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2015 YE Summer Partnership

Posted on June 14, 2015 by under Community, Things to Do, Tips.    

I had the opportunity to help with the Youth Entrepreneurs summer partnership program at work this year. Our Topeka office has participated in the program for a few years. Last year was our first year to participate. Isaac and I had the opportunity to spend a couple of hours with the kids when they came to tour our Customer Relations Center. These were the most brilliant young minds and they had great questions. I remember wishing that I could have spent more time with the students. This year my wish was granted when our Community Relations Manager Ebony reached out to me to be part of the 2015 summer partnership committee. My work schedule was already hectic but I didn’t even have to think about it. Of course, I said yes.

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Some important meetings prevented me from being with the class the full two weeks but I did get to interact with the kids a lot more this year, beginning with the mingle/speed interview session we hosted a few of weeks before our June 1 start date.

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I was there on the first day when the kids learned about the basics of electricity from Mr. Joe Drassen. It was a really informative presentation.

Several executives made it a point to speak to the class. Mr. Jimmy Martinez talked to the kids about how he got his start, the different jobs he’s held in the company, and what he learned along the way.

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We got to tour DSO. Pictured above is Mr. Phil Sadler talking to the kids about his area of the business. That same day is when the kids learned about emergency operations from Ms. Natalie Rolfe and Automated Metering Infrastructure (AMI) from Ms. Sherii Farmer.

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Since we were in the area, we took the opportunity to get a group photo of the class in front of the Keeper of the Plains. What a great looking group!

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Here’s a picture of the group at lunch.

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The class also got to tour our Emporia Energy Center and learn about our generation portfolio and public relations efforts. I didn’t get to go with them on that day because I had mandatory training with my department. That was a really cool day though because the YE class from Topeka met the Wichita class in Emporia so the two groups got to mingle and work together.

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The next time I got to join the group was when they went to our service building on Central to learn about safety and training. I was one of the drivers designated to shuttle the kids from the Wichita office to the service building on that day.

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The students learned about the importance of wearing safety gear and they got to experience climbing poles. Don’t worry. We asked them all to sign waivers ahead of time.

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The students were quite competitive, each one trying to climb higher than the last.

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Some of the students opted to skip the pole climbing in favor of getting up in the bucket. Others did both. It was really hot but everyone seemed to have a great time. It’s so much better when you can make learning fun. I think so, anyway.

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I was relieved when it was time to head back inside for the power town demo because I was melting. Couldn’t leave the kids, though.

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On the day that we were supposed to take the kids to the Symphony in the Flint Hills work site, we had transportation issues so we ended up staying in town instead. It worked out alright because I was a little nervous about driving the 12-passenger van for an hour and half. I’d never driven any kind of van before until that week.

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Since we canceled the trip to Strong City (kind of a bummer because we were going to meet up with the Topeka YE class there), I didn’t have to drive very far (just to the American Red Cross). The kids still got to experience doing some community service. Some of the kids helped with the fan distribution and disbursement of supplies. Our group helped fold brochures and stuff envelopes and bags.

On one of the days I missed, the class got to tour JR Custom Metal Products and Freddy’s Frozen Custard. I was bummed because I really wanted to join them on that day.

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I was grateful that our strategy summit ended at noon on Friday because I was able to make it back to the office in time for the final presentations. All of the teams did great but had to be ranked first, second, and third. Potato Power took third, WattStars took second, and Electric Eels finished first.

All of the presentations were very good and demonstrated the depth of knowledge the kids learned in such a short amount of time. During the two weeks the students were exposed to various aspects of our business and then some. Looking back at my own experiences growing up, I really wished that YE was around when I was in high school because the summer partnership experience is amazing. It allows you to learn about the company from the inside and meet people. It’s a great networking opportunity. In fact, one of the YE participants last year got an internship this year.

There are several great companies that participate in the summer partnership program. This year the list included Case New Holland, Morgan Stanley, Koch Industries, BKD, Eric Fisher Academy, High Touch Technologies, Cocoa Dolce, General Motors, and RSA. The Youth Entrepreneurs organization participated by hosting a summer partnership as well. Not only do the kids earn valuable experience, they also earn YE points which they can use to either fund their business or higher education.

I wish YE was around when I was young. I highly recommend it. It’s a shame it’s not available at Derby High School where my nephew goes. Classes are available at several schools in Wichita, though. Check the web site. If you’re a student (or have high school age children), this is an opportunity you definitely don’t want to miss!

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