Amid all of this bleak news about the state of the labor pool, we decided we simply must share a bright light and an example of just how far someone in Southwest Florida’s workforce can progress—especially when the proverbial stars line up: affordable housing, educational opportunities, prospects for advancement.
For that tale, we reconnect with Tamika Seaton of Fort Myers, a Gulfshore Business 2013 40-under-40 honoree, who has leapt from entry-level newcomer to seasoned executive.
Seaton, who was born in South Central Los Angeles, moved to Southwest Florida with her young family in 2003. Married at the time, she and her husband had been looking to leave LA for a more suitable place to raise children. A friend in Naples had introduced them to the area; Seaton’s then-husband was an aviation mechanic and found work in Miami. Although it required a commute, the relocation worked for them.
Seaton was a young mother and a bank teller with an associate’s degree. The family had two wage earners and area real estate hadn’t reached its peak, so they settled comfortably in Naples.
She did well in her job, and soon was promoted to personal banker. “But I didn’t see anywhere to go from there, and I realized if I wanted a career and to support my family I needed to further my education,” she says.
She landed jobs of increasing responsibility with Collier County, then the City of Naples, all the while attending Hodges University for a bachelor’s degree in executive management and a master’s degree in human resources management. Hodges’ programs are designed for people already in the workforce who want to move up in their careers. With a few area businesses, such as Arthrex and Chico’s, Hodges also launched last fall pilot programs that bring potential employees who are lacking in foundational career skills up to speed.
In 2014, The Shelter for Abused Women & Children in Naples recruited Seaton to be a senior development officer and used another tactic area businesses have in their arsenal for workforce development— company-sponsored training—to send her to philanthropy school in Indiana.
But meanwhile she and her husband had divorced, she was in rental housing, and the payments were climbing every year. “I thought, well, I like Naples, but it’s getting too expensive,” she says.
So she bought a house in south Fort Myers, which was more affordable.
When the traffic to and from work in Naples became time-consuming enough to warrant a change, she found her current job as executive director of the Florida Lions Eye Clinic in Bonita Springs.
She is also the founder of the 6-year-old Naples Image Consultants, which helps career aspirational people enhance their first impressions, professional etiquette and overall image to succeed in the workforce.