All posts by Jennifer Johnston

Certificate programs: Reasons why it can benefit you

students holding up their graduation caps outdoors at a school

Most of the time people will gain opportunities and experience through employment. But then there are other people who would take the chance to go back to school to challenge themselves or gain knowledge in learning a specific skill set. Certificate programs can help fill the gaps in your knowledge or experience that are keeping you from reaching your career goals. There are many benefits in earning a certificate at any point in your life, whether it is your first choice before earning a higher education degree, or a post-graduate decision, or a continuing education opportunity.

These are the times when you can benefit from a certificate program:

  • If you need a career boost – whether it is to transition to a new career or advance in your career. A certificate program can give you an opportunity to develop expertise within your current career or in a new field you hope to enter.
  • If you need to refresh on a specific knowledge. Reconfirming what you already practice or received a degree in and continuing education within a certification program can keep you up-to-date.

St. Petersburg College offers certificate programs of all sorts to support your career and/or educational growth. An amazing perk in taking courses towards a certificate is that you be able to apply credits towards an associate, bachelor’s or even master’s program within that academic area. An additional bonus: it can save you money and time too. SPC also offers short-term training to boost your career skills through our Workforce Institute. Working towards a certification demonstrates your commitment to professionalism and continued learning.

There are support resources at St. Petersburg College that will help you to earn a certificate:

PITCH – for African American men, ages 18-24, who live in St. Petersburg, FL can earn a certificate in arts, technology, social and human services, public safety, or business that will help you get a job.

St. Pete Works –Ultimate goal is to help more community workers train for and secure new and higher paying jobs.

Make sure to connect with a Career and Academic Advisor to get registered for the second 8-week summer term session or the fall semester.

Student success in career services

Front of Tarpon Springs Entrance Arch

My name is Kelicia Jones, and I am the Administrative Intern here at St. Petersburg College. I am currently working in the Workforce Hub with Career Services, while simultaneously obtaining my Associates Degree in Business Administration. I was a dual enrollment student at SPC during my senior year of high school and decided to continue my education here after graduating in 2013. Yes, this is eight years later. I believe that utilizing Career Services as a resource earlier within my schooling would have allowed me to find my major sooner. Nonetheless, I have learned my lesson and I am glad to be able to present student success in career services with these helpful tips!

St Petersburg College provides a center for Career Services to help guide students towards their career path. Some students, like myself, can be undecided on which career path they want or which professional sector they are interested in. This can cause students to waste so much time taking unnecessary courses and signing up for programs they truly may not need.

For this reason, it is important to utilize Career Services and the tools they provide, making it easier to find and prepare for your career.

Career Preparation

Career Services can help you save time and money by choosing the right path. They can also help you begin and build connections in your interested field of study.

  • Career Coach: Helps you make decisions about your future career goals and education plans.
  • Informational Interviewing: Offers meetings with someone for insight on the experience or knowledge about a company/career.
  • Job Shadowing: allows observation of professionals as they work to see if you are interested or fit for the career/position.
  • Community Events: Held to assist in the networking process in relevance to your desired industry.

Employment Preparation

Now after you’ve completed all academic requirements you can start preparing for employment opportunities. Career Services provides workshops and platforms to assist students in getting ready for the real world.

  • Optimal Resume: a management tool used to create resumes, cover letters, portfolios, and even practicing interviewing
  • Mock Interviews: practice with professionals to help improve interviewing skills and ease nervousness
  • Hire SPC Titans: an employment site for job and internship postings

I wish I recognized the planning systems many years ago, and then maybe I could have realized that the route I was taking was not the best fit for me. I have been taught the importance of a cover letter, the appropriate way to format a resume, the value of researching a job, and the need for personal branding. I may have missed out on some of these things before, but during my internship experience here at SPC I‘ve gained a lot more knowledge. I would like to give special Thank you to Aundra Williams and Carissa Roldan for providing me with the opportunity to work with them this semester. Their passion and drive for student achievement provides a wonderful opportunity for student success in career services!

Are you ready for an internship?

Now that you’ve been given some insight into SPC’s great internship opportunities, please review our FAQ Section in order to fully grasp the complete internship process.

Hire SPC Titans is our customizable online tool for career and internship opportunities. There you can discover new employment opportunities that are right for you based on your major, interests, and skills. Take a moment to explore SPC’s Handshake portal today

Innovative in a workplace

Chalkboard reading: Think outside of the box

 Innovative in a Workplace 

When you think of innovation, what comes up? According to How to Jump-Start Your Innovation: 8 Ways to Be More Innovative article, it states that each of us can be more innovative. Contrary to popular opinion, it can be learned, encouraged and even incented. A recent University of California, San Diego study demonstrated monetary incentives helped overcome psychological barriers to innovation and led to a more diverse group of people to offer innovative ideas. To read more on this article click here.

 Being innovative can increase your creative thinking skills and allow you to resolve problems strategically. Although it is a leadership quality to create an innovative environment, there are still ways you can develop your innovative skills. Here are some advice from the Career Services Team on how to be innovative in your workplace based on their experience.

Be Curious

To be innovative, you need to expand your horizons. You do that by asking questions, trying new things, and learning from your mistakes. You want to familiarize yourself with certain skill sets and learn about as many as you can. This goes beyond your workplace too. As students, here are some good innovative questions to help you think about what you think: Are there any other similar answers you can think of with alternative routes? Why does that answer make sense to you? Why do you think this works? Does it always? Why? How does this relate to current events? To find more helpful innovation questions check out this article: 50 Questions To Help Students Think About What They Think.

Be Around Inspiring People and Environment

As a Career and Academic Advisor, I aim to surround myself with inspiring people or areas that allows me to explore my creative thinking. I am influenced to be innovative by listening to several conversations from colleagues on how they go about engaging with students. As for my environment, I make sure to amp myself up to ensure my creative outlook for the day. I do this by starting off my morning listening to my favorite songs or motivational podcasts. Doing this unlocks positive and creative thinking before entering my workplace. My suggestion is to find that specific motivator that will stimulate your innovative mind before work.

Do Not Stop Learning 

When you are learning you are growing. When you are learning you are developing your brain to think more innovatively. You can do this by attending webinars and trainings, or joining like-minded organizations. There are many free student memberships! Take advantage of free certificates and options available within the community (i.e. St. Pete’s Works, Workforce Institute, CareerSource, any many more). If you still need assistance in finding your passion or career to become innovative check out our Career Coach assessment tool.

Collaborate with a Diverse Group

Collaborating with a diverse group produces amazing results. As a Career Outreach Specialist within the Career Services team, transitioning to the virtual world was a team effort. It was easier to work as a group, developing many innovative techniques that still engaged and educated our students. We focused on our current situation and how we could improve it. We updated current workshops to make them more creative and interactive for the students. In addition, within a diverse group, you may find a colleague that you feel comfortable sharing ideas with or encouraging to try new things.

Innovation varies. It comes in different structures, sizes, and appearance. Being innovative should always be a part of your professional approach. In order to be innovative, you need to give yourself the opportunity to start building! Put your thoughts into words, your words into action, and your action into patterns and good habits.

Emotional intelligence in the workplace

Top 5 Reasons Why Emotional Intelligence is Important in the Workplace

According to the Oxford Dictionary, emotional intelligence (EI) is, “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.” Whether in your personal or work life, emotional intelligence is crucial to keeping a healthy relationship with others, and with yourself.

So what are some of the ways EI can benefit you in the workplace? Here are the top 5:

  • Help you stay calm in times of stress

We all know that emotional regulation is critical in maintaining a professional work presence. To control your own emotions can be crucial to getting a project or task done without having a mental breakdown. The best way to remain calm is to practice breathing and mindfulness exercises, exercise regularly, and get plenty of rest. For a list of mindfulness activities you can try, visit:   Mindfulness Exercises

  • Resolving conflicts

Typically, employers will have a mediator or policy that is meant to deescalate conflict. When that deems as ineffective, it is important to improve your social skills, specifically your communication skills to reduce the tension. Speaking with the person(s) directly, face-to-face, and understanding non-verbal communication.

  • Having a better take on constructive criticism

Workplaces all over the world thrive on effective feedback! What so many people call “feedback” or “areas of growth” we know is more or less constructive criticism. To be able to take constructive criticism effectively, listening intently, understanding how to correct the behavior or action, and paying attention to how you react vs. respond in the moment are nsteps to consider. A reaction may come from an emotion in the moment whereas a response will occur after the recognition of that emotion. All constructive criticism plays an important value in workplace, but you must keep in mind that it is not a reflection of you as a person.

  • Making Better Decisions

They say haste makes waste, and a lot of times when having to act, time can be of the essence in the workplace. Whether your decision has a time constraint or not, it is possible to act in a manner where you can make a decision that has meaning and purpose behind it. With that being said, it is just as important to admit when you made a mistake or speak on a disfavored decision.  Explaining the reasoning behind your actions will provide clarity in the workplace.

  • Keeping you motivated

In staying motivated, there are a few things to keep in mind. A positive attitude can go a long way. It may even rub off on your coworkers! Remembering what you love about your job and why you do it, whether it is number crunching or working directly with people will ignite a spark of excitement.  Finally, if you can, avoid work drama at all costs. If unavoidable, using empathic listening and validating someone’s feelings will help defuse a tense situation.

Emotional Intelligence is essential to a successful and rewarding career. According to Talent Smart, not only are “90% of top performers are also high in emotional intelligence,” “people with a high degree of emotional intelligence make more money—an average of $29,000 more per year than people with a low degree of emotional intelligence.” Since EI can be developed, the possibilities are endless in how you can grow professionally and interpersonally.

For Additional Resources, visit:

Very Well Mind

Talent Smart

Hire SPC Titans, powered by Handshake

Hire SPC Titans, Powered by Handshake

Career Services is excited to announce that Handshake is now Hire SPC Titans powered by Handshake. You heard it right. Same great platform with the same features. And still the #1 way college students find jobs, but with an SPC Titan stamp! 

What exactly is Hire SPC Titans powered by Handshake? 

Handshake is a way for students to connect with employers to find careers and internships. Created by former students who saw the need to level the playing field, their mission is to provide equal employment opportunities for all students. 

Not only are students who have complete profiles five times more likely to be messaged by a recruiter, but activating your profile is completely free. It is used by colleges and universities all over the county.

Create your account and complete your profile!

There are a few simple steps you can take to get started. To create an account, visit stpe.co/hirespctitans. Next, update your resume and upload it so employers can view it at any point. If you are in need of assistance in updating your resume, upload your resume to Optimal Resume for an SPC Career Services professional to review or Contact Career Services on your home campus to set up an appointment. 

To complete your profile, you want to make sure you review and edit the pre-loaded information from your resume and insert it into the appropriate sections. Uploading a profile picture is optional, and you may do so if you choose. Just remember, 80 percent of students who fill out the job type, location, and job role sections get messaged by a recruiter. Make sure you don’t miss them!

Once your profile is complete, you can explore various resources available to you such as: Jobs, Employers, Community, Career Paths, Events, and Career Center. This will be your one-stop-shop to start the job search and gather useful information from employers. Last, but certainly not least, the last step is to apply! Jobs and internships are available in your local area, around the state, and even nationwide. 

As you can see, Hire SPC Titans powered by Handshake is such a versatile tool that can be used in a plethora of ways. So what are you waiting for? Get started today! 

You’ve been laid off, now what?

A chart showing the unemployment rate.

Tips to help you get through being laid off at your company and knowing your benefits.

Before Coronavirus, approximately 1.7 million workers were being laid off per month. Experts say that number will double or triple in the coming months. The Wall Street Journal estimates “14.4 million jobs will be lost in the coming months, and the unemployment rate will rise to a record 13% in June, from a 50-year low of 3.5% in February.” The COVID-19 outbreak has left so many people feeling scared, worried, and unsure how they are going to pay their bills.

Like so many others, if you have been laid off, here are some next steps you can take to ensure that you are staying productive and goal-oriented in 2020.

Obtain a Layoff Letter

This will create a paper trail for you to use when you are job searching. Have your employer be specific in wording the circumstances surrounding your unemployment and include a recommendation for future employers.

Figure Out What Your Benefits Are

Health insurance, your final paycheck, or even severance pay may be negotiable in your layoff. You also want to check-in to review your retirement or investment plan. A balance of $5,000 or more should be kept with the company, although you can cash out for funding if it is crucial. Lastly, eligibility for reemployment is a benefit if employers are anticipating rehiring staff.

File for Unemployment

Applying as soon as possible is key, due to the high number of applicants. The typical time for financial assistance is 26 weeks. You’ll want to visit the federal government’s websites to find out if you qualify for unemployment and health insurance due to unemployment.

Update your LinkedIn Profile and Your Résumé

This is a good way to begin your job search, even if you plan to reapply to your former employer. Chances are, you will have more options for employment as time goes by. It may feel like you need to replace your old job immediately, but if you can afford to do so, it is best to find the right job, not the first job.

Virtual Networking

There are virtual networking events, job fairs, and social media outlets that are available. Eventbrite and Meetup are great resources for weekly business and professional events.

Handshake is another great resource for current and past students, as well as employers. Handshake is a website SPC students can connect with employers, upload a full profile, and see current job postings. To get started, create a Handshake account.

Additional Resources/ Useful Articles:            


SPC alumni talk shop about starting a business

People shopping in World Thrift Store.

Creating a business from the ground up isn’t a simple feat, but Alessandro Cocozza and Nicholas Fanning have managed to do just that. Owners of World Thrift and St. Petersburg College alumni, Cocozza and Fanning have both worked incredibly hard to provide a unique thrifting experience for their customers.

Founded in 2017, World Thrift was an idea originating from Cocozza’s own backroom in his home. Alessandro would buy clothes and post his merchandise on the social media app Snapchat, where a small network turned into a fan club, eventually becoming a business. Aside from thrifting, Cocozza designs and creates custom pieces for clients using thrifted materials.

From this point, World Thrift began hosting and putting on their own events. Fashion shows, markets, and photo shoots were just some examples of how they marketed their brand. As the years went by, they wanted to become more established in the area, as opposed to only having an online and pop-up presence. In September 2019, World Thrift opened its very own storefront on Seminole Boulevard in St. Petersburg. Since then, its customer base has become steadier and they are open five days a week, from Thursday to Monday.

To stay in touch with the latest thrift trends, Nick and Alessandro travel all over the country, visiting thrift shops and getting inspiration for themselves.

When asking Cocozza why he has such a passion for his business his answer was easy. Growing up, he never was able to have a unique sense of style because he wore clothes that were passed down from his older brother. Since starting World Thrift, his personal closet has grown, many of the items in it priceless to him.

But Cocozza and Fanning will tell you, the obstacles of owning a business can be taxing. To keep their business thriving, knowing that they have a specific demographic makes social media and their online presence more important than ever. Their typical shopper ranges from about 14-23, but they get some walk-ins that see their shop or clothes while passing by the main road.

Fanning and Cocozza love that they can provide their shoppers with a unique thrifting experience. Bringing the world of thrift to Tampa Bay, their name is quite fitting for the occasion.

To learn more about World Thrift, visit myworldthrift.com.

Job postings in the Tampa Bay area

A woman working on a laptop.

When it comes to current job postings, we encourage all students to follow guidance from the local, state, and federal government, including the Florida Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Stay safe and have a great semester, Titans!

While many businesses may be shutting down and cutting positions, many employers have begun to hire amid the increased need in grocery stores, delivery services, and other related fields.

Please see below for the full list of businesses and online links:

As always, the career services team is here to assist you with any career-related needs. From résumé help to job postings and even mock interviews, we are here! To find someone at your home campus, please visit the SPC Career Services webpage.

Employ Florida Jobs Available
(Online and Virtual Hiring)

You can register by going to EmployFlorida.com and clicking on “Not Registered? Learn How and Why” to begin the registration process. Once registered:

  • Click on Find a Job
  • Search for the featured jobs by their assigned job order #
  • Click “How to Apply” and follow the step-by-step instructions

The following Employers are looking to fill these positions:

Bayonet Plumbing, Cooling, and Heating

  • 11162680 – Warehouse Labor
  • 11162670 – HVAC Technician
  • 11162659 – Truck Driver
  • 11162686 – Plumbers, New Construction
  • 11162693 – Plumbing Supervisor with Underground Experience

FL Dept of Children and Families

  • 11006594 – Economic Self Sufficiency Specialist I

JMI Resource

  • 11149659 – Materials Sourcer
  • 11148561 – Bilingual Customer Service Representative

People Ready

  • 11113038 – Banquet Server
  • 11113022 – Housekeeper
  • 11113051 – Bussers
  • 11113053 – Dishwasher
  • 11113055 – Cook

Palm Garden of Pinellas

  • 11156495 – Certified Nursing Assistant (C.N.A.)
  • 11156484 – Dietary Aide
  • 11156517 – Housekeeping Assistant
  • 11156497 – Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

Pinellas County Schools

  • 11162649 – Appliance Refrigeration Technician – Journeyman
  • 11162636 – Bus Driver and Substitute

Lockheed Martin/Search Pros Solution

  • 11151990 – Assembler Level 2
  • 11151978 – Inspector

Boley/PEMHS/PAR

  • 11159045 – Residential Supervisor (Boley)
  • 11138383 – Behavioral Health Technician (Boley)
  • 11133732 – Access Center Counselor (PAR)
  • 11167547 – Case Manager (PAR)

Childcare Careers

  • 11006644 – Early Childhood Teacher/Teacher Assistant

Goodwill of the Suncoast

  • 11162610 – ECommerce Collectibles Manager
  • 11149665 – Assemblers
  • 11166908 – Accounts Clerk

Madico

  • 11162824 – Chemical Mixer
  • 11162825 – Window Film Marketing Manager
  • 11162829 – Electro/Mechanical Maintenance Technician
  • 11162835 – Coating Line Receiving Clerk

RMF Homecare

  • 11167592 – C.N.A./H.H.A.

Westminster Palms

  • 11081741 – C.N.A.

YMCA of the Suncoast

  • 11162275 – Assistant Youth Development Specialist
  • 11162283 – Youth Development Specialist
  • 11162289 – Assistant Youth Development Director

KHS&S

  • 11134681 – Framer Hanger
  • 11134693 – Laborer

Stepping Stones

  • 11158126 – Personal Support Caregivers

Frontline Communications

  • 11152675 – CNC Press Brake Operator
  • 11150114 – Painter

TSE Industries

  • 11167022 – Buyer Medical Device Facility
  • 11167029 – Clean Room Operator (1st shift)
  • 11167032 – Clean Room Production Supervisor Medical Device Facility (1st shift)
  • 11167024 – Industrial Maintenance Technicians (1st and 2nd shifts)
  • 11167014 – Manual Machinist (1st shift)
  • 11167019 – Outside Sales Manager (1st shift)
  • 11125346 – Chemical Operators (2nd shift, training on 1st shift, work every other weekend)
  • 11084642 – Social Media Coordinator
  • 11023208 – Industrial Maintenance Mechanics
  • 11015769 – Chemical Operators (2nd shift 7pm to 7:30am)
  • 11015759 – Plastic Press Operators (2nd shift 3pm to 3:30am)

Vanguard Protex Global

  • 11147303 – Electrical Technician
  • 11159702 – Purchasing Coordinator

Whatever Floats Your Boat: Entrepreneurs of Pinellas

Three people sit on jet skis in the middle of Tampa Bay.

From Student to Successful Business Owner

For many college students, the desire to be an entrepreneur and create your own business is becoming increasingly popular. From restaurants to shops to nonprofits, individuals can channel their education and experience into a meaningful passion, fulfilling their life goals.

Dante Clarke, 25, co-owner of Bada Bing Water Sports, is a St. Petersburg native and Titan alumni. Growing up to love the water, he worked for years at various hotels and companies renting out water sports equipment while obtaining his Captain’s license. Dante stated that he had three good managers that molded him, pushed him to work harder, and kept him accountable. Now an operations manager, Dante is able to understand how their sternness made him into the businessman he is today.

Getting Started

A small yacht sits in a harbor on a sunny day.
One of the yachts in the Bada Bing Water Sports fleet.

A venture like Dante’s requires capital, resources, time, and expertise. While he was working and attending St. Petersburg College, he put money away in order to start his own company.

What really made the difference in his endeavor was the networking relationship he made with a longtime role model, Doug Byrd, and his wife Sue. The Byrds have owned various businesses over the years, and Dante approached Doug with his ideas for a water sports business. Doug knew that Dante had a great idea and the experience in the industry, so when five slips and three boats by the same owner at the St. Petersburg marina went up for sale, Doug and Dante took a leap of faith and Bada Bing Water Sports became a reality.

Having What it Takes

For Dante, working anywhere from 60 to 100 hours a week is typical. But he loves what he does, so it doesn’t really feel like a job. He gets up at 7:30 am and typically works until sunset, which makes for long summers. Some of the challenges he faces include day-to-day operations, staffing, and creating his own schedule.

What gave him the push to take this risk? Along with his partner wanting to move forward, Dante met with an SPC advisor in 2016 who encouraged him to pursue his passions, and he has never looked back since.

To learn more about Bada Bing Water Sports, be sure to visit their website at www.badabingwatersports.com.

Why you should have a five-year plan

A journal reading "goal, plan, action" next to a clock.

How it helps with career development

When thinking about a five-year plan, the thought of what you are doing in 2025 can be terrifying! Maybe you’ve just started college and you have no idea what you are going to major in. Or perhaps you are about to graduate, and the stress of finding a job is eating away at you.

The reality is that goal-setting is proven to make you more successful. A Harvard business study found that “the 14% of people who have goals are ten times more successful than those without goals”.

A five-year plan has to be strategic and well thought out. Here are some ways you can help develop your plan:

  • Imagine your life five years from now and write everything down. Create an unfiltered list. You might be surprised by what comes to mind. This will help start the plan as well.
  • Ignore all the voices and reasons in your head telling you no. These will not only bog you down but are detrimental to your mental health and reaching your goals.
  • You can have more than one small goal, but your five-year plan should only have one main goal. For example, getting a Ph.D. degree.
  • Take action! There is no way to make your plan happen if you don’t implement it. This might mean having a monthly to-do list, or even a daily one. It might mean sacrificing social time, fun activities, or vacations. But later, it could mean more time to do those things, and more opportunities to enjoy life.

A five-year plan should include your career, but it should not leave out your personal life. If you want to buy a house, get a pet, have a baby, or travel, you should be realistic about those goals and how they fit into your career. You never want to take on too much at once, so be aware of where you are allocating time. There are only so many hours in the day, and you never want your physical health to suffer.

Taking all of these things into consideration, a rule to live by is using SMART goals. SMART goals stand for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Keeping all these components in mind will allow you to create the best five-year plan possible.

Last, but not least, remember, the plan can always change but the end goal should stay the same.