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College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management

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Partnering for student success

Posted on: February 12, 2018
By: Allen Wallace,, 803-777-5667

The University of South Carolina’s College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management (HRSM) is expanding its corporate engagement efforts to help students make a successful transition from classroom to career.

“We have a vision of a 200 percent placement rate for our students—each student graduating with two job offers to choose from,” says Haemoon Oh, Dean of HRSM. “Industry expertise, experiential learning and career development are hallmarks of our education programs, and corporate partnerships play a vital role in our ultimate goal of placing students in the career path they want.”

These partnerships are the focus for Erica Lake, who joined the college in August 2017 as director of HRSM’s Center for Corporate Engagement. The new position will amplify ongoing efforts across the college and provide additional services and opportunities for companies and students to make valuable connections before and after graduation day.

“By corporate engagement, we mean not only working closely with our industry stakeholders in preparing our students for a career; but also interacting with our students and faculty so we can enhance access to valuable career opportunities,” says Dean Oh. “Every internship, work experience or networking opportunity can make a difference in a student’s life. We’re making a strategic investment by establishing the Center for Corporate Engagement, and we are thrilled to have Erica as our director.”

A two-time graduate of Mississippi State University, Lake brings years of experience in building relationships between students and their future employers. Prior to joining HRSM she worked for more than eight years as associate director for employer relations for the University of South Carolina Career Center.

Lake has been spending time with students and finding out what experiences they’re looking for and how the college can best serve them. She is also providing them with advice on applying for jobs on Handshake, South Carolina’s job board for students and alumni, and sharing opportunities for them to connect with and learn from industry leaders.

"We’re expanding opportunities for industry representatives to come to campus to share their professional insights and tips on resumes and the job search process. We are preparing students for high-stakes interviews and career opportunities," says Lake. “We’re also bringing our campus to company offices through the college’s internship programs, shadow days and headquarter visits.”

In fall 2017 alone, HRSM hosted companies such as Target, Kohl’s, Carolina Panthers, Sports Illustrated, Daytona International Speedway, Marriott, Aramark and many more. Industry leaders are invited to campus for guest lectures, corporate days, career fairs and recruitment displays. The events help build early relationships between employers and highly qualified future employees, while also helping align classroom lessons with evolving industry trends.

“HRSM is incredibly fortunate to have faculty and staff with strong industry experience and connections. The whole college is involved in securing amazing speakers and one-of-a-kind professional work experiences for our students,” says Lake.

Last semester, more than 20 students spent their fall break with a behind-the-scenes tour of Under Armour’s headquarters in Baltimore. Lake worked with HRSM’s alumni relations director and Department of Sport and Entertainment Management to coordinate the trip, where students met with UofSC alumni who now work at the popular sport apparel company and learned about the company culture, upcoming product launches and job opportunities.

In addition to the corporate engagement center, the college provides dedicated internship directors, professional development seminars and alumni engagement events to prepare students for real-world success. HRSM requires two internships for each of its primary undergraduate majors, supporting students in more than 1,000 internships each year.

With the new center and Lake now on board, the college is working to get students started with their internships a year earlier so that they are getting exposure to work experience as early as their sophomore year. In addition, college faculty and staff are collaborating to raise the bar for minimum internship standards to ensure an academically, and in some cases financially, rewarding experience for every student.

“I’m excited to continue working to engage even more partners to help our students launch their careers,” says Lake.

Vist us for more information on how industry employers can collaborate with the College of HRSM.

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