2018 Technology Career Summit: Tech Is Where It’s At in Tampa Bay

Daniel J. Scott Speaking at the Tech Summit

What’s the climate for tech in Tampa Bay? HOT, according to Daniel J. Scott, Co-Executive Director of Tampa Bay Tech, at St. Petersburg College’s 2018 Technology Career Summit.

“Right behind the research triangle in North Carolina sits Tampa Bay – the second fastest growing in the country,” Scott said during his speech, which set an inspirational tone for the night.

For many, March 14 was a night of potential. Local businesses came together to review resumes and build connections with all interested, offering students the opportunity to take the first step into their future careers. Luckily for technology students, Tampa Bay may be the perfect place to start.

Tampa Bay and the 2018 Technology Career Summit

“We’re home to 1 out of every 89 U.S. tech workers, and we employ more technology talent than half the states in the country,” Scott explained. “Tampa Bay is Florida’s most densely talented technology hub, with greater than 80 percent of the region’s tech talent working in Hillsborough and Pinellas County. That’s pretty convenient for most of you!”

Scott is intimately connected with this growing industry. Beyond being a part of the council representing Tampa Bay Tech, Scott is also chief operating officer at Alorum, on the board of directors for the Lions Eye Institute for Transplant & Research (the only combined eye bank and ocular research center in the world) as well as RNG Tampa Bay (the region’s largest, in-house corporate recruiters group). He is also a professor at St. Petersburg College and serves on multiple advisory boards, living up to the title of “one of Tampa Bay’s best-known leaders in the business startup community.” For him, events like the 2018 Technology Career Summit are not only a place to inspire but a place to uncover talent.

Daniel J. Scott Speakers to Students at the 2018 Technology Career Summit“A third of our force didn’t exist here five years ago, and we’re on track to add another third over the next five years,” he told the audience. “That’s you all. You’re net new talent as far as we’re concerned.”

As new talent, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. In a room full of potential employers, where do they start? And for many students, the skillsets that will allow them to land that first opportunity is in question. Who do they need to be?

Knowing Your Company

“You need to be Billy Joel, and you need to walk into employers and say these are the things that I did to be awesome while nobody was looking, but now is my time,” Scott said.

He also emphasized that it is just as important to know the quality of your company as it is to know yourself. When making decisions and exploring  opportunities, he told the group to keep an eye out for three things:

  • An employer with a solid reputation
  • An employer with solid benefits
  • An employer that cultivates a culture

“You’re looking for a pathway into the rest of your future career,” he explained. “The first company you work for is going to impact you in ways you just simply can’t imagine right now. Their reputation for the rest of your life will flavor your reputation. The people you meet there will be the basis of your professional life for the foreseeable future. Do your homework. Know a company’s reputation before you accept your position.”

Scott shared a list of employers that technology students might want to consider within Tampa Bay, many who had representatives at the 2018 Technology Career Summit.  These employers, he said, have a value system.

“Figure out if they have a culture of lots of meetings, or very few meetings; if they respect and honor your time away from the office, or if they anticipate no delineation between your private and professional lives – these are all discoverable relatively easily in just a few days.”

Students Network at the 2018 Technology Career Summit

And while your own character and the reputation of the company are important, Scott emphasized that the most important component in developing a tech career is people. Consider the company, but consider the people more. “Companies don’t develop you, people do; companies don’t promote you, people do; companies don’t find talent, people find talent.”

The Importance of People

Students Network with Potential Employers at the 2018 Technology Career Summit
Statistically, referrals account for between 30 and 50% of the hires in the United States. This reinforces the idea that networking at events, just as this, can be the most beneficial step in a student’s young career.

“There’s not a company in the world that can listen intently to your goals and desires and notice what motivates you personally, and then explain precisely how the company itself is going to meet your needs. Only a person can do that. So it makes sense that people are the most important part of this process.”

In bringing his presentation to a close, Scott summed up his speech at the 2018 Technology Career Summit in three questions. These questions serve as the basis for building a career in this industry but can be applied to any job search for any individual.

  • Who do you need to be? – You need to be Billy Joel.
  • What does the company need to be? – A place you can make an impact.
  • What do you have to do to get hired? – You have to meet the right people.

He left the audience with a ‘silver bullet,’ a shortcut to meet all the right employers – the New Skills At Work program at SPC.

“You can work in any industry that you want here in the greater Tampa Bay Area with your tech degree,” he said.

Train for a long-term Information Technology Career

SPC offers degrees and certificates in computer programming, cybersecurity, computer networking, web development, and technology management that will prepare you for the best technology jobs.

Students at SPC get the support they need through the college’s Career and Academic Communities. Within a community, SPC students have the chance to meet and network with others pursuing similar goals as well as faculty, staff and community members who are experts in their fields.

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