With rising tuition costs, many students dream of earning a full tuition scholarship. For seven College of Engineering and Computing sophomores, this dream became a reality earlier this year when they were accepted into Boeing’s prestigious Accelerated Leadership Program (ALP).
The program was founded in 2021 and recruits students from all engineering disciplines. As one of six participating institutions, accepted University of South Carolina students benefit from paid tuition for their junior and senior years, mentorships with high-level executives, two paid summer sessions, part-time employment, and a full-time position with Boeing after completing their degree.
“In my 36-plus years of being on the faculty of an R1 university, these are the best internship and hiring packages I have ever seen," says Hossein Haj-Hariri, dean of the College of Engineering and Computing . "It only strengthens our relationship with Boeing by providing a cohort of graduates who will be immediately prepared for careers in aerospace. We are honored for our students to be selected by Boeing for this opportunity.”
The ALP was created to further develop the existing strong connection between Boeing and USC, which is located only 100 miles from Boeing’s facility in North Charleston, South Carolina. As the only location where the full 787 Dreamliner production occurs, South Carolina is an integral part of the Boeing community with nearly 6,500 employees based in the state.
“We are proud of our partnership with USC and are committed to supporting academic programs, research, innovation and community service within the state and the university” says Case McGee, head of global talent acquisition at Boeing.
Unlike the regular hiring process that only begins after a student has graduated, the ALP is unique because of how early candidates are recruited. It is beneficial for both sides as students explore their interests, while Boeing can develop participants into future leaders for the company.
“Our senior executive leaders here at Boeing came up with the idea to attract, develop and retain engineering talent,” McGee says. “Capturing them early in the process while they’re still in school means we’re able to help develop and grow them. We hope that at the end of the five years we will have a very tenured employee.”
The program gives students the opportunity to experience various roles across the company. Mentors encourage students to change departments or transfer to other Boeing locations as necessary to discover the area that best suits their individual interests.
“The students will have a wide range of sites and projects that they can contribute to,” McGee says. “Some students have supported our Boeing commercial airplanes team by mocking up installations for a new first-class interior. One student worked with our 787 Dreamliner engineers to optimize mechanical assembly.”
Mechanical engineering major Nic Whatley was originally drawn to the program because of her interest in aviation. For Whatley, being accepted into the program is significant because of the flexibility it provides her and her family.
“I've been around planes my whole life because my dad is a pilot,” Whatley says. “I'm looking forward to the opportunity to work for a company like Boeing because I don’t have to worry about a job after graduation. Everybody that I've talked to at Boeing says they love their job, and I really want to work for a place where I'm going to love my job too.”
“Going to the job fairs and getting to know these recruiters helped me tremendously in exploring Boeing. I can't stress enough how much the career center has helped with this process. Bringing Boeing here and getting me this internship would not have happened without them,” Osterholt says.
Andrea Williams, assistant director of the CEC career center, urges students to visit them as soon as possible after starting college. “It's important because we can help students build a resume and prepare for these types of opportunities. We want students to engage with employers,” Williams says.
Applications for the 2024 program open this September. Students interested in the Boeing ALP and similar programs are encouraged to look at job postings on Handshake, and attend CEC career fairs and networking events.