ORANGEBURG, S.C. (courtesy claflin.edu) — The Carolina Cluster Career Pathways Initiative hosted its second virtual Carolina HBCU Professional Development Conference on August 24. The conference was held for the purpose of preparing participating students from historically black colleges/universities (HBCUs) for the Carolina Cluster’s third annual Career Talent Showcase scheduled for September 21, 2021, 1-4 p.m. The first HBCU Career Talent Showcase in 2019 was a live event at the Columbia (S.C.) Convention Center. However, both events were virtual in 2020 and they will be virtual again this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Professional Development Conference is designed to provide students an opportunity to develop their skills in one-on-one engagement, personal presentations and building a brand, and gain familiarity with Brazen – the technology used to access the conference in addition to connecting students and potential employers for chat room interviews,” said Dr. Cathy Franklin, executive director of the Carolina Cluster Career Pathways Initiative.
The Carolina Cluster Career Pathway Program is a collaborative initiative between Benedict College, Claflin University, and Voorhees College designed to elevate student achievement and success by producing prepared and career-ready HBCU graduates coveted by employers and graduate programs.
In 2016, the Carolina Cluster Career Pathway Program received a $6 million grant from the UNCF (United Negro College Fund) under the UNCF® Career Pathways Initiative (CPI), to support the effort to design and implement programs that improve employment outcomes for graduates. The grant is funded by the Lilly Endowment Inc. Claflin University ($3.3 million), Benedict College ($1.5 million), and Voorhees College ($1.2 million) received funding from the grant. A portion of the Claflin University grant ($1.8 million) is used to operate a jointly established State Coordinating Office to direct and monitor all Cluster activities.
The conference also included live presentations on leadership competencies, diversity and inclusion, the “elevator pitch,” and other topics. Representatives from BMW, GEICO, Brighthouse Financial, Savannah River, Stanley Black and Decker, Verizon, and Walmart will join Claflin faculty and members of the Cluster’s executive advisory committee to advise students on how to impress potential employers in meetings and job interviews.
According to Franklin, more than 800 students and 150 employers attended the inaugural talent showcase in 2019. Despite COVID-19, more than half the totals from the previous year participated last year.
“We hope our numbers will increase this year,” said Franklin who added that recruiters from graduate and professional schools will also participate in the talent showcase.
“The students need to recognize the value of their degrees regardless of their majors. We want students from Claflin and the other institutions to understand their degree is powerful and that companies have positions for them.”
For more information, please visit carolinacluster.com or contact Valeria Green at (803) 665-8861 or firstname.lastname@example.org.