Hire KC Youth Job Fair offers opportunities for young people

The fifth annual Hire KC Job Fair took place March 24. The job fair offers unique job opportunities for Kansas City’s youth.


The Hire KC job fair took place March 24 at the Metropolitan Community College Tech Campus. The fair featured 83 employers with job openings. photo by Olivia Wirtz

by Delaney Hupke, Writer

The doors open and an upbeat and hopeful atmosphere fills the air. Tone’Nae Bradley-Toomer looks around at the hundreds of employers waiting to interview her. She straightens her blazer and walks up to the first booth, eager to begin her opportunity-filled day.

This is the Hire KC Youth Job fair. An event that is solely for the purpose of helping young Kansas Citians find employment in the summer. It is also a way to introduce young people to the professional world and prepare them for what is to come when they get older.

“The job fair is one of the best ways to directly put young people and employers together to exchange resumes, meet and interview,” Nicholas Dorn, Hire KC Youth Program Coordinator said.

Senior Tone’Nae Bradley-Toomer has attended the job fair since her sophomore year. One job she had was working at the Kansas City Area Development Council where she had to keep up with the development in Kansas City real estate and business.

“I have gotten to meet some really cool people and learn more about Kansas City and all the work that is being done to improve [Kansas City],” Bradley-Toomer said. “The program is a big time commitment.”

Aside from her internship, she had to attend an additional meeting every Tuesday night in the summer to work on their professionalism for their internships and future job interviews and encounters.

“It was like an intro to professionalism course,” Bradley-Toomer said. “I made a lot of friends and learned a lot.”

Last year, the Hire KC Youth Job Fair was able to connect over 350 people with paid work from the 1,000 jobs that were offered at the fair.

“Usually we get 600 people registered but find hundreds more just show up,” Dorn said. “It brings hundreds of students into contact with nearly 100 employers. Besides jobs and internships, employment-seeking young people can discover more about their work-based options, learning pathways and skill-developing opportunities.”

The registration process includes a questionnaire that can help narrow the job search to what would interest someone or what would be easiest for whatever situation they are in. Also, a resume needs to be prepared to show the employers and people applying are given tips on how to prepare for interviews with potential employers. Attending the job fair also means dressing nicely in a business casual style to make a good first impression for the professional people at the job fair.

The Hire KC Youth program began in 2014 as Mayor Sly James’ employment program for the youth of Kansas City. It holds opportunities not easily found elsewhere and allows young people to develop respect and a sense of responsibility.

Dorn thinks that, “dressing nice, shaking hands, preparing a resume, responding to questions, setting goals and thinking intentionally about the roles,” can teach people to be more respectful alongside learning the responsibility of their new job.

The young people in attendance aren’t the only ones receiving an unusual opportunity.

Topgolf, an organization that attends the job fair and hires students from it, also gets to see potential employers in a different setting from a normal job interview.

“The job fair allows us to connect with prospective candidates before they are invited out to one of our [other] hiring events,” Dane Swan, the Hospitality Manager at Topgolf in Overland Park, said.

Swan takes this opportunity to explain to potential employees what they could expect from working at Topgolf.

“Our team always enjoys connecting with everyone at the job fair, and have built meaningful relationships with companies and candidates involved,” Swan said.

Swan said that they look for things like a positive attitude, commitment and ability to ask questions in attendees at the job fair.

“We typically find the most engaging, self-driven and curious candidates to bring on to the team,” Swan said.

From the actual job fair, to the professionalism meetings to the internship that lasts all summer, the effects of the Hire KC Youth Job Fair lasts much longer than just the day of the event.

“Several of our interns have gone on to full-time roles or went to college but returned to the same employer during the holidays to help out with projects,” Dorn said.

Young people can take the respect and responsibility they have gained through the whole employment process to create strong relationships in the summer to lead to more opportunities for work during the rest of the year.

For people like Dorn, it is also a time commitment to put the job fair together. The 1,000 jobs offered at the fair come from many employers who the Hire KC Youth program takes time to find.

“We usually explain that having a young, creative, savvy person in the workplace usually vitalizes colleagues and culture,” Dorn said. “We use a variety of techniques but most importantly we seek employers who believe in investing in young people to develop more than just an intern but a potential future employee.”