By: Molly Chrisman, HRSM Communications Assistant
As Sarah Goodwin readies herself for a career in Nordstrom’s corporate office, she took a moment to thank a professor for preparing her for professional success. Goodwin is a senior retailing student from Derry, N.H., at the University of South Carolina’s (USC) College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management (HRSM). Last summer, she interned at Nordstrom’s corporate office in Seattle, along with four other HRSM students, as a part of their merchandising group. Sarah has been offered a full-time position upon her graduation in May, and she attributes much of her success to HRSM 301, the Marnie Pearce Professional Development Program taught by Mr. Collin Crick.
Goodwin contacted Crick after Nordstrom leadership sat down with her to say how impressed they were with how she conducted herself professionally, especially in interviews. She says, “The professional development seminar was incredibly beneficial in preparing me for my internship. That preparation helped me to feel competent and confident during the interview process and ultimately I was able to get my dream job in the Nordstrom corporate buying office.” Sarah’s story is one of many that have emerged from HRSM’s professional development seminar.
This fall marks the 10th Anniversary of HRSM 301. The course was designed specifically for USC’s College of HRSM. Professional development courses have become popular at universities in recent years, however HRSM 301 was one of the first of its kind. This fall, the College of HRSM celebrates 10 years of preparing students like Sarah for successful careers through hands-on learning and networking opportunities.
The idea for HRSM 301 came long before the first class met in 2005. Pat Moody, then dean of the college, created a committee of HRSM faculty to craft a professional development course for the college. After several years of research and collecting input from industry leaders, professional development advocate, Marnie Pearce, gave a donation that gave life to the course.
Since its creation, “HRSM 301 has become a catalyst for empowering our students to be ready for the workplace,” said Tina Weaver, HRSM Director of Alumni and External Relations and member of the committee that developed the course.
Throughout the semester, students participate in various workshops and networking events. To begin, students take part in the True Colors personality assessment, which helps prepare them for workplace environment, dynamics, and conflict. Following this, students participate in several workshops such as professional dress, resume building, behavioral interviewing, and business dining etiquette. This course is unique because of the hands-on aspect of its curriculum. Students not only get to learn about these topics, but the events throughout the course give them an opportunity to practice them.
One of the most anticipated nights of the semester is the HRSM Alumni Society Career Night put on for students in HRSM 301. Alumni, faculty, staff and industry partners gather with students for a night of networking. Students are given an opportunity to put the skills they’ve learned to the test, in hopes of making a connection that could help them start a career following graduation. Events like this, as well as the practical exam at the end of the course, really highlight what HRSM 301 is all about. The goal of this course is to master the professional skill set necessary to start a successful career in any industry.
Students who take this course walk away with confidence that they are prepared for a variety of professional settings and scenarios. Crick, coordinator of the professional development program, frequently receives emails from former students about their success in the professional world. He credits much of this to the “beyond the classroom experience” portion of the course, which is unique to HRSM 301. Since the first class in 2005, the college has experienced a 42% increase in enrollment. The course has grown with the college, and it continues to develop young professionals, like Goodwin, each and every semester.