A spotlight on CDC Volunteer, Ryan Hundt, CEO at Michigan Works! Association
Youth Solutions held our 13th annual Career Development Conference (CDC) at the Lansing Center on April 21. This signature event gives youth across Michigan an opportunity to showcase the skills they’ve learned while participating in the Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates (JMG) program. Career-focused competitions give students the platform to shine in front of volunteer judges who evaluate and offer feedback to the youth participants.
We spoke to Ryan Hundt, CEO of the Michigan Works! Association, a nonprofit organization that provides workforce development services to job seekers and businesses across Michigan, about his experiences volunteering at the CDC this year.
“Ryan is an enthusiastic volunteer and we appreciate his support. Moreover, Ryan and the Michigan Works! Association are valuable partners to everything we do at Youth Solutions," said Mollie Waller, Executive Director at Youth Solutions. Hundt, who has been active in the economic and workforce development space since 2013, has a passion for helping Michigan develop a thriving economy and robust talent pipeline. After working in a number of related positions, he joined the Michigan Works! Association as CEO in 2021. Hundt attended the CDC conference last year as a casual observer. Initially, he was interested in checking out the program and learning about the competitions. He was impressed with what he experienced last year so he and a couple of his colleagues volunteered at this year’s event. Hundt wanted to get actively involved in shaping the future of talent development within Michigan. There may be no better way to do that than to interact with Michigan’s youth than at the CDC.
Hundt participated as a judge in the interview competition. “I was judging the seventh graders in the resume competition and was so impressed with their presentation skills. How they articulated their backgrounds and how their life experiences shaped their presentations was remarkable. They were prepared and shining,” said Hundt. He continued to say, “most of these youth face some barriers or a certain number of challenges. I was also very impressed with their focus, preparing for what is a nerve wracking experience for most adults. They presented themselves so well. It was truly amazing.”
When asked about advice for youth looking to continue their education or enter the workforce, Hundt's feedback was to “keep showing up and maintain a positive attitude. This will distinguish and differentiate youth from the crowd and make them stand out in a positive fashion.”
Events like the CDC are important for young people, Youth Solutions staff, and key stakeholders to experience the impact of workforce development programs. Hundt emphasized the importance of building relationships with partners to achieve common objectives. He said “relationships help us maintain the mission and focus of workforce development initiatives”.
It is also relationships like the one forged between Youth Solutions and the Michigan Works! Association that helps us solve larger issues together. “Our expertise is in delivering career development solutions for youth,” said Waller. “We currently have agreements with 15 of the 16 Michigan Works! locations, supporting their youth development goals with our Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates programming. These relationships allow us to serve more youth, increasing our reach and improving outcomes across our state.”
Hundt also emphasized the importance of active involvement and partnerships when asked about the biggest opportunities for connecting youth and employers across Michigan. “Workforce and economic development can be complex. We cannot do this work in silos. Together, we can pool resources to make a bigger impact,” said Hundt.
Together we can improve the future for youth across Michigan, inspiring and connecting them to the resources they need to thrive in their chosen paths. If you are interested in partnering with Youth Solutions, learning more about our services or donating so we can continue to hold events with impact like the Career Development Conference, please contact us.