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Supporter Spotlight: Meet Westar Energy

Based in Topeka, Kan., Westar Energy is Kansas’ leading electric utility provider and proud supporter of Youth Entrepreneurs. Through a two-week summer program, Westar connects YE students to the company and job opportunities. Kim Konecy, Director of Talent Acquisition, and Kaitlyn Truesdell, YE alum, explain their passion for the program and how it’s a win-win for both YE students and the company.

The Big Idea

“It was like drinking out of a fire hydrant,” Kaitlyn laughs. During the two-week Westar YE summer program, Kaitlyn and her fellow YE alums explored every aspect of the company and its industry, from visiting power plants to learning about electric cars. The grand finale? A two-way team competition presenting innovative industry solutions to Westar leadership. 

Her team’s big idea was ‘Wesave,’ a program to educate students about electricity and utility companies. Plus, it was a Westar play-on-words. “It wasn’t mind-blowing, but our presentation skills and showcasing what we learned put us over the top,” she says. 

Her team won the competition, and Kaitlyn’s leadership stood out. She’s been connected with Westar ever since.

Photo courtesy of Kaitlyn Truesdell. 

Win-Win Opportunities 

“If we missed our bill, they would shut our lights off,” says Kaitlyn, explaining her knowledge of  Westar prior to that summer. Her experience echoes many Kansas teens who grow up in at-risk homes. Those experiences, Kim says, the Westar team had in mind when the program was launched in 2012. 

“We wanted to expose them to our company in a fun way,” says Kim, former Westar YE program coordinator. “We wanted to expose them to people who care. Plus, YE students and alumni are energetic and engaged.” 

Photo courtesy of Westar Energy. 

After Kaitlyn’s participation, she reached back out to Westar for a college class assignment. “YE taught me the importance of networking,” she says. “I had to pick a leader to interview, so I picked Jerl Banning, Westar VP of Human Resources.” 

YE taught me the importance of networking.” 

Jerl encouraged her towards an HR internship at Westar. She applied. “I was on my way home from my grandparents when I got the call from Kim Konecny,” she says. “I remembered her from my summer program. I either screamed or cried — I was so excited to be picked!” 

Kaitlyn went on to intern with the company throughout college. She joined Westar as full-time recruiter in 2016. 

Entrepreneurism in Life 

“YE gives students the tools to be an entrepreneurs. Those skills can be transferred anywhere,” says Kim. The Westar and YE collaboration has proved to be a win-win for the company and YE alum. Beyond Kaitlyn, several other students have stayed connected with the company. 


Photo courtesy of Westar Energy.

“Westar is all about the abilities to see opportunities and seize them,” Kaitlyn says. “I think the partnership between Westar and YE is genius. It’s hands-on learning. It’s so important for students to be exposed to new opportunities and for companies to care.” 

Discover more stories about YE supporters and collaborators here