Said Ishoof, JD ’00, is Senior Vice President of Engagement at FIU and highly involved in the Talent Development Network (TDN Miami) which held an informational panel and speed networking session at the office of the Miami-Dade Beacon Council in Brickell in February.
3L Feras Ahmed
The Talent Development Network focuses on increasing the availability of paid internship opportunities for students in South Florida and aligning internship programs with key learning outcomes. Established in the summer of 2015 at Florida International University, the Talent Development Network has already seen over 1,000 students and 217 unique companies register on its platform.
Close to 500 students have secured internships through TDN, according to Ishoof, Senior Vice President of Engagement at FIU.
Feras Ahmed, a third year law student at the University of Miami, attested to the importance of his internship experience on his professional development. Feras works as an intern with Kairos, a software startup specializing in facial recognition and emotional analysis.
“Because we’re a startup you wear many hats,” said the Miami Law 3L. “It was really helpful for me to be able to sit across all the different teams, learn all the different functions, learn how business is done in a startup.”
Ishoof spoke to the importance of internships in guiding students in their career paths: “The best way of determining what your skills are is really through experiential learning opportunities, which come in the form of internships,” he said. “We wanted to create an easy way to get students and employers connected, so we created TDN Miami.”
On the employer side, Kairos CEO Brian Brackeen praises Feras and the firm’s other interns as instrumental to Kairos’ success. The company had grown from processing about 46,000 faces per month in 2015 to nearly 4 million per month in 2016.
“That stressed the entire organization,” Brackeen said. “Without the work of the interns, we literally wouldn’t have been able to make it happen.”
Brackeen praises TDN and aligns with its vision of the wealth of young talent in Miami: “For us, we’re really interested in hiring local talent; we’re big believers in Miami,” he said.
The Talent Development Network is an initiative formed by the Miami-Dade Beacon Council, an economic development organization whose primary goal is nurturing the business environment in South Florida through efforts to recruit companies to operate in Miami-Dade County and growing those companies that are already here.
“Our goal is to really help to create high-paying jobs, attracting the right kinds of businesses to this area that will ensure a future of economic prosperity of all of our citizens,” said Sheldon Anderson, CEO of the Beacon Council.
Miami-Dade County has consistently ranked as the number-two county in the U.S. for startup activity, according to a representative from TDN. Anderson sees this as an opportunity and hopes these companies can grow here and call Miami home.
“We have a real objective to make small business sustainable,” he said. “We know how to scale up and know how to sustain companies to be here for a long, long time. That’s what we want, and that’s what we hope for.”
For more information about the Talent Development Network, students and employers are encouraged to visit TDNMiami.com.