Kirk Downey, managing partner at Abacode Cybersecurity (left), talks with Tom Bloomfield, president of the S3 IT Club @ USFSM.

Bulls Notebook: IT Career Fair a hit with employers, students

By: Rich Shopes

Posted: February 03, 2017

SARASOTA, Fla. (Feb. 03, 2017) – To say Tom Bloomfield was upbeat is an understatement.

The senior Information Technology student and president of the S3 IT Club @ USFSM could hardly contain his ear-to-ear grin this past Wednesday as the club and Career Services held their inaugural Technical Career Fair at the Selby Auditorium.

Eighteen employers attended the four-hour event as well as dozens of students from USF Sarasota-Manatee, New College of Florida, Manatee Technical College and State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota.

In short, it was an impressive gathering. “This is a win-win on so many levels,” Bloomfield said over the crowd noise.

Mostly he was pleased to see so many companies and students interacting. Career Services Coordinator Toni Ripo said employers were happy the fair was dedicated solely to Information Technology as the burgeoning field touches so many businesses.

Employers represented nearly every stripe – from retail (Bealls) to insurance (Zenith Insurance) to food preparation (Boars Head). Representatives from the City of Sarasota and Sarasota and Manatee counties attended as well. Also in attendance were three staffing agencies – KForce, Spherion and TAD PGS Inc. – and such companies as Dealers United, Star2Star Communications, Cyber Ninjas and MTech Repair.

Bulls Notebook: I.T. Career Fair a hit with employers, students

Downey talks with senior IT student Ben Barendse.

“I think we’re seeing a pretty good cross-section of employers and good turnout of guys like me,” said Ben Barendse, an information security student set to graduate in December.

Kirk Downey, managing partner at Abacode Cybersecurity, said he was pleased at the level of talent. He had taken “quite a few” resumes and anticipated making call backs.

“There are some we will definitely be calling,” he said. “This is a great campus.”

Abacode looked to fill a variety of positions, from I.T. security to “white paper” writers. In addition, the company plans to open a cybersecurity office on campus.

Social season to kick into high gear

Wednesday’s Technical Career Fair was just the start. Expect a busy social season, especially next month, as two distinct, very different happenings are set to occur: the sixth annual “HospitaBull Evening at the Ritz” and “Bulls, Bands and BBQ.”

Both are set to happen the first week of March. Beyond that, they couldn’t be more different.

First up is the HospitaBull Evening at the Ritz, a glamorous evening that promises sophisticated dining overlooking Sarasota Bay. Alumni and others are asked to wear cocktail attire. The Thursday, March 2, event is set for the Ritz-Carlton, 1111 Ritz-Carlton Drive, Sarasota.

Tickets and sponsorship opportunities start at $150 and proceeds benefit USFSM’s Hospitality Management program. Students and USFSM faculty will prepare the meals.

For more or for ticket information, visit

Next up is Bulls, Bands and BBQ. This afternoon event is set for Saturday, March 4, from 4 to 7 p.m., at the USFSM campus, 8350 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota.

A decidedly laid-back affair, expect barbecue favorites, live music, field games and arts & crafts. Admission is free and open to alumni, students, faculty, staff and the general public.

Visit for more information or to register.

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