Working with the Mid-America Regional Council, Information Technology Projects Coordinator Steve Sunarjo helped to bring together people from seven local governments for a common goal.
Steve helped to set up the IT portion of the Public Service Career Expo which introduced 1,400 students from 37 area high schools to promising career paths in public service. The event also connected employers to their future workforce and featured more than 50 exhibitors from local government, including police, fire, health, human services, administration, parks and recreation, public works and water services, as well as representatives from colleges and universities.
According to IT Director Michael Erickson, this year was the first year all of the jurisdictions got together by divisions instead of each having their own pod.
“This year it was a challenge with all of the jurisdictions doing it together because you are relying on trying to get a hold of people in KCMO, Overland Park, Lenexa and KCK. It was a struggle, out of the chute we were behind. First of all they started a little late and then we weren’t getting the feedback. Steve persevered, he pushed through and started just sending out emails and hammering these people until he started getting responses back,” Erickson said.
During planning for the expo IT started out with a relatively small space until Steve expanded it into something rather large, Erickson said. “We got some people to bring equipment in and we brought in a lot of servers and hardware just to show these young kids what could be a career path. You know in government it can sometimes be challenging because of our pay structures and stuff like that. But, this is a great landing point for young kids to figure it out and start learning and moving their careers.”
In cooperation with other partners, Steve was able to bring in outside vendors. He said, “They had a virtual reality demo and a lot of fun hands on stuff. We made it as interactive as possible. GIS was involved so kids were able to get on there and play with building out cities and things like that. We had a setup for hacking with hacking tools and things like that. We also handed out a lot of swag. Steve was able to get a budget from MARC to buy fidget spinners and things like that that kids like to play with.”
“Overall it was a tremendous success. Technology is cool, it’s fun to look at a lot of that stuff but it’s hard to compete against those guys in law enforcement and public works that bring in the big trucks and all that. They got all of the cool toys,” Erickson said. “I really commend Steve for all he did with the Career Expo.”
Steve’s path to becoming projects coordinator for the IT Department wasn’t exactly a straight line. He was born in Jakarta, Indonesia and spent most of his childhood in Hong Kong. At the age of 16 he moved to Southern California where he went to school at the College of the Canyons in Valencia. Steve stayed for the next 30 years in California until moving to Missouri in 2008.
Prior to life at the County, he was an insurance underwriter/broker/marketer for about 15 years working for companies such as Prudential and 21st Century Insurance. He also worked for Cumulus Media as a radio commercial marketing coordinator for a few years. Steve started with the county in the Assessment Department where he worked for a year before starting with IT.