Case Study: Developing Professional Skills at Northland CAPS

The Northland Center for Advanced Professional Studies (Northland CAPS) is a premier provider of innovative professional and educational experiences for students in the Northland region of Kansas City, Missouri.

NCAPS offers high school juniors and seniors an opportunity to participate in a year-long career exploration curriculum, where they spend their fall semester developing professional skills and pitching client projects for local businesses, and their spring semester completing hands-on internships with those business partners.

Allison Clemens, the Program Development Manager at Northland CAPS, has been using Transeo Jobs since 2020 to help manage and scale this program; now, NCAPS places over 300 students across ten school districts in more than 200 business locations throughout the Kansas City metro region.

Purpose of the program

NCAPS was created to provide high school upperclassmen with immersive experiences in high-demand, high-skill careers. Students learn early career professional skills like project management, creativity and critical thinking, business ethics, teamwork and time management, and are able to explore a wide variety of career pathways to help them start their postsecondary planning.

The NCAPS educators identify their goals and strategic focus areas as:

  • Provide a relevant experience that supports college and career readiness for students
  • Be an economic development driver for engagement in the Kansas City and Northland region
  • Be a leader in fundamental change for traditional teaching and learning
  • Proactively and responsibly balance expansion of Northland CAPS through career pathway offerings and affordability for school districts

Business partnerships

Allison and her team at Northland CAPS have worked hard to grow and scale the number of business partnerships they can offer to students. Now, they work with over 400 local businesses to establish relevant, rigorous experiential learning opportunities.

NCAPS breaks their internship offerings into six different pathways, or “strands,” including Digital Media and Design, Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing, Global Business and Logistics, Business Accelerator, Medicine and Healthcare, and Technology Solutions. Within these strands, students can pursue projects in areas like audiovisual production, entrepreneurship, manufacturing prototypes, CPR and first aid, building websites and more. 

“Our strands were developed around workforce development in our region to provide the students that we serve an employment option post-high school,” Allison said.

Recruiting this many business partners certainly comes with logistical challenges, but Allison has found that the mutually beneficial value proposition of the NCAPS program is a sufficient draw. The employer provides an educational experience for the student; but the student, in turn, adds real value to the company or organization. And by using Transeo Jobs to manage their growing business network, Allison is able to automate communication and paperwork, and nurture new contacts until they’re ready to set up student internships.

Selection and evaluation

Above all, Allison and her team want to ensure that students gain real professional skills from the program. Students must complete all professional skills modules through Transeo, attend an outside networking event, and obtain an instructor recommendation–all before they even apply to an internship. Once they submit their application, they are interviewed and selected by a business partner.

The instructor recommendations are based on attendance, communication skills, the student’s ability to meet deadlines, and their general professionalism. Then, once the student begins the internship, they are regularly evaluated on their attendance and punctuality, communication with their instructor and supervisor, and the weekly reports and presentations they complete.

Student impact

NCAPS does not operate out of a school; instead, their classrooms are hosted by business partner sites across the Northland region. This allows participants to gain a greater understanding of the corporate world, how to behave in a professional work environment, and the skills (both soft and technical) required to be successful. They’re given the chance to regularly interact with career mentors and build lasting relationships in local business sectors.

Since it was founded in 2013, NCAPS has become recognized and well-respected as a career prep program. Participants regularly earn scholarships and entry into elite colleges thanks to their robust resumes, full portfolios, and improved interviewing skills.

Although the internships themselves are unpaid, they translate to high school credit, and 40-50% of participants are able to convert their internships into paid summer employment. The program also offers dual credit through Northwest Missouri State University and the University of Missouri–Kansas City, if students successfully complete a final report and presentation reflecting on their experience.

“I am learning about real estate, photography and the home buying and selling process in general,” said Jordan, a student intern at a real estate company. “This experience has made me so excited to learn all aspects of real estate and how technology plays a huge role in that career. This opportunity will prepare me for life after high school and college.”

The takeaway

The Northland CAPS team has worked hard to grow work-based learning opportunities in the Kansas City region, because they recognize the importance of giving high school students real, hands-on, practical experience in a variety of different career paths.

“It was always the goal for Northland CAPS to be the driver of change in education, and due to the successes of student associates and partnerships with businesses, this is happening,” said Allison. “Working with our alumni graduates as they return to companies that they have connected with through our program and now hosting our internships has been a great testimonial of what we are doing.”

To learn more about how Transeo Jobs can transform student readiness through work-based learning, contact us today.