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KC nonprofit matches 1,200 high schoolers with employers for summer internships

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Posted at 4:25 PM, Mar 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-18 22:22:19-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — ProX, a nonprofit in Kansas City, hosted its second annual hiring fair Saturday. The event helps match high schoolers with summer internships.

Students and employers submitted basic applications, went through a vetting process and attended a training workshop in advance.

“You just go around and you do interviews,” said high school senior Amara Brown. “Even if we can’t get one, there’s still an opportunity to interview with 10 more companies.”

Brown ended up landing a summer internship doing social media marketing for collegiate sports. She says it's a perfect combination of her interests: physical therapy and marketing.

“I already have a job that I’m gonna be doing over the summer, but I also wanted something that would look good on my resume, that would also further my experience in a more business-focused field,” Brown said.

She says young people like herself have to jump on such opportunities because employer expectations are higher these days.

“Companies want more from us, they don’t want to just see 'Oh, you did fast food for maybe one summer.' They want to see, 'Oh, you’re actually putting in work to further your career and take that step so you can get to the next level,'” Brown said.

Organizers of the hiring fair say the event is all about leveling the playing field.

“It’s an opportunity for all kids. We don’t have a GPA requirement, you don’t have to be a part of the National Honor Society, you don’t have to be on the principal’s honor roll," said Michael Robins, program director. "If you want an opportunity and you want real-world job experience, then we’re the place to be for you."

Every student that is hired receives a $1,250 stipend and a high school credit at the end of the program. Small business owner Shanice Garner says the partnership helps exponentially, especially since pay does not come out of her own pocket.

“Right now, we’re just trying to get our store off the ground and back to where it was,” Garner said. “It’s good for the interviewees and me because it’s both giving us what we need.”

Garner was able to hire five interns who will help run her boutique, Narues Distinctive Girls Fashion.

“Giving the youths somewhere to work in a positive setting, showing them the ropes is only going to make our youth stronger for the future,” she said.

Investing in the youth means students like Brown can seek opportunities they may have felt were out of reach.

“I think this is just a really good opportunity, especially for inner-city kids," Brown said. "We don’t often get these kinds of opportunities, so being able to do something like this is really great."