Media are invited to the kickoff event for the 2023-24 job-shadowing program at USF St. Petersburg’s University Student Center on September 14 from 5-6 p.m.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (September 13, 2023) – For the fifth year, a job-shadowing program at USF St. Petersburg is offering first-year students a head start in exploring their interests and career path by giving them a sneak peek into the day-to-day activities of the professional world.
On September 14, around 70 students will meet with their mentors for the first time to kick off the 2023-24 Innovation Scholars Career Exploration Program. Professionals volunteering for the program include representatives from local businesses and organizations such as Baycare Health System, Tampa Bay Watch and Great Explorations Children’s Museum.
Opportunities for shadowing range from the arts to finance to marine science and more, covering a wide variety of industries.
“The Innovation Scholars program really helps students confirm either that their major and career interests is right for them, or that it’s not what they expected and allows them to pivot and find a new path,” said Rita Zwiefel, internship and career experience coordinator at USF St. Petersburg. “For many students, it’s the first time they take the initiative and think seriously and creatively about their ideal type of career.”
During the semester, Innovation Scholar students meet with mentors at least three times, shadowing their daily activities, attending business meetings and getting a glimpse of what it’s like to join the workforce. Students will also get to meet other professionals within the organization, sit in on important meetings and events and connect with company executives.
Overall, the experience provides students with greater understanding of the organization and a perspective on what it would be like to work in specific fields.
“I thought this was something unique that would allow me to gain real world experience in the law profession whilefurthering my academics. This will be my first sort of job experience and I’m excited to discover more about myself and what opportunities this may lead to,” said Olivia Borek, a first-year student majoring in English who hopes to attend law school.
Nearly 300 first-year USF St. Petersburg students and professional mentors representing more than 100 businesses and organizations in the city of St. Petersburg have participated in the program during its five-year history.
Professionals say they benefit as much as students from participation in the Innovation Scholars program. As mentors teach and train students, they assess potential for future internships and roles within their organizations. It also provides an opportunity to give back to the community and pass on life lessons to the next generation.
“I wish there was something like this when I was in college,” said Sarah Stephens, administrative manager at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital who will be returning to mentor for a second year. “It’s a tremendous resource for a student beginning their career search to talk with a professional about their interests, who can kind of play matchmaker and show them different jobs within the field that align with those interests.”
About the University of South Florida
The University of South Florida, a high-impact research university dedicated to student success and committed to community engagement, generates an annual economic impact of more than $6 billion. With campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee, USF serves approximately 50,000 students who represent nearly 150 different countries. For four consecutive years, U.S. News & World Report has ranked USF as one of the nation’s top 50 public universities, including USF’s highest ranking ever in 2023 (No. 42). In 2023, USF became the first public university in Florida in nearly 40 years to be invited to join the Association of American Universities, a prestigious group of the leading universities in the United States and Canada. Through hundreds of millions of dollars in research activity each year and as one of top universities in the world for securing new patents, USF is a leader in solving global problems and improving lives. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference. Learn more at www.usf.edu.