An Army wife and mother has relocated her workforce development firm to St. Petersburg, and is helping middle and high school students launch careers with the help of artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Sheffie Robinson, who moved her company to Florida from Vicksburg, MS, in December, is working remotely and looking for a south St. Petersburg location to open a data center.
Plans call for a 3,000- to 5,000-square-feet facility she initially plans to rent and later buy. She expects to open it with five employees by late 2022 or early 2023, and grow it to include 25 to 50 employees working in data analysis, data science, software engineering, and market analysis.
“Equity is always at the forefront of everything that we do,” says Robinson, the company’s Founder, CEO and CTO. “Our mission as a company is to balance racial and gender equity in career development.”
Unlike other career development companies, Shamrck offers both career exploration and internships, simplifying the job for schools trying to keep students engaged and curriculums relevant.
Her platform seeks to help those who may not choose to attend college immediately after high school, either skipping it or delaying it. It provides students with choices centered around four Es: enrollment, enlistment, employment, or entrepreneurship.
Through its Clover Scholarship Fund, the company also is offering a total of $10,000 in scholarships that can be used to jumpstart an individual’s career journey, whether that be to fund a business or buy senior apparel. Interested parties, who are asked to write a short essay and answer a series of questions, can apply through January 16 at the Shamrck website
’s Scholarship Fund page.
Robinson, who holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Thomas Edison University in Trenton, N.J., says the company pairs “sociological theory with psychometric data to enhance economic and workforce development.”
Career seekers can take a short interest assessment, offered for free on the Shamrck website, and are given 25 career path options. Those who enroll in a one- to three-month long micro-apprenticeship program can earn $10 an hour, totaling up to $200 a month.
“The business now has tangible items they needed and the student how has job experience,” she explains.
Robinson has elected to make the program free for students to make it accessible to those that otherwise may not be able to afford its services -- Title 1 schools (those with higher numbers of low-income students), non-profits in underrepresented neighborhoods and the like.
Employers can get on board for the $200 it cost to pay an intern. Depending on the amount of services received, they may pay for extras like advertising internships, workforce analytics, and apprentice program development.
She is looking for companies that have work projects that may not require a regular full-time employee and who are willing to work with young people that may be skilled in some areas but not have the experience of regular staffers.
The companies ideally need marketing help, including website design and event planning.
As “women of color and women,” she points out, “Representation matters.” She adds that she believes in “being the change I want to see.”
“We need to definitely show women that are interested in the tech field that it is possible,” she says.
Future plans call for expanding product offerings to college age, adult and elementary students, likely in 2023, she says.
Also planned is going public in five to seven years, showing others how to monetize data in a socially responsible way.
“We want to show the world how a company can run, be successful, be profitable and still be socially responsible,” she explains.
Robinson, who plans to complete her MBA from Georgia Southern University in May, started the business in 2015 as a software development firm building websites and software applications. She pivoted to workforce development after her teenage son Trevor was told the high school calculus course he wanted to prepare him for a college mechanical engineering major wasn’t available. When she intervened, she was able to work with school district officials to create a calculus class for Trevor and six other students in a similar predicament. Now at 17, he is interning with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers in mechanical engineering.
The company was named Shamrck, after the original product offering WPClover changed.
“When we pivoted to workforce development, we really liked the clover branding and wanted to change the name to Shamrock,” she quips, “but a leprechaun got upset when we changed the brand color from green to blue and stole our O. That's our story and we're sticking to it.”
Her and husband Terry became acquainted with the Tampa Bay area through vacations; he’s been trying to get transferred here for five years.
There’s a different sort of southern hospitality here, she explains.
“We love Tampa to pieces and I don’t want to leave. The atmosphere is just amazing,” she says, adding residents are “tremendously kind” and helpful. “I think it’s the sunshine that’s always abundantly available.”