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Cultivating Local Talent

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On Thursday, February 27, the South Florida Technology Alliance (SFTA) hosted its monthly meeting. This particular meeting on “How a University Snagged a Presidential Debate” appropriately took place at Lynn University in Boca Raton, the location of the final 2012 presidential debate.

Featured speaker Chris Boniforti, Chief Information Officer at Lynn University, gave a fascinating talk on the steps, expectations and challenges involved in hosting the largest international event that Lynn University, Boca Raton and Palm Beach County had ever hosted. Events like the presidential debate don’t just happen. It took a lot of hard work by many talented individuals to create this successful and momentous occasion.

How do we as a community develop this type of talent? 

Internships. The SFTA pre-event workshop featured two local executives and two of Boca Raton’s up and coming professionals discussing the benefits and best practices of successful internship programs. The “Grow Fresh Talent with an Internship Program” discussion provided insight into developing a local talent pool through internships. It finished with a Q&A session with interns-turned-employees from 3C Interactive and Modernizing Medicine.

Modernizing Medicine’s own rock star Jimmy Zeisweiss participated in the discussion. Jimmy started as a Florida Atlantic University IT intern for Mod Med and transitioned into a full-time QA Engineer after graduating with his bachelor’s degree (he’s currently pursuing his master’s in Computer Science). The Q&A provided valuable insight into his internship experience:

Q. What was the greatest benefit you received from the IT internship at Modernizing Medicine?
A. Learning both technical and professional skills provided the greatest benefit. Everything I use on the job as a full time employee, I learned working at ModMed as an intern. These are skills that one can only gain from real world experience, and I’ll continue to enhance them throughout my career.

Q. Talk about the learning curve you went through as the internship progressed.
A. Walking in the door on day one I thought I was an expert in computer networking because I had plugged in a few modems. I quickly discovered I had a lot to learn. My primary project was to relocate the entire sales network and get it up and running over the course of one weekend. We finished by 7:45 am on Monday morning – we moved wiring, switches, firewalls, you name it. That was a steep learning curve, but the knowledge I gained could never be replicated – or learned in a classroom.

Q. What was the most challenging aspect of the internship program?
A. Not having enough time! There was so much I was exposed to for the first time and I wanted to learn it all. But there simply weren’t enough hours in the day. At least I had only one commute – it was very convenient for my class schedule that ModMed is located in the Research Park at Florida Atlantic University.

Q. You were employed as a result of the internship. If you weren’t hired by your employer, would you have participated in the internship anyway?
A. Absolutely. I used to want to be an actuary and took the first two actuarial exams. Through the internship I became passionate about the tech industry and it changed my career path. I wouldn’t have been exposed to the industry otherwise, and now I have the opportunity to help doctors around the country increase their efficiency and improve patient outcomes.

Pictured in photo (L to R): Lenny Chesal, Jimmy Zeisweiss, Doug Saenz, Nicole Marmion.