Students and advisors gather at USFSM ahead of last week's Manatee County Career Connections Day.

Bulls Notebook: USFSM students visit Manatee Co. government

By: Rich Shopes

Posted: April 21, 2017

SARASOTA, Fla. (April 21, 2017) – More USF Sarasota-Manatee students are choosing to make career connections at Manatee County government.

The campus last week sent students to the county’s offices in downtown Bradenton for a tour and discussion with department administrators. The visit, called Manatee County Career Connections Day, is intended to give students a first-hand look at job and career options available at Manatee County.

Many of the students, including John Carpenter, opted to make the most of the day-long excursion. While he was there, Carpenter, who’s enrolled in USFSM’s master’s program for Criminal Justice Administration, interviewed for two positions within Neighborhood Services, which coordinates economic and community development and neighborhood planning.

“I think it went very well,” he said. “I could easily see myself working at Manatee County. I liked the rapport they had and the interaction with the employees.”

Seven students attended the visit, which started with a meeting at USFSM’s main campus and included a lunch at the county. In addition to touring the government offices, students engaged in “speed interviews” with administrators for job openings and internships.

The career visits started last spring when county officials from Sarasota and Manatee asked the campus about students who might be interested in public sector jobs. Officials said they expect numerous job openings as workers retire over the next few years.

“Career Services coordinated a wonderful program and I think it’s a huge asset at USFSM,” Carpenter said. “So many students … graduate college without any immediate job options, so it’s nice to have this here.”

TDA Global Sports offers internships to USFSM students

Bulls Notebook: USFSM students visit Manatee Co. government

TDA Global Sports interns Kea-Marie Olaso (left) and Reenada Khair.

Career Connections Day isn’t the only outreach effort for USF Sarasota-Manatee students.

Scores of intern programs organized through USFSM’s Career Services Office are showing students the kind of career options available to them after graduation.

USFSM provides 300 internships annually, from lab assistants to school teaching aides, in addition to hundreds of volunteer experiences and job leads to help students discern their career path.

Recently joining USFSM in providing internships is TDA Global Sports. The Sarasota-based company is the local go-to agency for event planning and execution, from marketing and ticket sales to security.

This past January, two USFSM students – Reenada Khair and Kea-Marie Olaso – landed internships at TDA Global. Instead of being overwhelmed, they quickly adapted to the fast-paced, energetic business.

“I very much enjoy it,” said Khair, a hospitality management major. “I want to pursue this as a career later on.”

Both students say the work is exciting and their internship experience has proved informative. Like Khair, Olaso could see herself working in event planning as well.

For the moment, the two are helping coordinate the Elizabeth Moore Sarasota Open tennis tournament, an annual competition that draws thousands of spectators and high-profile athletes, coaches and trainers globally.

In addition to learning how to execute an event, the students are learning event-planning basics, such as how to coordinate with sponsors, advertisers and local media – the marketing side.

As the event approaches, the team shifts to operations, working closely with the event owner, venue provider, city and county officials and teams of volunteers, which can run into the hundreds. Even getting a handle on parking requires careful planning.

“It’s been fun being behind the scenes and seeing how all the different parts work together,” said Olaso, a professional & technical communications major. “It’s also exciting meeting the athletes and coaches.”

Khair said: “I enjoy the organizational, event-planning aspect of the work, but I also enjoy the marketing side and working with sponsors. I feel they really go hand-in-hand.”

TDA co-owner Tony Driscoll said the two are fast learners and eager to contribute.

TDA, founded 10 years ago, brought on its first USFSM intern last year. Given that experience and the success of Khair and Olaso, he said it’s likely that TDA Global Sports will work with USFSM for years to come.

“They listen well and they’re receptive,” he said of Khair and Olaso. “They’ve got good people skills and they’ve done really well. They’re a good fit.”

Dr. Black wins system-wide award

Dr. Kathy Black USF Sarasota-Manatee USFSM

Dr. Kathy Black

Kudos to Dr. Kathy Black. The USFSM professor has won the Artist Scholar Award from Phi Kappa Phi’s USF chapter.

The honor society’s award recognizes one artist-scholar annually for career contributions within his or her chosen field. The USF chapter selects the winner from nominations across the USF System.

“It came as a complete surprise to me,” said Dr. Black, who will receive a plaque and be inducted into Phi Kappa Phi as a lifetime member during a ceremony Sunday at the USF campus in Tampa.

“It’s a kind of lifetime achievement, so I’m very honored,” Dr. Black said.

Dr. Fawn Ngo, president of the chapter’s executive council, said Dr. Black was selected for her extensive work involving geriatrics, including her efforts overseeing Age-Friendly Sarasota, a local non-profit that promotes active, engaged and healthy living for people of all ages.

In that role, Dr. Black advocates for age-friendly living standards and meets regularly with groups and government agencies about strategies to become an age-friendly organization or community. Recently, she was invited to the World Health Organization in Geneva to talk about her grassroots work.

“You had to have made a significant contribution in your field to be nominated for this award,” Dr. Ngo said. “It’s very prestigious.”

USFSM debuts new vlog – the Green Screen

USFSM students are revealing their career aspirations in a new video series that debuted at the campus this week.

The students – Dina Thelsuma, Kate Ritz, John Akar and Emily Barnes – talk about their dreams and aspirations and how USFSM is helping to fulfill them. Each segment features a different question relating to their experiences at USFSM.

The students also talk about where they want to be in their careers, from a marketing leadership position at Disney to an I.T. engineering career within the automotive industry.

The segments run about a minute each. The vlog will air new episodes once weekly during May.

To watch the Green Screen, visit,

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