IT & Innovation

IT & Innovation is a high growth sector that impacts every target and support industries in the Jacksonville region.  Major technology employers in the region include FIS, Black Knight Financial Services, Newfold Digital, and Forcura as well as many emerging companies that are leveraging technology to advance their respective industries.

Technology is imperative in all aspects of personal and professional life.  As a result, people who not only understand technology but know how to build, troubleshoot, and apply technology provide tremendous value. As a major business hub, Jacksonville plays a critical role in the global technology infrastructure, noted by its coastal Network Access Point, the JAX NAP/SBA Edge.

Technologies, Fintech/Financial Security Software, Healthcare IT, Smart Infrastructure, Autonomous Vehicles as well as Energy, and Solar and Water Technologies.

Opportunities exist for individuals in corporate IT operations, telecommunications infrastructure, and software development.  Job titles in this field include Technical Support Specialist, IT Systems Administrator, IT Support Engineer, IT Security Analyst, Information Technology Specialist, Desktop Support Analyst, Service Desk Manager, Technical Support Engineer, Support Technician, IT Manager, Help Desk Specialist, Network Administrator, IT Security Manager, Product Support Specialist, Integration Specialist, and IT Project Manager. Top jobs from an annual demand lens include customer service representative and software developer/quality analyst.

The Jacksonville region is a hub for the rapidly growing fintech industry. Due to this thriving environment for financial services coupled with the demands of technology-driven platforms and services in the modern-day field, Jacksonville is naturally seeing a shift towards fintech operations. In the last decade alone, JAX has experienced a 40% job growth in the fintech space which is 3 points above the national average.

The IT & Innovation Career Pathway showcases the educational options available, ranging from certificates to advanced degrees to create a dynamic technology-based career in Northeast Florida.

Resources

IT & Innovation
Industry Report

Industry Deep Dive

Fintech Industry Report

IT & Innovation Industry Overview

IT & Innovation Companies in the Region

I find myself at my best when I am challenged to learn new domains, whether they are business or technical.

Noah EmmonsSoftware Engineering Consultant, Entreprenuer

I never thought about going into the financial sector but that was the start of my IT career.

Lex WaltonProduction & Application Support Specialist, VyStar

You can impact every corner of life through data analytics.

Bianca DavisManager of Data Operations and Strategy, Crowley Maritime Corporation

My internship provided insightful learning and understanding of what it means to be a member of the workforce.

Carolyn O'NealAssociate Software Engineer, Forcura

There will be pressure to perform, but the satisfaction of fixing a problem is great.

Jansen HolmesCisco Network Engineer, Bank of America

Melissa Fulmore-Hardwick

Chief Information Officer, CSI/CSI Connect Internship Program

Growing up in South Florida, Melissa Fulmore-Hardwick was inspired by her family and other mentors about the importance of education and pursuing experiences that can positively change your life.

It led Fulmore-Hardwick, CSI Companies’ Chief Information Officer, to numerous achievements and moved her to encourage and motivate others, especially youth, to find value in their talents and explore their interests. Fulmore-Hardwick is passionate about providing others with opportunities for success.

Fulmore-Hardwick, along with CSI CEO Chris Flakus, tapped that passion to develop the CSI Connect internship program, an initiative that exposes students in underserved Jacksonville communities to technology careers and invests in future technology leaders. The program is building a pipeline of technology students, positioning them for lucrative jobs in the technology industry.

CSI Connect originated in response to a global corporate competition amongst 10 co-ops internationally, where they were challenged with the task of introducing a new way of doing business that closes the economic divide and celebrates diversity and inclusion. The program is offered in partnership with four Jacksonville colleges and the Duval County Public Schools.

“CSI Connect has evolved way beyond a contest,” Fulmore-Hardwick said. “The program empowers students to pursue careers in the tech industry, and it has given our interns the opportunity to be someone they never thought they could be.”

The program launched in May 2022 with six students from Edward Waters College, University of North Florida, and Florida State College of Jacksonville. Each intern was provided a laptop and paired with a mentor in the IT department based on their college discipline. They worked in the CSI Companies’ Jacksonville office alongside the employees and participated in various professional and leadership training related to networking, public speaking, building a brand, financial literacy, and wellness.

“This internship is helping me learn and implement the skills I’m learning in school and deploy it in the real world within the computing field. The Tech Talks, Wisdom Wednesday talks, and the open-door policy CSI offers extended exposure to network with other people from all types of backgrounds. My favorite thing at CSI is the people. It feels like we are one big happy family,” said Riyam Yatooma, UNF Student and current CSI Connect Intern.

“We want to make sure these students gain knowledge and have an experience that’s going to be game-changing in their lives,” Fulmore-Hardwick said.
In January 2022, the CSI Connect program expanded to include high school students. CSI Companies opened the CSI Tech Lab in Andrew Jackson High School’s renovated media center with IT professionals providing education and mentoring to five students, called the Jackson 5, interested in IT at the school.

“CSI Companies is making an investment in the schools and the community,” Fulmore-Hardwick said. “We want to get both college and high school students engaged, and communicate the importance of technology and the technology careers available to them.”

The inaugural class of CSI Connect college interns graduated in July 2022. Interns who do well during the program are encouraged to apply for employment at CSI Companies or one of its clients after graduation. Two students have begun full-time careers as a software engineer and a systems analyst at CSI Companies.

“My experience as a tech intern at CSI was eye-opening. It was the kind of hands-on experience I needed to catapult my career in tech. I gained a range of valuable skills both related to my tech background and nuggets of wisdom I’ve gained along the way with the help of my mentors. The more effort I put into this program, the more I reaped the benefits. Everyone is willing to teach as long as I was willing to learn. CSI Connect was truly an amazingly unique experience!” said Brianna Moreland, former college intern turned CSI Business Analyst.

“We have changed the economic position of several students and introduced others to the tech industry,” Fulmore-Hardwick said. “The CSI Connect program promotes diversity in technology and encourages these students to remain in Northeast Florida after they graduate.”

Lex Walton

Production & Application Support Specialist, VyStar

They said it paid $10, so I was interested,” says Lex Walton, Production and Application Support Specialist at VyStar Credit Union, of his opportunity as a student intern and student manager at Wolfson High School’s VyStar Academy. “I never thought about going into the financial sector, but that was the start of my IT career.”

Lex learned tremendous lessons while involved in the VyStar Academy in high school in 2012 and 2013. He assisted in teaching fiscal responsibility to other students. He assisted with branch efficiency and modified processing systems. Lex also learned computer repair, which included hardware and software, sparking an interest in Information Technology (IT). Lex learned about the multitude of career opportunities available at VyStar while a high school student. He reviewed active job postings and saw the education needed to obtain IT positions, as well as the average wages he could earn with specific IT skills.

Lex continued working for VyStar post-graduation as a Teller Specialist 1 and Teller Specialist II. These positions allowed him to craft listening and empathy skills, as well as master cash handling and balancing abilities. Lex knew early on that he wanted to pursue a career outside of direct customer service.

However, his transferrable experience as a teller consistently proves valuable as he grows his IT career. His career ladder has allowed him to interface with customers, the end-users of the apps he works so diligently to support. “I’ve worked with our customers and I know how they’re going to react if technology isn’t working. It gives me a sense of urgency to make sure everything’s right.”

While working as a Teller, Lex continued his education in IT. While at Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ), Lex was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. Lex received his Associate of Science degree in Computer/Information Technology Administration and Management and continued on at FSCJ for his Bachelors Degree in Computer Systems Networking and Telecommunications. Lex took advantage of scholarship opportunities via Career Source Northeast Florida to assist with tuition. VyStar also provides an outstanding tuition assistance program.

As Lex continued to complete educational milestones, he continued taking new steps in his professional career. Averaging a job change at least every 1-3 years, Lex continues to progress. He has been with VyStar for over 8 years now and only continues to progress.
In his current role in Production and Application Support, he troubleshoots application software issues and ensures successful resolution. Lex is an example of how motivation, strategic planning, and resiliency has tremendous impact. He has successfully leveraged opportunities available to him in high school and college. Lex has taken advantage of the high caliber of education and the high-growth IT occupations in Northeast Florida to craft an enviable career with limitless possibilities.

Carolyn O'Neal

Forcura Associate Software Engineer

Internships are becoming an increasingly essential tool for finding full-time employment. In addition to learning on-the-job skills, Carolyn O’Neal, MSHI, maximized the internship experience to establish herself as a valuable team player at Forcura, a leading healthcare technology company headquartered in Jacksonville.

“There’s a big learning curve in the transition from bachelor’s degree to master’s degree to professional employment,” O’Neal said. “My internship provided insightful learning and understanding of what it means to be a member of the workforce.”

O’Neal, an Associate Software Engineer at Forcura, earned a master’s degree in Health Informatics and a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science with a minor in Cyber Security from Jacksonville University. Attending as a student-athlete on a softball scholarship, the Tampa-area native used her studies at JU to feed her passion for computers and technology before advancing into full-time employment at Forcura.

“What we do at Forcura is extremely rewarding,” O’Neal said. “It helps providers and patients going through care with software that saves time and money.”

Forcura improves continuity of care via technology, analytics and a deep commitment to enabling better patient care. The Forcura suite of tools facilitates safer patient care transitions and more effective coordination among post-acute health care organizations, physicians, electronic health records (EHRs) and other supporting technology vendors.

O’Neal’s internship at Forcura was the perfect fit to complete her master’s degree in Health Informatics, a relatively new, interdisciplinary field in the healthcare industry that uses information technology to organize and analyze health records to improve healthcare outcomes. She learned about the opportunity from a friend, who is a Forcura employee, and discovered the internship aligned with her interests in healthcare and technology.

“We are empowering patient care with the best technology and information available,” O’Neal said. “It has a real and powerful impact on people’s lives.”

Colleagues recognized O’Neal’s professionalism, dedication and positive contributions during the internship, and the company extended an offer to become a full-time employee. At Forcura, attracting and retaining top talent through innovation and company culture is a high priority. The company has a successful internship program and has converted 70% of its interns to full-time employees since 2018.

O’Neal’s focus is data flow, ensuring that Forcura’s components connect and the information can get where it is needed to improve healthcare delivery and outcomes. Her interest in computers and technology emerged as a student in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program at Buchanan Middle School in Tampa. Engineering was her favorite class and it inspired her interest in pursuing a technology career. O’Neal is proud to be a young female leader in the STEM field and hopes to help equalize the gender gap. She aspires to return to the classroom as a mentor or teacher, empowering young children to recognize the opportunities in some of the fastest-growing and highest-paid jobs of the future.

“Don’t be intimidated by the technology,” O’Neal said. “Anyone who works hard and likes a challenge can enjoy a career in computer science or software engineering.”