ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It is never too early to start networking and exploring different career paths.
The Innovation Scholars Career Exploration Program is for incoming first-year students at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg campus.
This is the second class of incoming students participating in the job-shadowing program to explore different jobs and the fantastic opportunities St. Pete has to offer.
"It was very nice to have done it last semester," said Fabrizio Petrozzi, who completed the program in the Fall of 2019.
He was one of thirty students to enroll in the first class. This year, the program's success was apparent when 100 students applied, and only 70 got paired with a mentor.
"The connections that I was able to make with professionals it is something not many people get to do as the first year," Petrozzi said. "It definitely also helped me find out there are some things about my major that I didn't like, and I might change it."
Innovation Scholars students will meet with their mentors three times during the semester, shadowing their daily activities, attending business meetings and getting a glimpse of what it's like to join the workforce. Because of COVID-19 meetings will be held virtually.
According to USF, "mentors are recruited from companies in various sectors, including financial services, arts, engineering, law, information technology, accounting, education, nonprofits, healthcare, insurance and others. Businesses will predominantly be within walking or trolley distance from the USF St. Petersburg campus."
Mentors who want to participate can apply year-round.
ABC Action News reporter Michael Paluska sat down with Petrozzi's mentor, Chuck Egerter, founder and CEO of cybersecurity firm Guardian Eagle.
"Fabrizio is a very smart kid. He's very introspective," Egerter said. "Fabrizio might be a key guy we keep in St. Petersburg, and he helps some other company really grow and create jobs. So, what we are doing is we are actually putting our arms around each other as a community, and we are getting tighter. We are helping each other, and it is going to create a better future for all of us."