportunity to network with Kansas City professionals and was not disappointed.

“As someone who is always looking for ways to grow professionally, I found the setup to be extremely helpful,” Ham said. “By having a ‘networking boot camp’ before the event, I felt confident and ready to put my best foot forward. I learned valuable tips and tricks for networking, as well as what companies are looking for in employees.”

85% of jobs are landed by networking

Calon Tharet, another member of KUEC’s Student Advisory Council and BBA student, said he appreciated the opportunity to meet employers as well us hone new skills.  

“The CareerUp professional networking event provided an excellent space to develop professional networking skills and offered valuable insights into the careers of top working professionals in the Kansas City area,” Tharet said. “The opportunity to talk with people experienced in building and selling your professional skill set, as well as conversing with those who are in the top of their field in a casual environment, was something I will definitely be on the lookout for in the future.”

According to Palm, the Edwards Campus is just the place for the CareerUP event.

“KUEC is at the center of our region and certainly a player in our community in making sure that continuing education in a relevant capacity is really enhancing careers and connecting businesses to individuals who are seeking career opportunities or updating their professional skills for the market,” she said. “As the chair of the KU Edwards Campus Workforce Advisory Board, I think this is a tremendous success for the Edwards Campus, being able to show the relationships this campus has been able to build in the community. We’re bringing all of these people into one room and showing you should be here. This is a true testament of the campus being out in the community and building these relationships.”

Employers at the event included the following:

  • Aston Carter, Aerotek, St. Luke’s Health System
  • Adventhealth Shawnee Mission                             
  • Associates at Hope Harbor
  • Burns & Mcdonnell
  • Cbiz Mhm
  • Cerner
  • Children’s Mercy Hospital
  • City of Merriam
  • CST Industries
  • Darimotion
  • DDI Commerical, inc.
  • Epiq Systems inc.
  • Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
  • Garmin
  • Hallmark Cards
  • Healthcare Shopping Network, llc
  • Kansas City Area Development Council
  • Kansas City Power and Light Company
  • Kansas City VA
  • Knightly Environmental Incorporated
  • KVK Kansas – Family Preservation
  • L.E.A.F Growth Ventures, llc
  • LK Communications
  • Needham DBS
  • Olathe Chamber of Commerce
  • Sprint
  • Tria Health
  • UMB
  • Voyage Consulting Group
  • Westar Energy
  • Workforce Partnership

It’s the KU Edwards Campus’ mission to bring high-quality education programs to serve diverse workforce, economic and community needs with particular focus on the KC region, providing lifelong education programs, research activities, and entrepreneurial initiatives that address present and future workforce needs.

The second annual CareerUP event on Nov. 13, 2019, brought even more students and local business leaders to the Edwards Campus. 

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