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Software 'Boot Camp' offers high-demand skills, better prepares students for workforce

Vanessa Logan had never thought much about intelligent business process management (IBPM) software. If fact, she had never heard of it.

But something at a recent USF Career Fair caught her eye: a sign reading ‘Appian Boot Camp.’

It was an offer to train students on IBPM software that is used across a range of industries and work situations to define and control business processes and workflow. Sometimes called relationship or case management, IBPM is flexible for customizing and can easily be scaled up as volume or an entire company grows. And having experience with this kind of software can make employees more valuable in the job marketplace.

So Logan signed up.


Vanessa Logan

Fast forward a few months and she not only was accepted to and completed the boot camp, she also landed a job with the USF Information Technology department.

Here’s the kicker – Logan’s degree is not in IT. She graduated with a degree in biomedical sciences and – because she is also an adept artist – she hopes to become a medical illustrator. She had only dabbled in programing and a little bit of coding, and some technical software, but that was it.

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Logan was one of about a dozen USF students who made the cut to be part of the inaugural Appian Boot Camp at USF. The aim of the boot camp was to help fill the job pipeline with a workforce skilled in IBPM, said Patrick Gall, assistant vice president of information technology for USF Health Information Systems.

“The challenge has been a finding a skilled workforce that knows IBPM,” Gall said. “So we decided to offer a boot camp that would not only train students who are gearing up to enter the workforce but also let us look for qualified employees for USF’s own needs. The camp matches local talent to local need, building the workforce and benefiting the University. There are so many industries and companies that need people with this skill and we need people with this skill. It’s a win-win.”

The boot camp was full time, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for two weeks. The first week was all lecture and training and the second saw students paired into teams and working on projects that were presented on the last day.

“They all did phenomenally well,” Gall said. “We will actually use several of the projects they pitched, that’s how good they are.”

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Although USF’s training is called Appian Boot Camp, Appian is one of several IBPM-type software available, so the skills gained in the boot camp translate across software.

“There are several areas on campus already using Appian so the beauty of hosting the boot camp on Appian is that we can train the way we would need potential employees to be trained,” Gall said.

There are two colleges at USF already using the software to better manage student advising and scheduling. The College of Public Health began using it to corral the multiple steps students take as they navigate their time at COPH, from admissions to graduation and including course work and grades. And the registrar’s office for the Morsani College of Medicine is using it to schedule the complex clinical rotation schedules for the fourth-year medical students, an effort that shaved off a week’s worth of time and increased the likelihood of a student getting a first choice for a rotation.

“IBPM is more about automating, digitizing, integrating and monitoring a lot of data from a variety of platforms, so you get metrics on everything,” Gall said.

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Students taking the boot camp are now more marketable with that skillset, Gall said.

“Training like this can empower graduates, as well as current employees looking to expand their knowledge and skills,” he said. “And participants are now more valuable in the job market.”

How hireable are employees with IBPM knowhow? Out of this first boot camp, Gall hired six people to help with the IBPM case management needs at USF.

And that’s where Vanessa Logan landed. Following her successful completion of the two-week boot camp, she started her job with the USF IT department in December.

While Logan isn’t the typical storyline – someone who was trained and then hired – she is a great example of what is possible with this approach to training and recruiting.

“At the career fair, I told them ‘Why not sign me up? You have nothing to lose. Just take a chance on me’,” she said. “I was shocked when they called me for the group interview.”

And even though her new job is unrelated to her diploma, Logan is eager to give it her best, saying “There’s always something to learn.”

Story by Sarah Worth, photos and video by Sandra C. Roa, video edits by Ryan Noone, USF Health Office of Communications


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