A pilot program on the USF St. Petersburg campus offered students the chance to meet with representatives from various businesses during Spring Break week, March 14-18.
The eXperience 2022: The Spring Break Job Shadow Program allowed students to meet in person and virtually with local employees to learn about jobs they might want to pursue after graduation. The students could explore exciting careers such as marine biology, medicine, criminal justice, law and education.
Sean Schrader, a senior Business Management major, spent three days at the Public Defender's Office of the Sixth Judicial Circuit, where he met public defenders specializing in felony, misdemeanor and mental health cases.
"These people are willing to take on these cases and help those who have found themselves in difficult situations and help them navigate the law. Making a difference in the community is very important," Schrader said.
"We want to partner with our local schools so students are aware of the incredible opportunities for them in areas of law that they may not know are there," said Courtney Olivier, assistant public defender and director of externships for the Sixth Circuit. "We have investigators with backgrounds in criminology; we have criminal justice students who become law students, legal assistants and paralegals. The students learned how their degree can be applied to so many things and used in many different ways."
Ten students participated in this year's pilot program that brought them to government offices, accounting companies and healthcare facilities.
Freshman Lizbeth Espinoza visited Bayfront Health for a half-day and spent the other two days talking to medical staff virtually.
"I wanted to widen my perspective on medical careers and speak to professionals one-on-one to get a feel for their career path and how they got there and why they wanted to pursue that path," said Espinoza, a Health Sciences major. "I think medical professionals have a great impact because they care for patients during their most vulnerable times."
"We have a variety of career paths. In all areas of our facility, our team members put patient care first. The healthcare field is only expanding. Over the next few years, students will find many exciting opportunities to pursue," said Bari Becker, community relations manager for Bayfront Health St. Petersburg.
Job shadowing and in-person internships were put on hold for many students due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as companies start to open their doors again, students are excited to take advantage of the opportunities.
"And that's important right now because there's such a booming job market," said Courtney Olivier, who also helps recruit new talent for the public defender's office. "It's good to know what kind of opportunities they have and what they're interested in pursuing. Then, hopefully, we can see some of these students work in our office."