The University of South Florida is partnering with the Manasota Black Chamber of Commerce (MBCC) to present a mentoring program that matches students from the Sarasota-Manatee campus with local executives.
The program, called “Shadow an Executive Day,” or “Shadow Day,” debuted three years ago with the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and Manatee Chamber of Commerce to help students learn about professions to make informed career choices. Now, it’s being expanded to include the MBCC, which represents Black and other minority-owned businesses in Manatee and Sarasota counties. The program is set for Feb. 12. It will be held virtually because of COVID-19 protocols.
“I am excited about the upcoming USF Shadow Day partnership with the Manasota Black Chamber of Commerce," said Corey Posey, diversity, inclusion and equal opportunity officer for the Sarasota-Manatee campus. "It will provide our students with critical mentorship opportunities as they prepare for careers that ultimately impact our Sarasota-Manatee community.”
Previous Shadow Days involved students and mentors spending one-on-one time in the morning, followed by lunch at the chamber offices where the groups discuss their experiences. In addition to providing an unfiltered view into particular careers, the event offers students valuable networking opportunities.
This particular Shadow Day will include remarks by USF Sarasota-Manatee campus Regional Chancellor Karen A. Holbrook and special guest Jazmyne Barney, regulatory affairs manager at Procter & Gamble. Six students are expected for the Shadow Day experience.
Manasota Chamber President Tarnisha L. Cliatt said she was delighted when she heard about the opportunity to connect USF students with Black executives.
“It is extremely important to provide students an opportunity to truly glimpse through the lenses of different business owners and learn about different trades, day-to-day operations and people of different economic backgrounds,” Cliatt said. “I believe this program will show how more alike we are, but also highlight the differences that we know exist. The business members are grateful to be able to pay it forward and hopefully to leave a lasting impression on the students they are paired with during the day.”
The effort comes as USF is working to increase its contracts with vendors of diverse backgrounds, boost efforts to recruit Black students, faculty and staff, and enact further measures to advance diversity and adhere to the Principles of Community established by a task force last year and advanced by USF President Steven Currall.
Posey and Cliatt first met last summer to lay the groundwork for greater outreach between USF and chamber members, including possible vendor opportunities with the university.
The first Shadow Day program debuted in February 2018 with the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and involved nine local businesses and nonprofit organizations. The program was expanded shortly afterward to include the Manatee Chamber of Commerce.
“The Shadow Day program provides students from the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus the opportunity to gain experience and knowledge while developing skills in the authentic context of the workplace, and we are thrilled to welcome the Manasota Black Chamber of Commerce to the program,” said Jay Riley, director of business outreach and engagement at the campus. “This program is a valuable tool to assist students as they discern their careers and look toward the next chapter of their lives.”
The Manasota Black Chamber of Commerce is committed to providing educational resources, capital access and strategic services to its members. The opportunities provided by the MBCC and its partners are designed to transform any entrepreneur into a successful business owner.
For more about the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus, visit www.sarasotamanatee.usf.edu.