Featured Speakers

Monday's Featured Speaker

Scaling Access to Experience through Virtual Job Simulations

Harrison Bass, Head of Educational Partnerships, and Laura Mills, Head of Early Career Insights

As today’s hiring employers continue to recruit college student candidates based on transferable skills and relevant experience alongside academic credentials, the ability of students to participate in experiential learning opportunities is more important than ever. For many students, the opportunity to experience the world of work directly within the classroom through company-created virtual job simulations can be a key link between the classroom and careers nudging students to pursue additional experiential learning opportunities. Increasingly, more and more faculty are leveraging resume-building virtual job simulations to showcase how their course directly connects with real-world scenarios. Faculty report that job simulations not only foster career exploration and skill development, but also self-confidence!                                   

Forage partners with leading companies to deliver open-access job simulations to all students. Through their simulations, students build career skills, visibility, and confidence.

picture of Harrison BassHarrison Bass is the Head of Educational Partnerships for Forage, the free online library of employer-provided job simulations. In his role, he strives to offer guidance and support for educators, as they look to integrate Forage into their curriculum. Harrison has close to ten years of experience working in the workforce development and experiential learning space. Prior to joining Forage, he worked in both academic partnerships and a student advising role at The Knowledge House and Year Up in New York."
Laura Mills has 20+ years of experience working with early career talent, supporting and guiding career ambitions for high school, college, and MBA candidates. She joined Forage from Cognizant where she led early career talent acquisition for the Americas and, prior to that, EY where she was a leader in University Relations. She is passionate about revolutionizing early career talent acquisition to democratize access to opportunity!headshot of Laura Mills

Tuesday's Featured Speaker

Tony DiBenedetto, Chairman and CEO of Appspace

Tony is described as “a serial entrepreneur, thought leader, technology disrupter and community-focused leader.” Listen as he shares insights from his professional journey from college student employee studying to earn a degree in management information systems to CEO. Tony’s commitment to work-integrated learning is obvious through his founding of Think Big for Kids, the premier teen initiative that helps underprivileged youth aged 12-18 discover their untapped potential through career exploration, mentorship, skills development and job readiness to reduce systemic poverty through preparation to excel in high-demand professions of the future workforce.


headshot of Tony DiBenedetto

Tony DiBenedetto is a technology executive, entrepreneur and philanthropist with more than 30 years of experience in business innovation and high-impact growth.

Tony enrolled as a Florida State University student in 1983, and earned a BS in Business Management Information Systems. During his college years, he worked at the FSU Career Center and the Disabled Students Computer Lab. He attributes a great deal of his personal growth and professional development to these experiences at Florida State.

In 1998, Tone founded Tribridge, a national technology services firm that specialized in business applications and cloud solutions. As Chairman and CEO, DiBenedetto turned his start-up company into one of the leading technology service providers in the US. Tony sold Tribridge in 2017, and currently serves as the Chairman and CEO of a global software company, Appspace. Additionally, he serves as an active board member for several companies, including A-LIGN, 3Cloud, and MyArea Network.

Tony continued his passions to help kids as the founder and chair of Think Big for Kids, a nonprofit organization that helps underprivileged youth discover their untapped potential. Think Big aims to help kids break out of the poverty cycle, while fueling the economy with talent to fill high-demand positions. Tony has grown the initiative by providing services in career exploration, mentorship, and job readiness to more than 4,000 teens.

Tony was inducted into the FSU College of Business Hall of Fame in 2014. The updated Computer Lab is named in his honor and the Career Center offers a yearly scholarship in his name for the Student Employee of the Year.

Tuesday's Apprenticeship Panel

Employer Panel: The Value of Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships included in high school and college work-integrated learning programs offer numerous benefits to students and employers.  These programs include a structured training plan focusing on mastering specific skills an employer needs to fill an occupation within their organization, making them the perfect option for businesses looking to grow their employment base and increase retention. 

Join our expert panel of employers to discuss apprenticeships and the benefits their organizations have seen from utilizing them. 

The discussion will be led by Doreen Lund, Apprenticeship Navigator with CareerSource Northeast Florida and includes featured panelists: