Meagan is looking forward to getting involved at #FloridaACE18

Meagan Jones – Assistant Director of Career Planning – Saint Leo University Meagan Jones

“I was very excited to attend the FloridaACE conference as a first time attendee. I had the opportunity to meet and connect with numerous employers, vendors and professionals in the field. FloridaACE members welcomed first time attendees with open arms which allowed for an exchange of wonderful pleasantries, and as a result long lasting personal and professional friendships were established! In the future, I am looking forward to attending FloridaACE next year as well as getting involved in several committees!”

Christine Richard has this to say about her first time at #FloridaACE17

Christine Richard – MST Internship Coordinator – Indian River State College

Christine Richard

As a first time attendee at #FloridaACE17, I appreciated the opportunity to network at such a beautiful and relaxing resort!   The roundtables and workshops were a great way to hear about current trends and to network with peers.   The presenters were professional and provided valuable information and great ideas on their topics.  I especially appreciated the discussions on resumes and internships.   I came away refreshed and ready to implement new initiatives that will benefit our students!

Looking forward to #FloridaACE18!

1st Timer’s Take on #FloridaACE17


Devyn Montalvo, MSW  – Director of Career Services & Community Outreach – Webber International University 

“As a first time attendee of Florida ACE, I was very pleased with the event and cannot wait to return next year. I chose to commute instead of staying at the hotel, and I can confidently say it was worth the almost three hours of driving each day. I would do it again in a heartbeat!”

Good Times, Valuable Information, and Great Networking at FloridaACE Drive-In

By Robert (Bob) Nealon, Career Coach – Lynn University

Let’s start with some honesty.  Waking up at 3:15 a.m. was no fun at all, especially considering that my fiancée had a similar wake up time earlier in the week as she left for a business trip.  Two exceptionally early starts during the week can lead to a tired body and cranky spirit if you let it and, I wasn’t going to let it get the better of me.  I quickly reframed my attitude as I started my journey to meet my Lynn University (and FloridaACE) colleague, Stacy Lanigan.  I wasn’t sure what to expect when I left my house at 4:00 a.m. to head to my first FloridaACE event on the UCF campus last Friday.

Shortly after arriving to meet Stacy for our carpool effort, I got to meet her dog, Savannah.  I felt like I already knew her as I’ve seen her pictures and videos on social media.  She is even cuter in person; just ask Stacy.  I was excited to meet her because I’m a dog lover as we have a black Labrador mix named, Chloe, and also the name of our Wi-Fi home network honoring our crazy hound dog.  We can’t be the only ones who have done this, right?  The only downside to meeting Savannah was that she didn’t seem to warm up to me as I had hoped.  Although truthfully, I don’t blame her.  I’m sure I was incredibly scary looking as it was before 5:00 a.m. and I was without my first cup of coffee so she probably sensed my lack of energy and enthusiasm.

We arrived on the UCF campus and made our way to the Career Services & Experiential Learning Building.  What an incredible building!  We were greeted warmly by the UCF career staff including Dr. Bill Blank, along with FloridaACE President, Alicia Smyth.  This was only the start of the great morning to come.

The keynote address from Dr. Calvin Williams, Putting on the Ritz, was informative and impactful and provided the over 80 Drive-In event attendees with several valuable takeaways.  The only thing that could have made his presentation better would have included a smoke machine, special lighting, and pyrotechnics so he have had the entrance he wanted and deserved.  This might have been the only thing that the UCF Career Center didn’t have.

I also was fortunate enough to attend Tim Harding’s breakout session, A 21st Century Mindshift: Cultivating a Culture of Career Readiness and Competency Development.  It was enlightening and exciting to hear about the great work being done at the University of Tampa.  UT students leaving not just career ready (“Spartan Ready”), but ready to succeed in their careers.  There was much to consider and plenty to be excited about as career services evolves to better serve our students.

It was also an honor to help moderate one of the breakout sessions with my colleague including four local employer representatives answering questions about hiring practices at their respective companies.  I had fun and gained further insight into hiring practices that I can offer to the students I serve on my campus.

While I was new to the group, I was able to meet some new connections during the event too.  All of the members were very friendly and open to conversation.  I’ve been to numerous professional association meetings, conferences, and special events during my career.  However, this event was really well done.   I congratulate the FloridaACE steering committee on a fun, informative event.  Great job!

I am excited to be a FloridaACE member and am already looking forward to upcoming events including the 2017 Annual Conference at the Saddlebrook Resort and Spa in Tampa taking place June 14-16.  Hope to see you there!

The Networking Hurricane of FloridaACE

Tara Stevenson, Florida Association of Colleges and Employers 

captureThe past week shook me up a bit, to say the least.  I realized in a split second, the city and college I dedicate more time to than I really want to calculate, quickly came into focus a little more clearly.  Flagler College and Saint Augustine have been my home away from home for about seven and a half years now.  I love coming to work (and I am not afraid to say it!).  Of course, there are times I get frustrated and angry, just like everyone else, but I can honestly and wholeheartedly say, I love what I do.  I even wrote about it before!

I followed the media on the impending and approaching Hurricane and it made me think back to one of my first weekends as a graduate student at Florida International University. This New Jersey transplant had just moved from Colorado and spent a few of her first days in Florida watching Hurricane Katrina go through the state, feeling overwhelmed by what Louisiana was experiencing.  I quickly got a taste of hurricanes myself as I sat in the dark while Hurricane Wilma came through campus.  By candlelight, I worked on my responsibilities as a graduate assistant, simply to pass the time after watching other students play dominoes in the residence hall courtyard.  But by comparison, this was nothing to what others experienced, in other areas and as time went on.  Over the past 11 years, I was extremely fortunate to not experience another hurricane.  It all changed over the past week.

matthew_track_zoomAs we all watched Hurricane Matthew make its way to the Florida coastline last Monday, I contemplated our events scheduled for the week.  Our biggest Career Expo to date was planned for Wednesday, October 5th and as employers began contacting me in the beginning of the week, I made the executive decision to still host our event.  The storm was far enough away at that point (perhaps in the future we can talk more about decision making and whether or not this was the right one to make!).

It was Tuesday, October 4th when the true meaning of FloridaACE became an instant sensation and will now forever hold a place in my heart.  Three different colleagues from various institutions across the state reached out to me personally to see if we would be rescheduling our Expo as they contemplated cancelling their own.  I felt heartache for them as one by one I saw massive events, months of planning, staff dedication and overtime come to a startling halt as career offices began cancelling their events due to the storm.  FloridaACE provided a network to safely reach out to others and, even if briefly, discuss the pros and cons of event planning and hard decision making processes.

Hurricane Matthew slowly made its way closer to Saint Augustine and I watched as the state prepared each city filled with my fellow FloridaACE members.  On Thursday, October 6th, we began preparing locally for a storm, in my own opinion, I do not think many of us were prepared for.  These friends, not simply people I know from other colleges or Annual Conferences, started texting and messaging again to see how we were doing in our small, historic town.

Then a simple, yet powerful, video surfaced showcasing exactly what was happening to the heart of campus.  Again, my FloridaACE family reached out to me one by one through texts, social media outlets, emails, all of the above!  My heart warmed as people cared about our safety, our school, the place where we came together to celebrate 50 years as an association.

More photos from the area came through various media channels and still, more communication came from my FloridaACE network.  People checking in on people.  It was not even asking about how the school was…it was asking how I was doing, how my home was doing, how my family was doing.  I tried my hardest to continue reaching out to other FloridaACE members just as they did to me.  I wanted to check in on our member schools up and down the coast and see how they were doing, how were their homes, schools, families.

It’s tough times like these I realize FloridaACE is more than getting together a few times a year to chat about what we do everyday.  It’s about offering support to one another in our personal lives, checking in to see how we are doing in the aftermath, and even opening our office space as a shelter for others (don’t think that email went unnoticed and you better know who I am talking about!).  Flagler opened back up this week and we look forward to continuing to move forward.  I look forward to being a part of the planning of the upcoming Drive-In just 3 weeks away and beginning the preparations for #FloridaACE17 in Tampa.

From the bottom of my heart I hope our FloridaACE members, institutions, and employers are safe following the storm.  It affected us all as a state and from it, we can only become stronger.  I look forward to connecting with you all again at future events.  I can’t wait to chat more with people about various aspects of our jobs, the struggles we all face, the ups and downs we persevere through each day.  Why else are we a part of this great organization?!  If you experienced any similar story or would like to share your FloridaACE success, please reach out to me soon.  I hope to hear from you soon.