FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Oct. 13, 2003
Strategic partnership benefits City and UMKC
Comprehensive student internship program created
In an effort to combine resources for the benefit of Kansas City taxpayers, the City of Kansas City, Mo., and the University of Missouri-Kansas City today announced the creation of the first comprehensive City Internship Program. The program is the first in a new strategic partnership between Kansas City, Missouri’s two largest public institutions.
The City Internship Program, currently involving 34 students, provides students the opportunity to gain valuable professional experience that enhances their skills and competencies while learning how city government works. The interns are working in the following City departments: Aviation, the City Auditor’s Office, the City Clerk’s office, the City Council, the City Manager’s office, Environmental Management, Finance, Health, Human Relations, Human Resources, Information Technology, Mayor’s Office, Municipal Court, and Neighborhood and Community Services.
The interns’ job duties range from creating automated revenue reports to developing procedure manuals, updating department Web sites and performing supplemental research. From this experience with the City, UMKC students from all disciplines will be uniquely positioned to take the next important steps toward building successful careers and becoming responsible community leaders, manifesting UMKC’s goal to be ‘an essential community partner and resource’.
The program was developed after discussions between senior leaders from each organization. City Manager Wayne Cauthen and UMKC Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Steve Ballard began talks last May. With both the City and UMKC facing millions of dollars in lost revenue, Cauthen and Ballard recognized that by working together, they could accomplish more than working separately toward achieving their similar visions for Kansas City. They quickly marshaled forces to make the program happen for the current fall semester. Ballard enlisted the help of The Center for the City at UMKC, and Cauthen hired Cathy Le, a UMKC alumnus, as a full-time internship coordinator for the City.
The Center for the City at UMKC, which serves as a portal to leverage the intellectual and human resources of Kansas City’s major urban university with the needs and priorities of the urban core, approached UMKC faculty members who agreed to publicize the program and recruit students within the tight timeframe.
Cauthen hopes that the students will gain the same valuable educational and experiential benefits he reaped from an internship early in his career. “We welcome UMKC students of every academic major to the City. Their contributions to the very communities they live in help us to further enhance our processes and initiatives to deliver quality services to citizens. I’m impressed by the candidates who have taken advantage of this opportunity to integrate their classroom theories with real world models. As a product of internships myself, I strongly believe the experiences, connections and mentorship I gained as an intern played an integral role in my career development,” said Cauthen.
Ballard notes that the new partnership and the internship program are solid examples of two strategic goals of the University – attracting, nurturing and developing responsible community leaders and being an essential community partner and resource. In addition, he says there are incalculable educational benefits.
“UMKC students have a unique opportunity to experience city government across a broad range of professions and skills, apply their classroom knowledge and engage in public service. They will gain valuable work experience, professional contacts, potential job opportunities and a deeper understanding of their chosen fields as they manifest our goal to be an essential community partner and resource,” said Ballard.
What can be calculated is the substantial benefit to Kansas City taxpayers. Together, the City and UMKC have committed about $10,000 in scholarship funds to support the City Internship Program. When compared to what it would cost to hire 34 college educated professionals to perform the tasks identified by each department, the benefits are obvious.
Citizens not only benefit from the work being work being performed by the students, they also get the advantage of the latest thinking in a wide range of fields by virtue of the students still being actively engaged in their educations. “It’s exciting to have scholarly individuals integrating their learning into City Hall processes,” said Cauthen. “These students are bright and intuitive. Their fresh perspectives coupled with the talent and resources of the University are instrumental in helping the City do its job,” added Cauthen.
The City Internship Program will continue next semester. Students of all majors are encouraged to apply. The application deadline is Dec. 19. Interested students can logon to the City’s Web site (www.kcmo.org) to see the internships listings and to download applications.