Fifty companies gathered at the Innovation, Science, and Technology building in Lakeland this week for the annual spring career fair, looking to fill countless positions with the high-tech, high-skilled talent Florida Polytechnic University produces.
“We have many employers who started with us back in 2016, when we had only 13 companies here, and many return to campus yearly seeking more Florida Poly talent,” said Dr. Kathryn Miller, vice provost for student affairs. “Having alumni return to campus on a company’s recruiting team is a great compliment to the university and the student experience.”
One of the companies that has been present at the event since its inception is Accusoft, a software development company based in Tampa, Florida. Product Manager Mark Hansen said that Florida Poly students stand apart for their readiness and adaptability to industry needs.
“We’ve had really great success coming out here in previous years and meeting with the students,” Hansen said. “They bring a lot of technology and a lot of know-how that some universities don’t have, and they’ve been really great at coming in and getting integrated with our team quickly.”
Hundreds of students were ready to make a good impression with pressed suits, crisp résumés, and solid handshakes.
“I’m excited to get my foot in the door and see what’s out there,” said computer science junior Paul Llamas, from Miami, Florida. “I did basic casing before coming out and looked at all the companies who were going to be here to see who would be best to talk to.”
Llamas had a long discussion with representatives from Accusoft and connected with alum Kris Kindle ’17, who now works for the company as a business intelligence analyst.
Another alum at the event was Trevor Hillsgrove ’18. He attended Florida Poly’s career fair shortly before his graduation and made a key connection with Qgiv, a provider of online services for nonprofit organizations. The encounter led to the software engineer position Hillsgrove holds today. Qgiv, based in Lakeland, was also a returning employer to the fair.
“We love Florida Poly. It’s our number one source of talent,” said Dan Bough, lead data engineer at Qgiv. “The students come out with a good understanding of the real-world engineering and project management part of the software programming process.”
Whiting-Turner, a nationwide contracting company with offices throughout Florida, was another employer at the event represented by Florida Poly alumna Shelby Sims ’18, a project engineer at the company. She said she was proud to be back and serve as an ambassador for both her school and her employer.
“This is an awesome job and I couldn’t have asked for anything better,” Sims said. “I want these students to try as many fields as possible and take as many opportunities as possible, because even though you think you might like health care, as soon as you look at construction you might fall in love with it.”
Florida Polytechnic University was created to provide a pipeline of high-tech talent to tackle Florida’s shortage of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) professionals. According to the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the state’s demand in STEM fields has gone up more than 63% since 2010, and currently Florida has more than 55,000 unfilled STEM jobs.
“We are connecting students with employers who are in dire need of STEM talent and our students have an opportunity to showcase what they’re capable of,” said Pairris Jones, Florida Poly’s associate director of career services.
As the only 100% STEM institution in the State University System, Florida Poly is fulfilling its mission through its high-demand graduates excelling in low-supply fields. The median starting salary for Florida Poly’s first class of graduates is $54,800, 50% higher than the average median wage across the system.
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